October Cooking Tool of the Month – Cast Iron
I’m so excited to announce our October Cooking Tool of the Month! We will feature all kinds of cast iron cookware and the many things you can cook with them. I asked a few guests to share with us their favorite ways to use cast iron. When I asked what they use their cast iron for many people said “everything”. Skillet corn bread, chili, pizza, sautes, vegetable curry, banana bread, dutch baby pancakes, chocolate chip cookies, cakes, stews…you can pretty much do it all in cast iron.
Starting off the month is Heather Nicholds, who is not only my good friend, she makes wholesome food that is just the kind I like to eat. If you haven’t been to her website yet, head on over there! It’s packed full of resources, important information on healthy living, and wholesome recipes.
One of my favorite cooking methods in my cast iron skillet is slow cooked vegetables. It requires a deep pan with a lid, and it makes the veggies super flavorful. You start with just a drizzle of oil into the pan when it’s hot, add your vegetables and then stir in a sprinkle of sea salt. You need to get the cover on right away, because the only liquid is what’s drawn out of the vegetables by the salt as they cook.
As their juices meld together, their flavors merge and – if you pick the right combination of veggies – become a richly flavorful and deeply satisfying dish. My favorite vegetables to cook with this technique are sweet and soft root vegetables – like the sweet potato, beet and parsnips I teamed up here.
I laid my slow-cooked veggies onto a bed of fresh spinach and drizzled an orange-maple dressing on them, but they are just as delicious on their own, as a side or main dish.
Slow-Cooked Root Vegetables
Makes 5-6 servings
Prep time: 20 min
Cooking time: 40 min
1 tsp olive oil
2 cups brown mushrooms, sliced
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups sweet potato, peeled and chopped
2 cups beets, peeled and chopped
2 cups parsnip, peeled and chopped
1 Tbsp mixed dried herbs (basil, oregano, marjoram, chives, etc)
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 cups fresh spinach
1 Tbsp orange zest
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup tahini
1 Tbsp tamari
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/8-1/4 cup water (more or less, depending on how thick you want your dressing)
Peel and chop the sweet potato, beets and parsnips before you start cooking.
Heat a deep cast iron skillet to medium-high heat. Drizzle a teaspoon of oil in the pan at the same time as you add the mushrooms. Stir them a bit to mix the oil around them, then leave them to cook while you chop the onion and garlic. Once the mushrooms have shrunk down and are starting to brown, add the onion and garlic to the pan, and let them cook for a few minutes. Once the onions have softened, add the rest of the vegetables and stir to combine everything. Give the veggies a few minutes on the high heat, then sprinkle the dried herbs and sea salt into the pan, mix them through, and put the lid on as quickly as you can.
Turn the heat down to medium-low and leave this to cook for about 30 minutes. If you chopped them into smaller pieces, they take less time than if you chopped them in bigger chunks. Try not to take off the lid while they cook, since some of their moisture will evaporate.
While they’re cooking, you can make the dressing by mixing all the dressing ingredients together – either in a blender or by just whisking them together with a fork.
After 30 min, take the lid off your cast iron skillet (the handle will be hot, so use a towel or oven mitt) and test to see if the vegetables are soft and fully cooked. Be very gentle if you stir since the vegetables will be really soft. If they are, spread some spinach on plates, spoon some vegetables on top and drizzle with the dressing.
Now tell us what is your favorite thing to make in a cast iron skillet or dutch oven? What kind of recipes would you like to see this month? Let us know and maybe we will feature them!
Heather Nicholds is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist who helps clients energize their lives through simple changes in how they eat. Whether you’re seeking healthy weight loss, more energy or a boost towards balanced nutrition, Heather will introduce you to the positive and powerful impact of a plant-based whole food diet. Through her nutritionally-balanced meal plans, cleanses, online cooking classes, and nutrition consultations, she can get you on track. She shares her knowledge, enthusiasm and experience to help you prepare quick, healthy, delicious and balanced meals that leave you and your family full of vitality!