An all-vegetable extravaganza sure to dazzle any holiday table!
I’ve been looking forward to resurrecting this dish for years. My adoptive mother is a loving and lovely woman, but unlike my fabulous birthmom from whom I inherited my culinary chromosome and with whom I share this blog, she was NOT much of a cook, or even much of a food lover. (Trust me, she will tell you that herself with zero compunction!). But once in a great while, to the total surprise of me ad my sister, she would bust out with something astonishing. Of course, as kids we were horrified at first. “A cake made of VEGETABLES? Eww! Jeez, Mom, you’re so weird.” She made it for several years, and we rolled our eyes every time – but it secretly grew on us, just a little.
As with many things, I look back on that now with much greater appreciation, and have always wanted to remake it with a few upgrades and tweaks.
Warning: This is not a quick recipe, nor an uncomplicated one. But if you enjoy going all-out for a special occasion and want to linger in the kitchen once in a while, turn on some tunes and get INTO it – with a satisfying payoff in the end – this absolutely is the holiday recipe for you.
FAITH’S CHARTREUSE OF VEGETABLES
3 cups mashed potatoes (Russet are ideal here)
1 pound green beans, one end removed
3 large carrots, cut into sticks (approximately the same size as the green beans)
2 yellow summer squash, sliced with a mandoline to 1/8 inch
2 large zucchini, sliced with a mandoline to 1/8 inch
1/2 cup green peas
about 1 pound Brussels sprouts, shredded with food processor
2 large shallots, minced
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted and chopped
zest of one lemon, plus a squeeze of juice
1/2 cup clarified butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Let’s start with the mashed potatoes. There are many many ways to mash, smash and whip potatoes, but my favorite of all time is this recipe by The Kitchn. My adaptations to that recipe for this chartreuse are adding a sprig of rosemary to the cream when you heat it, and a few slightly crushed whole cloves of garlic to the melting butter. Oh, and chives listed as optional are not, in fact, optional. Add them! Otherwise, carry on with the recipe as directed. This will make more potatoes total than you will need for the chartreuse – suffer through eating the excess. I’m sorry.
Also note: The potatoes can for sure be made the day before, they don’t need to be hot for the assembly of the chartreuse. If you make them on the same day, definitely let them cool quite a bit before you put the whole shebang together.
Now, on to readying the vegetables! All the initial prep (slicing, trimming etc) is included in the ingredient list, for expediency here. Bring a large pot of water (add a few teaspoons of salt) to a boil. Add the green beans and carrots and parboil for about 7 minutes; they should be starting to get tender but will still have firmness. Remove from pot with slotted spoon, leaving water boiling. Add summer squash and zucchini and parboil for 4 minutes, then drain completely.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the clarified butter in a large skillet. Add the shallots and saute for about 3 or 4 minutes. Add in the Brussels sprouts, pine nuts, and a dash of salt and pepper, and saute for another 3-4 minutes, taking care to NOT overcook them. Remove from heat, immediately transfer to a mixing bowl, and stir in zest and lemon juice (just a small squeeze, 1 or 2 teaspoons).
Time to assemble it all! You’ll need a springform pan, between 8 and 9 inches in width. Spread the sides and bottom with a generous coating of the remaining butter. Around the outside edge of the bottom of the pan, make a circular border of peas. On the bottom, make an outer circle of overlapping slices of squash and zucchini, in alternation. Spiral the circle into the center so the entire bottom is covered.
This would be a good time to preheat the oven to 350. Now stand alternating carrot sticks and green beans upright on top of the peas, against the sides of the pan. The trimmed end of the bean should be on the bottom, the untrimmed on top. They will all be uneven – do not worry! The butter will help hold them in place, but I also found that starting on the next step simultaneously was helpful: using a spatula, spread a layer of mashed potatoes carefully over the bottom of the pan. Doing this in conjunction with the carrot/bean perimeter works by using the potatoes to secure them in an upright position. Still wondering about the uneven lengths of the beans and carrots? Now you take a pair of kitchen shear and trim all the tops, so they’re even with the pan.
Once you’ve worked your way around and then smoothed out the bottom layer of potatoes, add half the Brussels sprout mixture. Now add another layer of the potatoes on top, then the second half of the sprouts. Any remaining butter can be melted and drizzled on top now. Finally, one last layer of potatoes. WHEW!
Bake for 20-25 minutes, Allow to cool in pan for about 10 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate, CAREFULLY remove the ring, and TA-DAH! All you need now is some fresh pepper to go over the top. Serve in wedges just as you would a cake!
If you made it this far, thanks for taking this quaint little culinary journey with me. I made some changes to my mom’s version, but plan to continue adapting and evolving it over the years. I hope you give it a try too. Happy holidays!
— posted by Anne