Sunday, January 30, 2011

My favorite winter salad

I tend to get stuck in ruts... I am a very monotonous person sometimes when it comes to things I do every day, or when it comes to cooking dinner.  It is something I am not proud of, being such a creature of habit but oh well.  For this reason however I have been making a certain salad very often.  I have appologized to those who have had to share it with me, but luckilly they like it too and have no complaints, so I keep making it.   It is so good I cannot go without making it at least a few times a week, at least as long as the vegetables I use in it are in season.  I have come to love sunchokes this year, especially thinly sliced and roasted.  Right out of the oven with sea salt they are like chips!  In this favorite salad of mine,  I combined them with carrots and rutabagas roasted in the same way, and they are delicious together.    I used my standard toasted pecans to top off the salad as well as some golden raisins, which I don't think are used enough, but I love!  Everything is dressed in a light maple balsamic vinaigrette, and it is so delicious I could eat it all myself!  I listed this recipe as serving three, but it is actually two Amy sized servings.  Even if you are skeptical about root vegetables and don't care for them, this salad could change your mind.  I served it to my Mom who is not a big fan of root vegetables, and she looked at it and gave me "the look", saying "You know I don't like rutabagas..."  But once she tasted it she actually loved it and there wasn't a rutabaga left on that plate!  I love it when I can change people's minds about liking veggies!  Here is the salad recipe if you would like to try it for yourself!

Roasted  Root Vegetable Salad with Toasted Pecans and Golden Raisins
Serves 3

2 large carrots, thinly sliced on the diagonal
3 large sunchokes, thinly sliced on the diagonal
3 small rutabagas, thinly sliced on the diagonal
olive oil
sea salt

1/2 cup pecans
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp maple sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp ground chipotle powder
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp riesling vinegar
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp dried thyme
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

5 cups mixed flavorful greens such as arugula, mizuna and dandilion
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
1/2 cup golden raisins
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Line three baking sheets with foil, and spray with nonstick spray. Toss root vegetables with just enough olive oil to coat, and spread out on sheet pans.  Roast until starting to brown at edges and tender, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with sea salt, and let cool to room temp. Decrease the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Toss pecans with honey, maple sugar and sea salt and spread out on one of the sheets. Roast in the oven until fragrant and starting to brown, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Meanwhile, whisk dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Combine greens, shallots, and roasted veggies, in a large bowl, pour dressing over, and toss with hands to coat. Divide salad between 3 plates and top with toasted nuts and golden raisins.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Roasted Yam and Edamame Salad

As a child I thought yams were gross, because the only ones I had been exposed to were the super sticky canned sweet ones at thanksgiving that were topped with jumbo marshmallows and baked.  I always dreaded my Mom telling me to take a little of everything and having to eat some of those!  Good thing I have since had the privlidge of roasting my own fresh yams, my mind has completely changed!  I could simply roast a large yam, cut it open, squeeze a lime over it and sprinkle it with sea salt to enjoy alone.  I love yams that much, and if you get a good one it is the perfect amount of sweet!  In the deli I work in we make yam fries, and there are always a few missing from the cooling tray since they are so good that someone always swipes a few.  Roasted yams are a healthy comfort food, and I love them in salads as well!  So I decided to combine them with edamame in a winter salad with an orange dressing last night for a light dinner.  You know, the type that leaves you feeling comforted but not all heavy.  It was beautiful with the green edamame and orange garnet yams, and even better it was delicious!  Here is the recipe if you wish to enjoy it...

Roasted Yam and Edamame Salad
Serves 4-6

2 large garnet yams, cut into small cubes
peanut oil

1 12 oz bag frozen organic shelled edamame, thawed
2 small shallots,thinly sliced
1/2 cup toasted pecans
1/2 cup dried cranberries

2 Tbsp orange juice
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp peanut oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 475 degrees, line a sheet pan with foil, and spray with non-stick spray.  Toss yams with olive oil and spread out on sheet pan.  Roast for about 20-25 minutes until starting to brown at the edges and are tender and cooked through.  Remove from oven and let cool.  When cooled, combine with edamame, shallots, pecans, and cranberries in a large bowl.  Whisk dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and pour over salad.  Toss well to coat, and serve! 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Italian Mushroom Walnut "Meatballs"

My Mom has always told me I make the best meat balls.  Which was funny because I don't eat meat, I simply make them for loved ones because I am nice.  My Mom loves them, so I make them once in a while, but on Friday I decided I would like some meatballs as well, so I decided to create a vegan version of them.  I had a bunch of leftover mushrooms that needed to be used up, so I thought what better a base than meaty tasting mushrooms for my "meatballs"!  I combined them with walnuts, nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor, and plenty of herbs, which is actually the base for one of my veggie burgers, but worked really well as a "meatball".  I was afraid that maybe they would be too mushy, but this was not the case at all, they held together well, had wonderful flavor, and once I ladled some of my usual pasta sauce over them they were pretty amazing if I do say so myself! 

I was too lazy to make pasta, so I opted for a piece of toasted garlic bread instead which ended up being a delicious accompaniment!  My Mom who is my biggest food critic loved the meatballs and told me to never make the ones containing real meat again because these were better!  Hmm...maybe I am rubbing off on her a bit?  Well they were pretty darn good in my opinion, and if you would like to try an awesome meat free "meatball"  here is the recipe!

Italian Mushroom Walnut "Meatballs"
Serves 3-4

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped red onion
3 cups chopped crimini mushrooms
1 1/2 cups toasted walnuts
2 cups dried whole wheat bread crumbs, or as needed
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp each dried basil, parsley, and oregano
freshly ground pepper to taste

olive oil
2 cloves garlic
red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp red wine
1 15 oz can crushed organic tomatoes
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried parsley
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp sea salt or to taste

4 large slices hearty peasant bread
olive oil
1 Tbsp minced garlic
sea salt
vegan parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 475.  To make meatballs, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add onion, and saute until softened, about 5 minutes, then add the mushrooms and saute until soft, about 3 minutes.  Add garlic and saute another minute until fragrant, then remove from heat.  Place mixture in a food processor along with walnuts, breadcrumbs, nutritional yeast, sea salt, herbs and pepper.  Process until smooth.  Add a little more breadcrumbs if too sticky, then shape into 16 little balls and place on a baking sheet lined with foil and sprayed with non-stick spray.  Bake for about 15-20 minutes until heated through, and starting to brown. 
Meanwhile to make sauce, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a medium saucepan.  Add garlic and pepper flakes, and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add wine, tomatoes, herbs, and sea salt, and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for about 20 minutes until the flavors have blended.  Keep warm. 
To prepare bread, brush with olive oil, and rub with garlic.  Sprinkle with sea salt and vegan parmesan and place on a foil lined baking sheet and bake in the oven until crispy and browned at the edges.  To serve, place a piece of bread on a plate, place a few meatballs on top of it and ladle the sauce over.  Enjoy!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Roasted Squash and Barley Risotto with Tofu

Being that it is disgustingly cold in Minnesota right now, I have been big time craving comfort food!  Barley risotto has been on the menu a lot lately and my favorite way to prepare it is with roasted squash!  It is sort of an Italian Asian fusion recipe, being that I make it with tofu for protein, and it contains miso, and tamari, but also the squash, barley and arugula.  But it doesn't matter to me if it has a nationality, it is delicious and warming, full of flavor and comforting!  The barley has a wonderful slightly chewy texture that rice will not give you, the miso a salty flavor, and squash a slightly sweet but still savory note.  If you are chilled to the bone, this is the remedy!  I made it 4 times in a row last week because I enjoyed it so much!  Try it out if you are in need of something seriously good! 

Roasted Squash and Barley Risotto with Tofu
Serves 3

10 oz firm tofu, cut into small squares
3 Tbsp tamari
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp peanut oil
2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium kabocha squash, cut in half and seeds removed

1/4 cup white miso
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp tamari
4 cups water
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup pearled barley
1/4 cup mirin
freshly ground pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
sea salt
2 cups arugula
Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with foil and spray with nonstick spray.  In a medium bowl, combine tofu, tamari, honey, peanut oil, and garlic, and toss to coat tofu well.  Spread out on one of the baking sheets and sprinkle with sea salt.  Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes, until crunchy at the edges, and browned.  Meanwhile, place squash cut side down on the other baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes until tender.  When roasted remove from oven and let cool slightly, then remove skin, and cut into large dice.  To make risotto, in a medium stock pot, combine miso, nutritional yeast, tamari, and water and heat on medium until miso dissolves, then lower to a simmer. In another large pot, heat olive oil and add shallot and saute until very soft, and starting to caramelize, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and barley and cook until barley is fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add wine to deglaze, then a little pepper to taste as well as about 1/2 cup miso broth, and thyme. Let barley absorb broth, then add another half cup, stirring often, until all the broth has been used up. When barley is cooked through, and all broth has been used, stir in tofu, roasted squash and arugula.  Add sea salt if desired (I didn't need any as it was salty enough without it) .

Monday, January 10, 2011

Golden Quinoa Salad

I do not like calling things "healthy", but I do enjoy eating healthy things if that makes sense.  For some reason the word healthy sounds like unappetizing bland food, but it doesn't have to be.  I was feeling like I needed something protein packed and energizing, and well I guess you could say nutritious, so I got to work creating a grain salad.  Since quinoa is a powerhouse, I thought it would be the perfect base for my salad.  I raided my fridge and came up with a color scheme, gold!  Mostly because I needed a bit of sunshine, even in my food being that it is winter.  I grabbed a golden beet, a carrot, some golden raisins, as well as some pecans, and walnuts for protein.  For my dressing I made a citrus vinaigrette laced with tumeric to give my salad a lovely color.  The finished salad was delicious but most importantly it was satisfying and beautiful!  The bright citrus along with the toasty nuts, sweet raisins and crunchy veggies was wonderful!  Here is the recipe if you would like to eat a bit of sunshine!

Golden Quinoa Salad
Serves 3

2 cups water

1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
1 medium golden beet, cut julienne
1 large carrot, cut julienne
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1/2 cup toasted pecans
1 cup golden raisins

2 Tbsp orange juice
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp sea salt or to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste

Place quinoa and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until all the water is absorbed about 15 minutes, or when all the grains have turned from white to transparent, and the spiral-like germ has separated. Drain, and let cool. When quinoa is cool, combine with the beets, carrots, walnuts, pecans, and raisins.  Whisk together dressing ingredients, and pour over salad.  Toss to combine, and for best flavor let sit a few hours or overnight in the fridge before serving. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

Roasted Winter Vegetables with Silky Sunflower Seed Sauce

I love the dish Gado Gado!  If you are not familiar with it, it is a Indonesian composed vegetable salad with a silky peanut dressing.  It often has hard boiled eggs in addition to the large pile of veggies.  I make it in the summer when I am craving cool food, but when I had a bunch of veggies I wanted to use up the other day, I thought I would make a winter version!  First off I created my dressing.  However, I decided to forego the peanut butter and use sunflower seed butter instead.  Since I think it has a tahini like flavor, I flavored it with lemon juice and cumin to put a middle eastern spin on it.  It was delicious!  And in fact would be great on any other salad, especially one with nice crisp romaine.  For my veggies in this "winter gado gado", I decided that they should be warm, and roasted.  So I roasted some brussels sprouts, carrots, rutabagas, and sunckokes for the veggies, and decided to poach my eggs instead of hard boiling them.  The composed plates of the dish were beautiful with all of the colorful veggies, but more importantly they were delicious!  The intensified roasted flavor of all the crispy edged veggies in the silky savory sauce along with the perfectly poached was comfort food!  Here is the recipe if you would like to expirience it for yourself!

Roasted Winter Vegetables with Silky Sunflower Seed Sauce and Poached Eggs
Serves 3

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp sunflower seed butter
1/4 cup water
juice of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp ground chipotle (or to taste)
3/4 tsp sea salt or to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste

3 large carrots, thinly sliced on the bias
10 brussels sprouts, quartered
3 small rutabegas, thinly sliced
6 medium sunchokes, thinly sliced
olive oil

2 tsp vinegar

1 tsp sea salt
6 cups water
3 large organic eggs

1/4 cup sunflower seeds, toasted

In a bowl, whisk dressing ingredients together until smooth and set aside.  Preheat oven to 475 degrees and line 2 large sheet pans with foil.  Toss vegetables with just enough olive oil to coat, and spread out on pans.  Roast until starting to brown and crispy at the edges, about 15 minutes.  To poach eggs, heat water to a simmer in a medium saucepan with the vinegar and salt. Crack an egg into a ramakin. Stir water with a spoon to swirl, and carefully pour egg into it. Let cook for 3-4 minutes or preferred doneness, and remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with other eggs.   When veggies are done roasting, sprinkle them with a little sea salt and freshly ground pepper, and divide them between the plates.  Drizzle the sauce over each, and place a poached egg on each plate.  Sprinkle with sunflower seeds and serve!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Whole Wheat Papardelle with Roasted Sunchokes, Carrots, and Pecorino Romano

My Dad gave me a pasta machine a couple Christmases ago, but up until now, I have only used it to make lasagna noodles.  I was at the Heartland Restaurant in St. Paul recently and they had this wonderful hand cut wild rice flour papardelle with golden turnips, chanterelles and parmesan cream.

The pasta had a nice hearty texture due to the nature of the flour used in it, nothing like I have expirienced with a pasta before!  It was so good that I was inspired to try my hand at making some pasta myself!  I used whole wheat flour in mine however, since I don't have a grinder that will grind the wild rice fine enough.   The whole wheat turned out to be just as hearty and still have that wonderful texture.  I decided to pair my hearty pasta with roasted carrots and sunchokes, since I had come across some beautiful locally grown ones.  I finished the pasta off with garlic, thyme and a little pecorino romano cheese. 

It was so simple and yet so good!  Comfort food fit for the coldest winter night.  And why not make your own pasta when you are cooped up inside due to the winter chill!  Here is the recipe if you would like some for yourself! 

Whole Wheat Papardelle with Roasted Sunchokes, Carrots, and Pecorino Romano
Serves 3
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp sea salt
1 egg
1-2 Tbsp water
1 tsp sea salt

4 medium carrots, sliced on the diagonal
6 medium sunchokes, sliced thinly on the diagonal
olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp toasted pine nuts
1 tsp dried thyme
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 oz pecrrino romano cheese, shaved

To make pasta, mix together flour and sea salt in a bowl.  Make a well in the center, and crack the egg into it.  Add 1 Tbsp water, and start slowly mixing in flour and incorporating it into the wet ingredients.  Mix until all flour is incorporated and a soft but not sticky smooth dough is formed (if you need to add more water if dough is too dry).  Divide dough into 2 pieces, and flatten each slightly.  Lightly flour each, then send through a pasta maker until the dough is a very long thin sheet.  (alternatively, roll each out until very thin with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface).  Cut each into 1 inch thick strips, and set aside on lightly floured parchment.  Place a large pot of salted water on the stove and bring to a boil.  Meanwhile, Preheat oven to 475 degrees, and line a baking sheet with foil.  Toss carrots and artichokes with just enough oil to coat and spread out on sheet.  Roast until starting to brown at the edges, about 15 minutes.  When your pasta water has come to a boil, cook pasta for about 2 minutes, or until it floats to the surface.  Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large pan, and add garlic, pine nuts, and thyme.  Cook for a minute until garlic is fragrant, then add cooked pasta, roasted veggies, and sea salt and pepper to taste.  Mix well until heated through, then transfer to plates and sprinkle with pecorino romano and serve!