Monday, April 6, 2015

Rye Berry and Beet Salad

The color in this picture is a little other-worldly, largely because I was using my cell phone to grab a picture quickly. But also because cooked beets are pretty ethereal in a grain salad like this. 

This is one of those dishes that you can eat and literally feel stronger while having dinner. I like the texture of wheat berry - how it is firm and squeaky as you eat it. But, not everyone might feel the same way, preferring food with a little more give. Up to you.

The original recipe called for serving this salad with a horseradish and yogurt dip. I completely found the dip unnecessary and am not including it here. Link to the original recipe is below, if you would like to try it for yourself. (The original recipe also called for rye berry, which I did not have. In this case, the grain is really pretty interchangeable.)

Wheat Berry and Beet Salad
inspired by a recipe in Food and Wine

1 1/2 lbs beets, scrubbed, greens trimmed, beets chopped
5 T olive oil
1 c wheat berries
2 T apple cider vinegar
1 T horseradish

Preheat the oven to 300. On a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, toss the sliced beets with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Arrange the beets in a single layer and roast for about 1 hour, flipping the slices halfway through, until the beets are tender. Chop the beets and transfer to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the wheat berries and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 1 hour.

Drain the wheat berries and add them to the bowl with the beets. Add the vinegar, horseradish and the remaining 
3 tablespoons of olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat evenly. Keep warm.

In a small saucepan of boiling water, blanch the beet greens for 2 minutes. Drain and cool under cold water; pat dry. Chop the greens and toss with the beets and rye berries.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Quinoa, Egg, and Kale Scramble

I was recently served a version of this dish at a wonderful restaurant in Tampa, Florida. It had never occurred to me to serve quinoa with eggs, and make a breakfast scramble heartier. I have tried to recreate what they served, using a recipe I found online at Veggie Belly as a base. 

I play with the proportions of this breakfast, based on whatever I have in the house, and, whatever might need to be used up quickly. 

Kale can be replaced by any cook-able leafy green (spinach, chard, greens). And, I often double the greens and quinoa proportions, based on what I have on hand. Sometimes, this might mean I have to throw and extra egg or two into the already-cooking mess, in order to keep the proportions moderately right.

A particularly easy breakfast to assemble (you can do all of the prep the night before), this actually makes enough for multiple servings. You can easily put leftovers in the fridge and pull out portions throughout the rest of the week, microwave them, and have a fast breakfast before you head out the door.

Quinoa, Egg, and Kale Scramble

2 T butter or olive oil
4 c kale, shredded
8 eggs
2 T milk
1/2 tsp oregano, dried
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 c quinoa, cooked

Heat butter or oil in a skillet. Add kale and stir until it softens and turns bright green - up to 3 minutes.

In a bowl, whisk eggs with milk, oregano, and garlic powder. Pour mixture over the kale and stir.

The eggs will start to set quickly. Go ahead and add the quinoa so that it has a chance to warm through as the eggs finish cooking.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Classic Baked Acorn Squash

The first baked squash of the season! With one of the first truly cold nights down here in Texas, you feel compelled to make some fall and wintery dishes for dinner. First to my mind was baked squash!

I learned a tip tonight that was very helpful; scoring the squash really helped the flavorings (brown sugar, butter, and syrup) get distributed across the vegetable. This is not something I've done before, but a step I will certainly take from now on!

Classic Baked Acorn Squash

1 acorn squash
1 T butter
2 T brown sugar
2 tsp maple syrup
dash salt

Preheat oven to 400.

Cut the acorn squash in half. Scrape out the seeds and stringy pulp. leaving only the firm flesh.

Using a small paring knife, score the squash flesh - deep enough so that the fillings can soak in. Set squash in a baking dish, and add water to the pan (I go about half way up the pan -- enough so that it won't boil dry, but not so much that I can't carry the pan across the kitchen).

To each squash, add butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, and dash salt. (I forgot and it turns out just fine, though many people may want to finish with salt before serving.)

Bake for about 75 minutes. The squash will be very very soft.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Spinach-Mushroom Mac and Cheese

I find it difficult to get a good picture of mac and cheese. Especially when you are in a hurry to eat because your mac and cheese just came out of the oven. Instead of my picture trying to convince you to try this dish, I must rely on my words.

This is a hearty, yet surprisingly diverse, mac and cheese casserole. There is enough going on with the ingredients and flavor that you do not feel like you have a chore of getting through a plate full of mac and cheese. Not that that is ever too much of a chore.

Spinach-Mushroom Mac and Cheese
The Heart of the Plate - Molly Katzen

1/2 lb orecchiette
1 T olive oil
1 c milk
1 T unsalted butter
1/2 lb mushrooms, in 1/2" dice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 tsp dijon-style mustard
2 T flour
1 c beer, room temperature (I didn't have any; used chicken stock instead)
1 lb spinach (original recipe calls for chopping - I threw it in whole - worked just fine)
1 1/2 c sharp white cheddar (6 oz)
3/4 c bread crumbs
1/2 c walnuts, minced (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly spray a 2-quart baking dish or 8" square pan with nonstick spray.

Put a pot of water on to boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and transfer to a bowl. Toss with a little olive oil and set aside.

Heat milk, in micro, until steaming and hot to the touch, but not boiling. Set hot milk near stove.

In a saucepan, add oil and butter. Add mushrooms and 1/2 tsp salt and cook 5 minutes. Whisk in garlic and mustard, then turn heat to low and sprinkle in flour, whisking constantly. Continue to whisk another 15 seconds or so.

Keep pan over low heat as you drizzle in hot milk, whisking constantly. When milk is incorporated, whisk in beer. Turn heat up to medium and stir constantly as you add chopped spinach and remaining 1/2 tsp salt. Cook 5 minutes, or until spinach wilts into sauce. Remove from heat and stir in cooked pasta and cheese.

Transfer mixture to baking pan. Top with bread crumbs and walnuts and book uncovered 15-20 minutes. Serve hot.