Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Just Beet It

Last night we hit a milestone.  I made the first meal my husband didn't like.  He wanted me to tell you that he had an 'almond butter and fig preserve' sandwich instead.  He doesn't want you to judge him and he doesn't want you to think he's a picky eater--he's just not that into parsnips (or other root vegetables).

The inspiration for this meal came from a potluck party where a friend made a green salad with beets.  I've never had a beet.  When I think of beets, I think of Doug Funnie and Dwight Schrute.  Someone told me they tasted like grass.  Needless to say, I was terrified.  Then someone else told me they would turn my pee pink; I thought this was very helpful information seeing as how I imagine my pee would be pink if I were bleeding internally.  So I had a chunk of beet.  It was not amazing and it did not suck.  But it was so pretty I decided to try my hand with beets.

[I have to interrupt this post because someone is playing Wilson Phillips and all I can think of is Bridesmaids....okay, I have very seriously air-drummed and mimed this song and am ready to continue posting.  I realize I did not have to tell you this, but I did anyway.  Get over it.]

If you've never handled a beet before, I recommend checking out this page.  They can get a little messy, but now my cutting board is pink for Valentine's Day.  I've also never cooked with turnips; Real Simple featured them this month, so I thought I'd throw them into the mix.  And then, there's the dreaded parsnip (which I happen to like).  Parsnips look like elderly carrots: skinnier, wrinkly, gone gray, with a slightly withered look.

With minimal seasoning, this dish lets the taste of each individual vegetable shine through.  If, however, you have picky eaters around, you could whip up some Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette and toss with the veggies for a sweet tangy finish.

Roasted Root Vegetable Medley
This was real easy to make...you just cut everything up and put it in the oven and fuggettabowdit. You can cut the vegetables into matchsticks, cubes, chunks, or all of the above--it's your work of art!

8-12 slender carrots, peeled and cut
3 medium turnips, cut
4-6 parsnips, peeled and cut
3-4 small beets, trimmed, peeled and cut
1 medium sweet potato, cut
2 T olive oil
3-4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Toss cut veggies with oil and season with salt & pepper.  Spread vegetables and rosemary in thin layer onto large baking sheet.  Roast for 40 min or until golden on the edges, stirring halfway through.  Toss with vinaigrette for extra pizazz. 

Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette
A refreshing take on honey mustard.

3 T Apple cider vinegar
2 tsp good quality maple syrup
3tsp Dijon mustard

Whisk all ingredients until combined.

And I would like to point out that I have kept my resolution of blogging twice a month--so far!  Let me know your favorite root veggie.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bake It til You Make It

That's right folks, it's 2012 & I'm back at the blog with the hopefully manageable New Year's resolution of posting twice per month.  I'll need your help via encouragement and comments to keep it going all year long!

The inspiration for today's post comes from the red Dutch oven I got for Christmas.  I always thought you needed a Dutch oven to make cool things like risotto.  Well it turns out that BHG just prefers to photograph stuff in Dutch ovens because they look cool.  So I used a recipe from their feature on Ellie Krieger for Butternut Squash Risotto to break in my new cookware.  Turns out, you don't specifically need a Dutch oven to make risotto--unless you want to bake it.

Risotto marries the creaminess you crave when the weather gets blah with the low fat content to which you resolved to ascribe in the new year.  Arborio rice, the main ingredient, is super starchy and as you continue to add liquid and stir, the dish thickens.  Unfortunately the stirring and the adding liquid are the drawbacks to making risotto.  Traditional recipes call for adding 1/2 cup of liquid at a time, usually taking 30 minutes or so.  If your powers of awareness are running on high, you could probably turn this into a mindfulness meditation of sorts (which is another thing I need to get back into the habit of this year).  For some of us, however, 30 minutes chained to the stove is not feasible--and that's why I'm giving you the option to bake it til you make it (I'm sure risotto aficionados consider baked risotto to be faked risotto).
Depending on how much time you have for dinner, you can follow the stove top directions or the oven directions.  Also feel free to sub out the pumpkin puree for a 10oz package of frozen butternut squash puree. 

(Baked) Pumpkin Risotto
Italicized instructions are for the stove top prep method so read carefully!

5 cups vegetable broth (low-sodium is best)
1 T olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine (i.e. Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc)
1 1/3 cups canned pumpkin puree
2 T chopped fresh sage
1/2 cup shredded hard cheese (i.e. Parmesan, Asiago, Reggiano)
Salt & pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan heat broth until hot but not boiling.  Reduce heat to low; cover to keep warm.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  In a Dutch oven (or large oven-safe pot with tight-fitting lid) heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion.  Cook and stir for 6-8 minutes until softened but not browned.  Add rice; cook and stir for 1 minute.  Add wine and simmer about 2 minutes, stirring constantly until it is absorbed.

Add 1/2 cup of hot broth.  Simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it is absorbed.  Repeat with the remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, allowing each addition to absorb before adding more, about 30 minutes total.

Add all the broth and bring mixture to a boil.  Cover and bake for 35 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed, stirring halfway through.

Add cheese and mix well. Add pumpkin and sage.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

Both times I made this dish, I did not put any salt in it.  The flavor of the cheese and sage was enough!  Enjoy with some dark leafy greens and a glass of the white wine you used in the recipe.  Bon appetit!