Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Farro with Caramelized Carrot and Feta

The husband cooked this one up in Kansas, loosely adapting a recipe from his produce box. I have now had it twice for dinner, and once as leftovers on the plane back to Sacramento after shamelessly employing my best mournful puppy dog eye routine to steal enough from (his) dinner for lunch the next day. (I couldn't help myself. It's addictive.)

It should be patently obvious that I deserve zero credit for this one, other than in my role as Selfless Taster of New Recipes.

It's a job I could get used to.

1 cup farro, cooked (follow package directions, but use chicken or veggie broth instead of water)*
Olive oil
2 medium shallots, diced
1 bunch carrots, peeled chopped into ¼ inch cubes (rainbow carrots are perfect for this dish, if you find them)
1-2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Juice of 1 Meyer lemon
5 oz feta cheese, cut into small cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

While the farro is cooking, prepare the other ingredients.

Sauté the shallot with a glug of olive oil in a wide, nonstick pan for about 2 minutes, until they soften slightly. Add the carrots and saute in the pan with the shallot, stirring only occasionally, until they brown. When the carrots are golden in places, sprinkle in the Aleppo pepper, and cook for a minute or two more.

When the carrots are browned, add the cooked farro to the pan and fold together. When the farro is warmed through, add the parsley, feta, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.

Serves 2.

 *Look for whole grain rather than semi-pearled or pearled—often, the only way to tell is that the whole grains have a longer cooking time (30-40 minutes instead of 15-20). The whole grains have more texture and more nutrition. The semi-pearled variety does cook more quickly, if you're in a rush. Our co-op only has semi-pearled, whereas Whole Foods carries the whole grain version (from Bob's Red Mill).

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Warm Quinoa Salad with Roasted Kabocha and Pomegranate

After the husband reintroduced me to kabocha squash by way of a brilliant farroto he invented last month (coming soon to a blog near you), I became obsessed. (I say reintroduced because in retrospect, I have eaten it—and always loved it—in Japanese tempura, but never knew what kind of squash it was.) Roasted, kabocha tastes of toasted pumpkin seeds and squashy wonderment. You might think the latter is more of a delirious rant than an actual taste. Roast some yourself and see.

This recipe calls for enough kabocha to make about 2 cups cooked, plus 3-5 extra wedges for snacking, because I am a realist, and realists believe in accurately predicting the amount of a given ingredient that will make it past one's mouth and into the pot. Also because it allows you to have the following conversation:

You: Would you like a slice of kabocha?
Other person: Kabocha?
Other person: Is it good?
Other person: What?
You (mouth full): Mmrmph.

1 kabocha squash (weighing about a pound; or sub butternut squash)
Olive oil
1/2 cup quinoa
3 inches of a medium leek, white and light green parts, halved lengthwise, rinsed well, sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
5 oz veggie and/or chicken broth
2 oz. baby spinach or arugula
Seeds of 1/2 pomegranate
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted in a pan until golden brown
Freshly ground white pepper

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Rinse the kabocha squash and pat dry. Cut the top out as you would when carving a pumpkin, then slice in half from top to bottom. Scoop out the seeds, then slice both halves into even wedges (roughly 3/4" wide at the thickest part).

Drizzle a cookie sheet with olive oil, and arrange the squash wedges on the sheet, turning them over as you go so that both sides are lightly coated with olive oil. (Note that if you overcrowd, they won't brown well, so try to leave a little space between them.) Roast for 15 minutes, flip, and roast 12-15 minutes more or until lightly browned and tender without being squishy. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, rinse the quinoa and let soak in cold water for 15 minutes.

Heat a pot over medium heat. When hot, add a glug of olive oil. Saute the leek with a pinch of salt until it softens, then add the garlic. Saute a minute more, add the quinoa, and stir a few times. Pour in the broth, cover the pot, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

While the quinoa is cooking, slice about 3/4 of the kabocha squash wedges out of their skin and cut into 1 inch pieces. (You also have time to seed the pomegranate and toast the pine nuts here if you want.) The rest of the squash is yours for the snacking.

When the quinoa is done, fold in the squash very gently (to avoid smushing it) and let heat through, then turn off the heat and cover the pot. Toss the baby greens with a little bit of olive oil and a spoonful of sherry vinegar so that the leaves are very lightly coated. Pour the quinoa-squash mixture over the greens, and let sit for 2 minutes to slightly wilt the leaves. Toss gently, sprinkle with salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste, and serve topped with pine nuts and pomegranate seeds.

Serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pasta with Braised Broccolini and Bacon

This is an easy and delicious dinner for one, or double it for 2-3 people (keep in mind that the time it takes something to brown in a pan will increase when you double a recipe because the ingredients crowd together more...using a wider pan will help with this).

Ingredients (per person)
1 strip Niman Ranch applewood smoked bacon, diced
1 bunch broccolini, cut into bite-sized pieces (or sub broccoli)
2-3 cloves garlic, slivered
1/4 cup chicken or veggie broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 oz. Stilton, crumbled

Bring a pot of water to boil for the pasta. Salt the water, then follow package directions to cook the pasta. Drain when al dente, reserving a ladleful of pasta water in case it's needed.

Meanwhile (this part takes about 10-15 minutes), heat a wide pan over medium heat. Saute the bacon for 2-3 minutes and then pour off the excess grease. Add a glug of olive oil and the broccolini, and saute for 1-2 minutes more. Stir in the garlic and a pinch of salt, cover the pan, and cook for 1-2 minutes. Stir, add the broth, and replace the cover, turning the heat down to medium-low. Let simmer for 5 minutes or until the broccolini is tender, stirring once or twice.

Toss everything together, adjusting salt and olive oil to taste, and adding a little pasta water if the mixture is too dry. Sprinkle liberally with black pepper, crumble just a bit of blue cheese over the top, and serve immediately.

Serves 1.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Celeriac and Potatoes with Sauteed Leeks and Thyme

Celeriac. [suh-LAIR-ee-ak] n. An under-appreciated root vegetable in the carrot and parsnip family. Coming to dinner soon at a table near you.

Seriously, make this. It's dreamy. It's also easy—you can prepare most of the ingredients as you're cooking, and just toss them in the pot as you go.

Adapted from Jamie Oliver's recipe here

Olive oil
1 celery root (celeriac), peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
2 small to medium yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
1 medium leek, white and light green parts, halved lengthwise, washed carefully, and sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a nonstick, medium-large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. When hot, add a generous glug of olive oil. Toss in the celeriac, then add the potatoes, leek, garlic, and thyme as you prepare them, stirring occasionally and adding another drizzle of olive oil whenever it starts to dry out. You want the celeriac and potatoes to start to brown in places, which will take at least 10 minutes and not too much stirring.

When the mixture is golden in places, cover the pot and continue cooking for 3 minutes. Stir, add a slosh (about 2 tbsp) chicken broth, replace the cover, and simmer for 5-10 minutes more or until liquid is evaporated. Stir, add another slosh of broth, and simmer for 5-10 minutes again. Continue cooking until the celeriac and potatoes are very tender.

Turn off the heat. Sprinkle with a little olive oil and salt to taste, and stir while smashing the celeriac and potatoes a bit. (This improves the texture. Also, it's inordinately fun.)

Serve hot, topped with freshly ground black pepper.

Serves 2-3.