Kitchen Letters #3: A Big Bowl of Winter Veggies & a Grapefruit Fizzy

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Dear world,

There are many reasons to look forward to certain days of the week, but Thursday’s are special around our house because we pick up our packed CSA box–and I mean packed–with an array of veggies and fruits to kick-start new ideas for recipes.  This winter we have been fortunate to receive some of my favorite veggies and fruits all in one box, and I thought I could share our abundance of yummies with you–in recipe form–in this fleeting winter season.

My favorite meals usually involve a bowl.  There is something incredibly comforting about food in a bowl to me.  Perhaps I channel back to the feeling of being a child and picking the biggest concave basin to eat my cereal from, with loads of milk and never the worry of a spill or splash.  In my opinion, bowls are where it’s at!  With this dish, I decided to work with layers, which I feel gives more depth to the flavors and textures touching your palette.  Like I previously mentioned, I was working with veggies directly from our CSA box, thus it did most of the menu planning for me.

I get in a bit of a rut with root veggies, and though I know there are a myriad of things to do with them, I typically end up preparing one or two variations because I’m in a time bind, but this week I wanted to mix it up a hint.  I decided to make a sauce with the beets to create a colorful backdrop to the remainder of the dish.  I allowed myself the joy of slowing down.

What’s wonderful about this recipe is that it’s an ‘everyday’ kind of meal.  It’s not as sexy as some of the gourmet delicacies you’ll find out there, but what it is, is realistic and relative to the time and availability of what you might have hanging out in your fridge or produce baskets this time of year (at least in the states).

You could eat the dish in layers or mix it all together, but this is not a dish for the faint of heart as it’s bursting with lively flavor and swimming in immaculate texture.

I suggest eating this meal with friends or a loved one, that way you can share in the bounty and casual nature of the dish.  Kick back with little prep and effort for table arrangement and enjoy it with your favorite record or even this Songza playlist –> An Ipanema of the Mind.  Yes, I’m hooked on Songza.

From a before dinner drink to the entrée, I hope you enjoy!

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Grapefruit Ginger Fizzy

Ingredients

  • 1 25.4 fl. oz Topo Chico or any mineral water
  • 1 inch grated ginger
  • 1 to 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • juice of 4 grapefruits
  • 3 or 4 drops liquid stevia (if you want it sweeter, I prefer mine more tart so I leave this out)

Instructions

  1. After juicing your grapefruits, pour the liquid through a sieve and catch the liquid in a wide-mouth container–this will catch any extra pulp or seeds that may have slipped through into the juice (or leave it behind if you like pulpy juice)
  2. Now, pour the juice into a large pitcher
  3. Add remaining ingredients and stir
  4. Now, add the mineral water
  5. Stir or shake if you have a lid
  6. Chill and sip in your favorite glass before and after your big bowl of veggies!

I have always enjoyed grapefruit, it is one of my favorite citrus fruits and I am always very happy when it comes in season because it adds a nice addition to my daily eats!  Fresh grapefruit or grapefruit juice would be ideal to start your days or begin your meals in the winter as it helps to detoxify your liver, alkalize your body and give your metabolism a boost.  Additionally, it is loaded with vitamins and minerals and will help with reducing and preventing fevers.

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Bountiful Winter Bowl

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa (rinsed & soaked)
  • 2 cups water
  • generous pinch of salt
  • small bundle of beets – about 4 (cleaned, peeled and boiled until tender; reserve beet greens for another time)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp annatto powder
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4-1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (optional)
  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic (more if you’re a garlic hound like me)
  • handful of parsley (flat leaf or curly; minced)
  • 2 glugs of extra virgin olive oil (2 tbsp)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 bundle of your favorite greens in season (I’m using curly kale; pull leaves off stem, massage and rip into small pieces, soak and rinse, then salad spin to remove excess water)
  • 1/2 yellow onion (thinly sliced into strips)
  • 2 or 3 glugs of grapeseed oil (2 or 3 tbsp)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (or to taste, in ‘pours’)
  • splash or 2 of red wine (whatever kind you have on hand, the higher quality the better the taste)
  • 2 hefty pinches of red pepper flakes
  • salt to taste
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes (cleaned and cut into 1/4 inch half-moons; cut off the dimples or where dirt has sunken in)
  • 5 or 6 small to medium carrots (cleaned and cut into half-moons)
  • 2 glugs of extra virgin olive oil (2 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Toppings (optional)

  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces (there will be some leftover)
  • 1 avocado (one half for each person you’re serving; thin slices)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF
  2. Place the cut sweet potatoes and carrots into a medium mixing bowl and cover with a couple of glugs of olive oil, salt and black pepper; mix well with clean hands
  3. Spread mixture over two baking sheets so the veggies are not touching; bake for 20 to 30 minutes, flipping half-way through
  4. Once veggies are in the oven, after rinsing and soaking, pour the quinoa into a medium saucepan and add water and a pinch of salt
  5. Cover and bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 15 or 20 minutes
  6. Fluff quinoa with fork
  7. While quinoa is cooking, in another saucepan, place beets in water to boil until they are tender to a fork (15-20 minutes)
  8. Place beets, paprika, onion powder, annatto powder, lemon juice, 2 or 3 garlic cloves, olive oil and salt into blender and blend until smooth
  9.  Cover quinoa with beet sauce and distribute throughout; add minced parsley and feel free to add unsweetened almond milk for a creamier sauce or add water or more olive oil if mixture becomes dry; re-heat on low and cover to keep warm until remainder of dish is prepared
  10. In deep skillet over medium heat, add 2 or 3 glugs of olive oil until it flows like water over the bottom of the pan
  11. Add onion strips and cook until browned but not fully caramelized (7 or 8 minutes)
  12. Begin to place handfuls of kale into skillet and stir with tongs until greens are bright but not soggy (1 or 2 minutes)
  13. Now, add your splashes of apple cider vinegar and red wine until you hear a crashing and cracking sound–it should be a loud roar; continue to mix greens making sure to not burn, and then sprinkle with salt and red pepper flakes and remove from heat
  14. In a dry skillet, over medium heat, place walnuts and toast until a light golden brown; take care not to burn
  15. NOW, to assemble the delicious bowl, in this order bottom to top:  wilted kale and caramelized onion mixture, quinoa with beet sauce, roasted veggies, toasted walnuts (by eye), avocado slices
  16. Enjoy every bite!

*This should serve approximately 2 to 4 people depending on portion sizes

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Quinoa, no longer the ‘It’ grain, is still ‘It’ at our abode.  It’s a full-source protein with a delightful nutty flavor and a fluffy light texture that absorbs flavor well.  The perfect grain to use for heavier sauces like this one, the semi-bitter undertones of quinoa are offset by the sweet and mildly tangy flavor of the beets and the umami of the garlic.  There are many exceptional qualities about this meal nutritionally, but take care in knowing you’ll be very satisfied and sated afterward.

Let me know what you think of the recipes and what type of creations you’re coming up with at the close of this season.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Yummy and grateful regards,

RAM

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