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Quinoa and Beet Wraps

30 Jun

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My food intake has been uncharacteristically indulgent the past couple of weeks. I kicked it off with my very favorite beef tartar at The Greenhouse Tavern with my dad, followed by a gorgeous sushi boat at Pacific East with my in-laws and sister-in-law that evening. The next day, we went over my in-laws house for some of my mother-in-law’s homemade gravy (this one made with San Marzano tomatoes and deliciously tender meatballs – yum). Saturday we went back to the in-laws for her homemade bean burritos and summer corn. Then, on Sunday, we bid my sister-in-law farewell with a decadent stop at Li Wah for some dim sum, where I really outdid myself in eating just one more bite of everything.

So. I’m not just bragging about all of the awesome things I ate. Okay, yeah, I’m sort of bragging, but I only brought it up because after all of that, I needed something healthy. But it couldn’t be a ho-hum dish, because after all that rockin’ flavor day after day, my palate might have shriveled up and died in protest if I ate something boring for the first time in days and days.

This fit the bill perfectly. Beautiful sweet beets, nutritious and savory sauteed beet greens, salty feta, tangy-sweet apple cider vinegar, slightly crunchy and nutty quinoa, and the heat of crushed red pepper flakes wrapped up in a soft tortilla … it’s really a winning combination. Not that my crappy picture-taking demonstrates it, but this dish is also beautiful. The bright red beets look like little jewels, staining the quinoa a slightly red hue, set off by the emerald green beet greens and bright white flashes of the feta and tortilla. It’s a feast for the eyes as well as as the mouth. It also makes for killer leftovers – both reheated and room temperature. I made one room temperature and one reheated tortilla for lunch today and liked both equally.

Quinoa and Beet Wraps

Slow cooker roasted beets:

2 medium beets with greens attached

4 tbs. olive oil

Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste

Kosher salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

Prepare beets by cutting off greens (reserve greens – see below), leaving about 1/4″-1/2″ of stem, and scrubbing clean. Place each beet on a square of tinfoil about 6″ x 6″, or large enough to encase the beet. Drizzle each beet with 1-2 tbs. of olive oil, and season generously with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Close each tinfoil packet and twist shut. Place beets in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.

When beets are easily pierced through with a knife, remove from slow cooker. Remove from tinfoil packets and let cool. When cool enough to handle, peel beets using a vegetable peeler or edge of a spoon. Cut off about 1/4″ of rooted end and top. Dice into 3/4″ squares and set aside.

Veggie wraps:

5 tortillas

Slow cooker beets (see above)

Beet greens (reserved from above)

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

3 tbs. olive oil

3 tbs. apple cider vinegar

1 small onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 cup feta, finely chopped

Kosher salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste

Add quinoa and water to a medium sauce pan over medium high heat. When the quinoa comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes until quinoa is cooked through. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes to taste (start with a small amount of each, especially crushed red pepper, because you will be adding seasoning in each layer). Saute onion until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 45 seconds.

Add beet greens. Season again with a small amount of salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Saute over medium heat, stirring frequently, until beet greens begin to wilt, about 3 minutes. Add reserved beets from above and saute about 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the apple cider vinegar, cooking until only about 1 tbs. remains. Finally, add quinoa and feta and saute another 1-2 minutes until all ingredients are heated through and vinegar is absorbed. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. Set aside, covered, to maintain warm temperature.

Heat tortillas in a large saute pan or in the microwave for 45 seconds. Spoon about 1/3 cup of seasoning into the center of tortilla and roll into burrito form.

Loaded Alfalfa Sprout Sandwich with Rhubarb Vinaigrette

4 Sep

While out running some errands out in Mentor, Zak and I saw a Marc’s and decided to do our grocery shopping there instead of the store closer to home.  I am very pleased we did, because they had a few things which “our” Marc’s is generally lacking – including alfalfa sprouts.  Zak wanted to make some sandwiches using them, so we did.  These were both intensely delicious and very healthy.  Whole wheat bread, alfalfa sprouts, tomatoes, onions, and peppers – what’s not to love?  A light smear of mayonnaise holds the whole thing together.  By grilling the sandwich on either a panini press or by using a grill pan and a weighed down cast iron skillet, you fuse all the flavors and create a sandwich of manageable size.

Loaded Alfalfa Sprout Panini with Rhubarb Vinaigrette

2 slices whole wheat bread

1-2 tbs. mayonnaise

1/3 cup alfalfa sprouts

1/2 medium tomato, sliced 1/4″ thick

1/4 cup leftover fajitas

2-3 tbs. rhubarb vinaigrette

Nonstick cooking spray

Spread each slice of bread with a little bit of mayonnaise.  On bread, stack tomato, then alfalfa sprouts, then dressing, then fajitas.  Top with the other slice of bread.

Cook on a panini press about two minutes per side.  Alternatively, heat a grill pan over medium-high heat and spray with nonstick.  Meanwhile, heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat.  Add sandwich to the grill pan.  Spray the bottom of the cast iron skillet with nonstick spray and place on top of the sandwich.  Add a large can of tomatoes (or something similar) and lightly press the skillet down. Cook about two minutes until bread is toasted.  Serve immediately.

Charred Pepper Sandwich

1 Aug

I’m not a huge fan of green bell peppers.  I mean, they’re okay, but I’d take pretty much any other kind of pepper over a green bell pepper any day.  With the exception of two recipes – stuffed green bell peppers in tomato sauce, and a broiled or fried pepper sandwich.  My dad frequently fries up green peppers and makes a sandwich out of them, and it’s always been one of my favorite sandwiches.  Recently, I’ve been adding another element in the form of sriracha – because sriracha makes almost anything better, and adds a nice heat to this sandwich that makes it extra special.  Green bell peppers are perfect for these sandwiches – their natural slight bitterness is played up by the char, and then balanced by the mayonnaise.

You can either broil, grill, or fry these peppers – I broiled them, for the simple factor that it’s slightly healthier than frying and I didn’t think it made a whole lot of sense to fire up the grill just for these.  I’ve had the sandwich prepared all three ways, and it’s good no matter what.  Even Zak, an avowed green pepper disliker, was pleased with this.

Charred Pepper Sandwich

1 large green bell pepper

4 slices bread

2-3 tbs. mayonnaise

2-3 tsp. sriracha

Freshly cracked black pepper

Option one:  Preheat broiler.  Place pepper under the broiler and broil 3-5 minutes per side until deeply charred.  Transfer to a ziplock bag for 2-3 minutes.  Using a pair of tongs, separate charred outer flesh from tender inner flesh.  Spread mayonnaise and sriracha on the bread.  Season with pepper.  Cut peppers into strips and place them on the bread.

Option two:  Preheat grill.  Place pepper on the grill and grill 5-7 minutes per side until deeply charred.  Transfer to a ziplock bag for 2-3 minutes.  Using a pair of tongs, separate charred outer flesh from tender inner flesh.  Spread mayonnaise and sriracha on the bread.  Season with pepper.  Cut peppers into strips and place them on the bread.

Option three:  You will also need 2-3 tbs. of canola or vegetable oil.  In a large non-stick pan, heat oil over high heat.  Meanwhile, cut pepper into strips.  Fry peppers 8-10 minutes, tossing frequently, until heated through and charred in spots, being sure to use a splatter guard.  If necessary, remove tough charred outer flesh from inner tender flesh.  Spread mayonnaise and sriracha on the bread.  Season with pepper.  Cut peppers into strips and place them on the bread.

Pickled Shallots and Sardines on Blue Cheese Toast

24 Jul

This is a pictureless post, because it’s something I eat for lunch in the office and I haven’t been able to either get my wits about me enough in the morning to remember to pack the camera or get a picture that looks like more than a blurry blob with my super crappy cell phone in our not-so-well-lighted lunch room.  But the results are so delicious – and such a great way to use the pickled shallots I recently posted – that I absolutely could not resist posting it.

This lunch is super inappropriate to eat in the office.  Sardines plus blue cheese plus pickles = smelly factory.  So I always make sure I have plenty of gum in my purse for after.  Because as a huge lover of both sardines and blue cheese, once I started thinking about this dish I absolutely could not get it out of my mind.  Also, since we went on vacation a bit back, I had been holding off on grocery shopping until we’d received our first week’s CSA share – so things were looking a bit sparse in both the pantry and refrigerator.

Those lean times tend to be when I make some of my favorite dishes, and this is no exception.  So much that I made it again a few days later, when my pantry and fridge were fully stocked.  This open-faced sandwich is definitely not for the faint of heart (err … palate).  The blue cheese is pungent and rich and creamy.  The sardines are, well, sardine-y – briney and delicious.  The pickles are packed with a punch of coriander and vinegar, cutting through the richness of the cheese and fishiness of the sardines.  Balanced with a punch of mustard, this whole dish is spot on.

Pickled Shallots and Sardines on Blue Cheese Toast

4 slices whole wheat bread

1 can sardines packed in oil or water (your preference), chilled and drained, roughly chopped

1/3 cup blue cheese crumbles

1/3 cup pickled shallots and garlic, thinly sliced

2 tbs. pickling liquid from pickled shallots and garlic

1 heaping tsp. Dijon mustard

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Lightly toast the whole wheat bread.  Top each slice with half of the blue cheese crumbles.

Transfer either to a preheated broiler or place in the microwave for about thirty seconds until cheese is bubbling and melting.

Meanwhile, whisk together the pickle juice and mustard.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Top each cheesy toast slice with sardines, sliced pickles, and a tablespoon or so of the pickle juice mixture.

Roasted Red Pepper and Black Bean “Burgers”

7 Jun

This veggie burger was quite the success.  In part, I think, because I didn’t try too hard to imitate a regular beef-patty burger.  Rather, it’s a mix between a traditional veggie burger patty and  a fritter, modeled off of the roasted red pepper and feta fritters that were one of Zak’s favorite items from the first year of the blog.  This burger was a far cry from some of the very “one note” veggie burgers I’ve tried.  Instead, each bite is packed with smokey roasted red peppers, salty feta, sweet corn, rich black beans, sharp scallions, and bright, fresh parsley.  The awesome pickled red onions (seriously, they are going to be a constantly-in-the-fridge staple from now on in our house) made it feel extra special, while the light smear (or healthy dollop, your choice!) of mayo kept the whole thing together perfectly.

The patty stayed together well thanks to an egg and a sprinkling of whole wheat flour, neither of which detracted from the fresh taste of all the vegetables.  Just be careful not to add too much flour, or this will end up tasting too much of flour and not enough of veg.  It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, but you’re already getting a lot of dough-y flavor from the hamburger bun and even more could easily drown out all of the vegetable flavor.

Roasted Red Pepper and Black Bean “Burgers”

Roasted Red Pepper and Black Bean Patties:

Makes 3-4 patties

1 1/2 medium red bell peppers

Non-stick cooking spray

3/4 cup frozen corn kernels, defrosted

1/2 cup black beans, rinsed and slight smashed with a fork

1 cup flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

2 green onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced

1 large clove garlic, finely minced

1/4 cup feta, crumbled

1 egg, lightly beaten

About 3-4 tbs. all-natural, whole wheat flour

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 tbs. corn oil

Preheat broiler.

Cover a baking sheet with tinfoil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Place red pepper halves on baking sheet and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Place in broiler and broil 20 minutes, flipping halfway through, until flesh of peppers is blacked and charred.

Transfer immediately to a zip lock bag and zip closed.  Let sit until cool enough to handle, about 20 minutes.  Remove the skins from the peppers – they should easily slide off at this point.

Roughly chop the roasted red peppers.  If there is a lot of liquid in the peppers, drain through a colander.

In a medium bowl, mix together chopped roasted red peppers, corn, black beans, parsley, garlic, feta, kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Mix together thoroughly.

Slowly mix in flour until the fritters will hold together.

Heat oil in a 10″ cast iron skillet over medium high heat.  Spoon about 1/3 cup of fritter mixture, formed into patties, into the pan and cook 3-5 minutes per side until firm in the middle and slightly charred on the outside.  Serve as directed below.

Assembly:

3-4 hamburger buns

3-4 roasted red pepper and black bean patties

Mayonnaise, for serving (optional)

Pickled red onions, for serving (optional)

Spread both halves of the hamburger bun with mayo.  Add roasted red pepper and black bean patty (see above).  Top with pickled red onions.  Serve immediately.

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