Whoa Nelly, it’s basil season! Green herbage in general is exceptional this time of year in the Pacific Northwest. I scored today at the farmer’s market I really did! I got some gorgeous “loose” meaning not “perfect” golden beets, whatever a perfect beet is, for $1 dollar a lb! I got the most gorgeous bunch of amaranth and basil for $2 dollar a bunch, which basically looks like an herbal bridal bouquet. Of course our friends at the hazelnut booth had their wonderful raw hazelnuts, so I was set. In my never ending quest to lose 30 lbs. and be free of my ever annoying body issues, I have been trying to adhere to Dr. Furhman’s 6 week all plant based, non-processed diet. Well actually I am on day two, and gotta say it isn’t so bad, it’s kinda great, I am of course not cutting my coffee consumption, and only reducing my beer, we went to the Oregon brewer’s fest yesterday…haha! So today’s recipe is entirely VEGAN! My friend Jenn finally convinced me to give it try after we discussed our similar baby weight, retaining weight while nursing trials, she finally lost her remaining lbs. by doing Dr. Fuhrman’s plan, which she still quite strictly adheres to. Don’t be fooled this salad is delicious, healthy, plant based, oil free, and local! It would be great topped with goat cheese or grilled chicken or fish.
You will need:
2 medium beets, I used golden, I boiled them skin on for about 25 minutes, if you cut them first it will take less time to cook them. Cool, peel, slice.
2 cups of amaranth leaves or greens of choice, arugula would be great
¼ cup diced red peppers, mainly for color, use tomatoes if you prefer
Hazelnut pesto dressing:
¼ cup raw hazelnuts, soaked for 20 minutes in hot water
¼ red wine vinegar
2tbsp soy sauce or Bragg’s
1 cup fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
Ground black pepper
Blend like the dickens, meaning till smooth, if you have a vitamix that is easy…if you have a stick blender like me it takes a bit of effort but this is totally amazing, considering its low on salt and only has the natural unprocessed oils from the hazelnuts.
Assemble anyway you like and eat! Serves two as a meal.
As for my quest for health, I will keep you updated, but I do like learning all types of cookery and I think the more you know about each genre the better you get, and I am very new to this type of cooking but thus far I find it fascinating!
Lately I’ve been obsessed with Farm to table chef Dan Barber’s Cauliflower steak recipe, Food 52 is the site I found it on, so basically I adapted his recipe but put the “Oscar style” spin on it. I was thinking to myself….what is my favorite steak house order? The answer is Oscar (steak, usually sirloin or tenderloin, topped with crab, asparagus, and hollandaise). I figured if I was going to replace beef with cauliflower I better make it just as decedent as a steak house meal is. His recipe calls for one head of cauliflower/seared till golden/salt & pepper/finished in a 350 oven for 10 or 15 minutes. I cut the sides off the cauliflower and used the middle to make two 1 1/2 inch slices to be consistent with a prime cut of steak. I also used a orange cauliflower, my store carries this, but you can always use regular, white cauliflower. So with the side florets you boil those in 2 cups water, 1 cup milk (you can use whatever you like, easily made vegan) for 10 minutes until very tender, in Dan’s recipe he puts the florets with one cup of cooking water and blends to make a puree, I did this as well but I added in butter, 2T (sub smart balance to make vegan hollandaise), and lemon, 1/2 juiced to make it faux hollandaise, because my cauliflower was orange it made the perfect color to be hollandaise, if using white cauliflower add 1/2 teaspoon of tumeric to get that yellow “egg yolk” shade. Blanch asparagus/prepare crab, remove shells etc. For assembly I put my “hollandaise” at the bottom, topped with the “Steak” added asparagus topped with crab (omit for vegan or use a vegan product), a lil more sauce a bit of cayenne (typical in hollandaise), and topped with some micro greens. It was AMAZING!!! Originally I was planning on a traditional egg based hollandaise but as I was cooking I realized I could use cauliflower in place of eggs and make a totally vegan hollandaise sauce! Dan Barber’s philosophy was a wonderful muse for my own creation, using veg cooked in methods usually used for meat is an awesome way to bring out the satisfying side of our veggie friends, and I think making it “Oscar style” really elevated it to a whole new level! Seriously try this, even the biggest carnivore will be begging for more and this is a healthy alternative!
When we moved here to Portland two years ago, I didn’t really know what to expect. Sure I had my ideas of what it was like, but living here has opened the door to all types of things I didn’t consider before. We live in the Northeast and benefit from many a walk-able amenity. We rent a house in the Hollywood district, where many of Beverly Cleary’s books are based. It’s a beautiful neighborhood, with tall, tree lined streets and unique architecture. I will always smile upon this period of my life, not because of its perfection…much to the contrary, more because I have started to appreciate the moment more, simple pleasures….one of those being our local farmer’s market. It doesn’t matter how lousy I feel or how tired I am, walking a few blocks to see what our local community has to offer makes me feel inspired and motivated to work on my craft.
The feeling I get when tasting seasonal produce, or admiring the works or music of local artists is not something I could put a price on, and definitely is not something that can be experienced by a trip to Wal-mart.
This market is a reflection of the passion of not only the consumers, but the vendors as well. I feel like if I have to be a consumer I want to feel like I am being responsible…. and by shopping locally, I feel better about parting with my hard earned dollar, actually it is quite a nice experience, opposed the usual hum-drum shopping trip.
Some say it’s “Too Expensive” to buy local….but I think its quite to contrary….you not only lose out on taste and quality but in life experience, its like the difference between driving a BMW or driving a caravan….live rich, be wealthy in experiences.
I love that my kids get to have this experience while they are in their formative years….priceless.
So it always amazes me how much the quality of ingredients affect how good a dish is. You can spend all day making a dish with great technique and plating, but if your produce is old was it worth your time? I love beets they are delicious, sweet, healthy and turn into heaven when roasted. The farmer’s market in my hood, had the most amazing beets! I grabbed two bunches not really thinking much about it, when I went to prepare them for my dish, I noticed that one bunch were the most beautiful tiger stripped beets i’d ever seen!
I peeled them and set the oven to 400 degrees, the stripped beets I sliced with mandolin, the red beets I cut into quarters. They cooked for about twenty minutes, while they cooked I prepared the beet greens, by rough chopping and boiling in salted water for about six minutes. Beet greens are delicious and many folks just throw them out! Lightly cooked the leaves are similar to spinach and the stalks almost have an asparagus flavor to me. After they boil, I toss them in a little red wine vinegar. I decided I would serve the roasted beets with their greens and top with some local goat’s feta and some fresh dill, both that I had purchased at the farmer’s market. To get my daughter excited to eat her veggies, I did a few different plating options and let her pick her favorite. Getting kids involved and making it fun helps to motivate them to try new things….Ava loved the whole thing and cleaned her plate, as did my two year old, and my husband. Beets are always a winner at our house!
Go out and have a veggie adventure, grow your own, or buy from local farmers who use organic growing methods, use good ingredients and you are sure to have something you will be proud of, regardless of how simple it is!
Spring veg right now have been crazy! You can get local stuff right now that is amazing, so I I wanted to devote a recipe technique that can be used any season with whatever is local right then…it is Spring here so that is what we will be focusing on here. Not to mention I found a 2lbs box of imported Italian Arborio rice, the stuff for risotto! Gonna roast some veggies to bring out their natural sugar and starch…it’s a good time. Risotto should be done over medium heat and done with patience and care, many a risotto has been rushed and ruins the integrity of the dish…as with most things…the good stuff takes time and thought. Once mastered, risotto crafting can take on many delicious, crowd pleasing, variations…and its gluten free! So what the hell right?!
1 ½ Cups Arborio rice
1 shallot minced
5 Cups chicken or veg stock
4 Tbsp butter
¼ Cup Parmesan
¼ Cup White Cheddar (I used a sharp, New Zealand import…but use a semi soft cheese of choice)
1 Cup dry white wine, if you won’t drink it, don’t cook with it
In a flat bottomed pot, over medium high heat, I used my le cruset French oven, put a few tbsp. of olive oil, add shallots, brown, add half of the butter, add rice, brown mixture, add wine, when it has evaporated start adding stock, ladle by ladle until the rice is perfectly al dente, probably will take about 25 minutes or so….taste as you go….add cheese and rest of butter, stir, serve right away!
A variety of seasonal treats, I choose some local asparagus roasted at 400 degrees, lightly coated with olive oil and salt for 20 min. I roasted some Leeks, same process as asparagus but takes about 15 minutes longer. I used some petite peas, and then topped it with whipped sundried tomato, which is super easy, basically you rehydrate some dried tomatoes with boiling water, for about 10 minutes, drain all but a ¼ Cup of water, add ½ Cup olive oil, and blend till foamy. Its super tasty, easy, and can be put on anything and will keep in the fridge forever.
This recipe serves four as a main.
Finally! Our farmer’s market is open! Surprisingly there were a few booths I didn’t see last season…I found some really nice stuff. Asparagus….fresh, beautiful, local, asparagus! I made a flat bread the other day with some asparagus I had gotten from out of state….it was good and all, but I can’t really explain the difference in the two varieties…the one today…eons better. It felt supple and kinda fuzzy, I kept telling the lady that they felt velvety, and she was like yeah dorko they were picked this morning…not her actual words but you get the gist. Anyway the market never fails to inspire my faith in the world…I know it’s a little weird. With temps being in the 80’s round here, everyone was out today..and unfortunately tamale lady was sold out, but we found some other things to try, and it seemed that summer had stopped by for a surprise visit! I just blanched the asparagus in sea salt, boiling water, for maybe 3 minutes and then put them in an ice bath so they retain their bright green color. I then placed them on a plate and added some walnut pesto I had made earlier (any Genovese variety would work)..seriously so good! I am always amazed by how a vegetable could taste so much better when it’s not been on a truck for a month before sold…picked before its ready so it will have a longer shelf life, ugh…some things aren’t meant to have a long shelf life, you just enjoy them why they are there and in their prime. I also found some spring onions that I used in some ramen, and I bought some gorgeous rainbow chard!