Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Kale, Beet, and Quinoa Salad for the First Spring Market

Hooray! Mark your calendars because the start date for the 2011 Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market is set for Sunday April 17th! Celebrate having filed your taxes by coming down to the corner of Agate and 19th Street between 10 am and 2:30 pm for some early spring produce. In honor of this auspicious news, here's a warm salad with some ingredients one might expect to find at the market: kale and beets.

This recipe starts with the rich colors of black and red quinoa (ever since a pantry shortage last summer, I've been making mixtures of different colored quinoa, or "confetti quinoa"). I paired the grain with a similar pallet of vegetables: purple kale and red beets. For a hearty salad, I decided to experiment with roasting both the kale and the beets, each with its own allium, to contrast how the different vegetables react to high heat.

To prepare the beets, I peeled and chopped them, along with a couple of shallots, and tossed them in olive oil, salt and pepper. Then I roasted them for about 30 minutes, until the beets were tender and the shallots had started to caramelize.

Meanwhile I cut the kale leaves from the hard stalks, tossed them with chopped garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper, and added them to the hot oven for about 15 minutes, until they just started to brown around the edges.

The toasted, garlicy kale became the crisp base of the salad onto which I layered the quinoa and sweet, soft beets, tossed in a vinaigrette made from the roasted shallots. I finished the salad with a sprinkle of sharp feta, for added richness. Served warm, this would make a delicious post Farmers Market lunch.

Warm Quinoa Salad with Roasted Beets and Kale

For the salad:
  • 1 bunch purple kale
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • medium sized red beets
  • 1/2 cup red quinoa
  • 1/2 cup black quinoa
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 ounces crumbled feta cheese
For the dressing:
  • shallots
  • 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • salt to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel the beets and cut into approximately 1 inch chunks (about 8 pieces per medium-sized beet). Peel the shallots and cut into similarly sized pieces (about 4 pieces per shallot). Put in a baking pan, drizzle with some olive oil to coat, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the beets are soft.
  2. Meanwhile, cut or rip the kale leaves from their thick stems, and rip into bite sized pieces. Mince the garlic cloves. Place the kale leaves and garlic in a large casserole dish, pour on enough oil to coat, plenty of salt, and pepper to taste, and toss well. Roast the kale leaves in the oven for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they smell toasty and start to brown on the edges.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the quinoa. Heat a cooking pot until you can feel the heat radiating from the bottom when you hold your hand at the top of the pan. Add the quinoa and toast for about 5 minutes, shaking the pot frequently, until you can smell the toasting grain. Add 1 1/4 cup water, bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and simmer partially covered for about 15 minutes until all of the water is absorbed and the quinoa grains have released their little halos.
  4. When the beets are ready, remove the shallot pieces to a mini or regular sized food processor or blender. Transfer the beets to a bowl and mix with the cooked quinoa. Deglaze the hot pan in which you roasted the beets and shallots with the sherry vinegar and transfer to the processor. Add the water, sugar, and smoked paprika and blend until smooth. Stir into the quinoa and beet mixture.
  5. Assemble the salad. Plate a bed of toasted kale, then spoon on the quinoa and beets, and finally sprinkle over the feta cheese. Serve warm.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Ricotta Floats in a Sea of Peas

After another one of my recipes, for shredded carrot and parsnip curry soup, was awarded an editor's pick on the food52 site, my daughter and I decided to try in earnest to enter a winning recipe for the ongoing contest for a recipe involving fresh ricotta. My daughter reasoned that the most delicious food in the world is fresh pasta (she is an expert pasta maker), so we started from there. One of my favorite quick pasta dishes by Marcella Hazan involves stirring pasta with fresh ricotta, peas and bacon. These ingredients were the inspiration for a meal of deconstructed ravioli in a pea sauce with prosciutto garnish. Although the dish sounds pretty posh, it was actually simple enough to pull off on a weeknight with my husband out of town, aided by my accomplished seven year old sous chef, and several engrossing Thomas the Tank Engine episodes for my three year old son.

While my daughter rolled out the pasta,

I sauteed some frozen peas and fresh chives in butter (fresh peas would be lovely, but one can only dream about them at this point in the year).

I pureed these with plenty of fresh parsley and some lemon juice. The flavor was nice and bright with a pleasant sweetness. The consistency was a little thicker than I would have liked, and later when preparing a second helping, I experimented with thinning the pea sauce with a little water, which I would recommend.

When the pasta was rolled out thin enough, we cut the sheets into approximately 4 by 4 inch sheets and cooked them quickly in rapidly boiling water.

Meanwhile, I prepared a garnish of prosciutto squares sauteed in a little butter with lemon zest. Then we assembled everything, including the key ingredient of fresh ricotta.

In the end my daughter decided to eat her pasta plain with olive oil and fresh parmesan cheese, although she did have a bite of the pea sauce and prosciutto garnish and deemed them "okay". My three year old son, a committed carnivore, devoured several slices of prosciutto before I noticed what was happening, and then had no interest in pasta. I thought the dish was delicious. We'll see what the judges think.

Fresh Pasta Ricotta Floats in a Sea of Peas
For the pasta:
  • eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup water, or more as needed
  • olive oil
For the sauce and garnish:
  • 3 cups fresh shelled peas or a 10 ounce bag of frozen peas, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divide use
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • slices prosciutto
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 cup fresh ricotta
  • plenty of fresh ground pepper
  • salt to taste

    1. Prepare the pasta dough in a food processor by mixing together the flour, eggs, and salt. Gradually add water until the dough just starts to come together into a ball. Gather the dough and slice it into approximately 12 slices. Roll out using a hand crank pasta maker or by hand, until the dough is the desired thinness. Cut the strips of dough into approximately 4 inch square pieces, but don't worry about the ragged edges.
    2. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and add the fresh pasta squares. Allow the water to come back to a boil and cook for about one minute, tasting a corner to check that it is has the desired bite. Drain the pasta and drizzle on a little olive oil to prevent the squares from sticking to each other.
    3. While the pasta water is heating, prepare the pea sauce. Heat a skillet and melt 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter. When the butter is foaming, add the peas, salt and pepper, and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the fresh chopped chives and stir for another minute. Add 1/2 cup water and cook until the peas are soft. If using frozen peas, they will be almost done when you add the water, but fresh peas will need to simmer a little longer. Remove the peas from the heat. In a food processor, chop the parsley leaves and lemon juice. Add the cooked peas and process into a smooth, runny paste. You may need to add a little more water to achieve the right consistency. Return the sauce to the skillet to keep warm. Adjust seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, or lemon juice to taste.
    4. Prepare the prosciutto garnish. Cut the prosciutto into approximately 1/2 inch pieces. Heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter in a small skillet and when it is foaming, add the prosciutto, a generous grinding of pepper, and the lemon zest. Separate the prosciutto pieces and cook for about 5 minutes until they become crispy. Remove from heat.
    5. In pre-warmed pasta bowls, assemble the floats. Ladle in the pea sauce (heat it up for a moment before serving if it's cooled down). Layer on 3 or 4 pasta squares per plate and top each with a generous dollop of fresh ricotta (you'll have some leftover pasta for seconds). Sprinkle on the crispy prosciutto, and serve at once. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Dutch Bullet Bean Soup with Indian Spices

With the rainy weather persisting, I was craving a a bean soup with a rich pallet of spices. A bunch of spinach in the refrigerator and a box of strained Pomi tomatoes in the pantry were the inspiration for an rich bean soup with Indian spices. Of our selection of CSA heirloom beans from Lonesome Whistle Farm, the small Dutch bullets seemed the best suited for this dish, recalling small mung beans. 

For spices, I used a combination of cumin, coriander, turmeric, and mustard powder. I sauteed chopped onion in oil until soft, then added the spices until fragrant, and then diluted in the strained tomatoes, 2 cups of Dutch bullet beans, and 6 cups of water. 

I left the beans to simmer on very low heat, partially covered, until they were tender, about 3 hours.

When we were almost ready for dinner, I washed and chopped the spinach,

and prepared a tarka of hot oil with fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, and cayenne pepper. With the heat off, I stirred in the spinach and spicy oil, and we enjoyed warm bean soup to ward off the drizzly weather. 

Dutch Bullet Bean Soup with Indian Spices

2 cups Dutch bullet beans, rinsed 
1 small onion, chopped
4 Tbsp neutral oil such as grape seed, divide use
26 ounces strained tomatoes (such as Pomi)
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp mustard powder
salt to taste
6 cups water
1 bunch spinach
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste

1. Sautee the chopped onion in 2 Tbsp oil until soft. Add the ground cumin, turmeric, coriander, and mustard powder and cook for about a minute, until fragrant. Add the strained tomatoes, beans, and 6 cups of water. Allow to simmer on very low heat, partially covered, until the beans are soft, about 3 hours. Add plenty of salt to taste.

2. Rinse and densely chop the spinach leaves. Heat the remaining 2 Tbsp of oil in a small pan and add the fenugreek and cumin seeds and cayenne and cook until fragrant. Turn of the heat for the beans and stir in the fresh spinach and spicy oil. Enjoy.

Other recipes for heirloom beans:

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Lonesome Whistle Farmers in the NYTimes

Kasey White and Jeff Broadie of Lonesome Whistle Farm are featured in this New York Times article about A New Generation of Farmers. Congratulations!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Arikara Beans with Tomatillo Pork

This past weekend I think I officially became a bean snob. I recreated a favorite dish I've made many times before, inspired by a recipe from Rick Bayless' Mexican Everyday cookbook, in which you slow cook pork in tomatillos, and finish with canned white bean. But this time I added Arikara dried beans from Lonesome Whistle Farm during the cooking process, and the end result was so delicious, that I can't imagine ever using canned bean in this dish again. 

Rick Bayless' dish involves a sauce of chopped tomatillos, flavored with cilantro, garlic, and pickled jalapenos. I added a fresh jalapeno as well for a little extra heat. 

In the Bayless version, he seasons cubed pork with Worcestershire sauce, which gives a nice depth to the tart tomatillos. Rather than bothering to cube the pork, I've taken to cooking an entire pork roast until it becomes soft enough to shred like pulled pork. I start by coating the roast with Worcestershire sauce and searing it for a few minutes, before layering in the tomatillos, cilantro, garlic, and jalapenos. This time I cooked the dish on high in a slow cooker for 3 hours, at which point the tomatillos had cooked down into a remarkably liquid sauce. 

I removed the pork to a plate and used a immersion blender to puree the sauce. Then I added back the pork and 2 cups of rinsed Arikara beans. I set the slow cooker on low and continued the cooking process for another 3 hours. 

I anticipated having to add in some water, but in fact the beans stayed submerged in their tart green bath and plumped and softened nicely. 

When the beans were tender, I removed the pork and shredded it. Then I recombined everything and it was ready to serve.

To accompany the tomatillo beans and pork, I prepared a slaw that incorporated the crunchy sweetness of carrots, refreshing taste of jicama, brightness of red peppers, and sharp bite of radishes against a background of slightly pickled cabbage.

One could prepare the vegetables by shredding them in a food processor, but I think they retain a more satisfying crunch when julienned by hand. To contrast the cilantro flavor in the beans, I used fresh chives, which also hold up better over time (even using a very small cabbage, this recipe made enough for several days).

The final meal was a delicious improvement on a family favorite.

Arikara Beans with Tomatillo Pork

2 cups Arikara beans rinsed, or substitute white kidney beans
1 lb fresh tomatillos
1 bunch cilantro
6 garlic cloves
4-6 pickled jalapenos
1 fresh jalapeno (optional)
1 1/2 lb boneless pork roast 
~2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp neutral oil such as grapeseed
salt to taste

1. Douse the pork with Worcestershire sauce all over. Heat the oil and sear the pork on all sides until it starts to brown. Remove from heat and put in a slow cooker. Husk the tomatillos and cut them into chunks. Seed the fresh jalapeno and coursely chop both kinds of jalapenos, and the garlic cloves. Use scissors to cut off the leaves of the cilantro. Add all of these to the slow cooker, and cook on high for about three hours.

2. Remove the pork to a plate. Use an immersion blender to puree the tomatillo sauce until smooth. Add the beans and, if needed, enough water to ensure that they are submerged. Add back the pork and cook on low for about three hours, until the beans are soft.

3. Remove the pork and use a fork to shred. Salt the beans to taste. Stir in the shredded pork and keep warm. Serve on warm tortillas with a crunch slaw.

Crunchy Carrot, Jicama, and Radish Slaw

2 carrots
1 small jicama
12 radishes
½ red bell pepper
½ savoy cabbage
1 handful of chives, chopped
3 limes
½ cup rice vinegar
1 tsp sugar
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
3 Tbsp olive oil
salt to taste
1. Remove the outer layers of the cabbage if damaged, core and chop finely. In a small sauce pan combine the juice of 2 limes, rice vinegar, sugar, red pepper flakes, and salt to taste, and heat until the sugar and salt dissolve. Pour over the chopped cabbage, mix, and allow the cabbage to pickle for a few minutes while you prepare the other vegetables.

2. Peel the carrots and jicama and cut them into thin 1 inch long matchsticks. Top and tail the radishes and cut them into thin half moons. Cut thin lengthwise slices of pepper and cross-sect them into thirds. Combine the carrot, jicama, radish, bell pepper, with shopped chives, juice from one lime, olive oil, and salt to taste.

3. When you are ready to serve the slaw, stir the crunch carrots and company into the cabbage. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Other recipes for heirloom beans: