Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Celery Root: The Unsung Vegetable Hero - My first guest post!

I'm very excited to share with you my first ever guest post!

When Jen Reilly, a dietitian, author, and blogger from Washington, D.C, asked if I would write a guest post about a "crazy unique veggie or grain" for her blog, I jumped at the opportunity. Jen is the author of the "Cooking with Trader Joe's Cookbook: Skinny Dish!". You might recall I blogged about her recipe for Energy Bars from that book.

Jen's blog features vegan recipes, so I chose to make the vegan variation of a gratin out my trusty How to Cook Everything Vegetarian Cookbook using celery root and bulgur.

So please head on over to Jen's blog and check it out, and you can look forward to a post from Jen on this blog in the near future!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Pasta with Black Kale, Caramelized Onions, and Parsnips

Trying to eat more vegetables? This pasta dish is packed with eight cups of kale, a pound of parsnips, and an onion. It's so good it doesn't even feel like it's healthy.

Pasta with Black Kale, Caramelized Onions, and Parsnips
adapted from Cooking Light - October 2010
serves 4-6

Notes: According to the magazine, this recipe yields six servings, but each serving is only about 325 calories, which was not enough to make me feel satisfied by itself. Both Joe and I wanted seconds. If this is all you're making, and you are feeling pretty hungry, I would say it serves 4. Black kale is dark green and has leaves that are a little flatter and not as crinkly as regular kale, but if your store doesn't have it, regular kale is fine.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 cups (1/3-inch) diagonally cut parsnip (about 1 pound)
2 1/2 cups sliced onion (about 1 large)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
8 cups trimmed chopped black kale (for me that was about 2 bunches)
1/2 cup organic vegetable broth
8 ounces uncooked penne pasta, whole wheat or regular
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, add one tablespoon of the oil. When hot, add the parsnip to the pan. Cook until tender and slightly browned, about 12 minutes, stirring every now and then. Place into a large bowl, cover with foil and keep warm.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the same pan, turning the heat down to medium-low. Add the onion now, and cook until tender and golden brown, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain pasta, reserving 3/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Set aside

Sprinkle the thyme and garlic over the onion and cook for a couple of minutes; it will become fragrant. Add the wine and cook for a few more minutes, or until the liquid has almost evaporated. Add the kale and broth and cover. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the kale has wilted a bit and starts to become tender. Uncover and cook a few more minutes, or until the kale is very tender, stirring occasionally.

Add the drained pasta and parsnips to the kale mixture. Stir in a little of the cooking liquid (start with 1/4 cup and keep adding as needed to moisten), 1/4 cup Parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste (start with 1/2 teaspoon of each and go from there as needed). Cook for a minute or so to thoroughly heat everything. Top each serving with the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Citrus Beet Salad

So I know next week is Valentine's Day, and I know I'm supposed to be anxiously awaiting what expensive gift my husband is going surprise me with so I can post a picture of it on Facebook (gag), but honestly, February 14th is just going to be a regular Tuesday in this house, so the deep red color of the beets in this salad is about as festive as it's going to get on this blog.

Sure, back when Joe and I started dating in college we did the whole gifts/flowers/nice dinner hoopla. But it's been eight years now, and it just feels so artificial to go all out on just one day of the year. It's money we don't need to spend, more stuff we don't need, and sweets we are trying to avoid.

I don't need a gift on some arbitrary day to know that my husband loves me.

I know he loves me because of the million little awesome things he does all year long, such as:

...getting up much earlier than any graduate student should to make me scrambled eggs for breakfast before I dash out the door to work.

...sending me links to cat videos he knows will perk up my day.

...making me a cup of tea after dinner.

...noticing when I have the hiccups and then sneaking up and scaring the crap out of me to make them go away.

...when I get visibly angry and frustrated about something, he yells, "We'll do it live! F*ing thing sucks!" just like Bill O'Reilly because he knows it will make me laugh and thus lighten my mood (I do it to him too, it works every time!).

That's what passes for love in my house, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Oh, and if you haven't seen the video of O'Reilly flipping out, you really should: 

Now that I'm done ranting about Valentine's Day, let's get back to this beet salad. I didn't stray much from Rachael Ray's version, except that I chose to roast the beets instead of boil them. We just really like roasted beets. After roasting, the peel just comes right off (and the beet juice stains on your hands will come right off too with a little soap and water, so no worries there!).

You could serve this salad just like it is as a side dish, or pile it over some quinoa or other grain like we did for a complete meal. Makes a great lunch the next day too!

Citrus Beet Salad
adapted from Rachael Ray Magazine - June 2009
serves 4

4 large (or 6 medium) beets
5-6 tangerines or clementines, peeled and separated into sections
1 small red onion (use 1/2 if you don't like a lot of raw red onion), finely chopped
handful fresh mint, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 400 F. Wash the beets, then wrap individually in foil and put them on a cookie sheet or in a roasting pan.

Bake, undisturbed for 45 to 90 minutes. They are done when you can pierce them easily with a knife (don't bother unwrapping them, just stick the knife right through the foil). The large range of time is because they may cook at different rates, especially if they are not all quite the same size. Just remove them as they are done. Unwrap them and set them aside to cool. When they are cool enough to handle, peel them (it comes right off so easily, just use your fingers) and chop them into 1/2-inch pieces.

Put the beets, tangerine segments, onion, mint, and oil into a large bowl and gently toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste and top with the goat cheese. Serve on its own as a side or over a grain like quinoa for a complete meal. 
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