Roasted Beets and Polenta, Two Ways

Polenta Cake, Beet Greens, Goat Cheese, Roasted beets, and Walnuts

Polenta Cake, Beet Greens, Goat Cheese, Roasted beets, and Walnuts

You read enough recipes and it becomes second nature. You just know certain things work well together–like beets and goat cheese. So you walk into the kitchen with a vague idea of what you plan to do, but then, as you get going, you let your instincts take over and you just enjoy the ride.

Beets are washed, wrapped in foil, and put in the oven to roast. Chopping garlic scapes, you feel compelled to toss a handful of them into the creamy polenta cooking (too quickly!) on the stove. After stirring in the garlic scapes, you scoop the polenta into a pan and move it to the oven to cook more slowly.

Beautiful beet greens

Beautiful beet greens

Turning your attention to the mess of beet greens, you decide they would be best if cooked down, so you set about washing and chopping them. As the timer alerts you that the beets have finished roasting, you contemplate the options of how best to use the yummy tahini dressing you just made, now that the greens will be cooked down. Drizzled over top perhaps? No, you decide, tossed with the roasted and diced beets! Removing the polenta from the oven, you cut it into six squares, and remove one to be pan seared, creating a nice and crispy cake. You toss the greens into the pan, working quickly to pull it all together after what has been a quite laborious process.

Greens ready, you begin to layer your creation.

Layers of love

Layers of love

Polenta cake, beet greens, a few dollops of goat cheese, tahini-dressed roasted beets…

Something’s missing…

Walnuts!

You grab a few from the bag your purchased just this morning, crumble them in your hand, and scatter them over the top.

Viola!

Dinner is served.

plated 2

Roasted Beets and Polenta Napoleon

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients

  • 6 medium-sized beets and their greens
  • 1 cup polenta (coarsely ground cornmeal)
  • salt
  • 3 cups water
  • Butter, for the pan
  • 2 Tablespoons garlic scapes, chopped (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons tahini
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped garlic scapes
  • 3 Tablespoons water, as needed
  • goat cheese
  • walnuts

Method

Prepare the beets: Thoroughly clean each beet, and wrap, individually, in foil. Roast in a 375 degree oven, about 45 minutes, until tender when pierced with a fork. Once cooked, open the foil and allow the beets to cool. Run under cool water and use your fingers to peel the skin from the beets (it should be very easy to do!). Dice the beets and set aside in a bowl.

Wash and coarsely chop the beet greens, discarding most of the stems. Set aside.

Prepare the Polenta: Bring 3 cups of lightly salted water to boil. Slowly whisk in the polenta, reduce heat to simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Stir in garlic and transfer the polenta to a small baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Prepare the dressing: Whisk or shake tahini, lemon juice, vinegar, honey garlic, and water until well combined.

Putting it all together: Toss the roasted beets with the tahini dressing (as much as looks good to you). Cut the polenta into squares. Heat butter in a skillet over medium heat. Pan sear each square, flattening it a bit, about 2 minutes per side. Remove polenta from the pan, and add the greens, stirring until they are nicely wilted, about 3 – 5 minutes.

Layer the polenta cake, greens, a few dollops of cheese, a mound of beets, and a sprinkle of almonds.

Beet and Polenta "Quiche"

**Beet and Polenta “Quiche”

Beet and Polenta “Quiche”

Serves 3

Ingredients

  • Roasted beets, as per above
  • Beet greens, wilted
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Cooked polenta, as per above
  • Goat cheese

Method

Spread polenta squares in the bottom of an oven-proof skillet. Spread cooked beet greens and roasted beets over top of the polenta. Crumble goat cheese over the vegetables. Whisk eggs, milk, salt, and pepper in a bowl until well beaten. Pour the egg mixture over top.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 – 40 minutes, until set. Finish under the broiler for 2 – 5 minutes, until lightly browned.

**When I posted this picture on Instagram, Helene asked me for my “recipe.”  The recipe above provides loose instructions for how I used the leftovers from the Napoleon recipe to create a “quiche” of sorts. Perhaps “tortilla” would have been a better description… the egg soaks into the polenta like it would the potatoes in tortilla espanola, but also sits lightly on top, as a quiche  would sit in its crust.

Enjoy!

-L

Zucchini Sweet Potato Fritters

Zucchini/Sweet Potato Fritters with Yogurt Sauce

Zucchini/Sweet Potato Fritters with Yogurt Sauce

As I’ve told you before, on Saturday mornings, I go to the Charlottesville City Market. Since April, these market visits have also been coffee dates with Sarah. We gab about recipes we have created recently and our ever-evolving life plans as we seek out our favorite vendors and discover new ones.

A few weeks ago, when neither of us needed to be buying anything else, we saw the most beautiful potatoes at a little produce stand that I remember purchasing from in years past–they proudly display a plaque that identifies them as one of the oldest vendors at our market. A young man was behind the table, while an older man, with one of the most thick southern accents I have come across in recent memory, stood next to the table, chatting with customers as they stopped to check out his veggies. As Sarah and I discussed the lovely potatoes before us, the old farmer not only convinced us each to buy some, but he threw in extras as a bonus! My bonus was two small, white sweet potatoes.

White Sweet Potatoes

White Sweet Potatoes

I quickly decided exactly what to do with the potatoes– combine them with the zucchini I had at home to make zucchini/potato fritters. And so, as usual, I did a bit of research to see exactly how one creates the fritters I had in mind. I looked for both zucchini recipes and potato recipes, and found inspiration from Smitten Kitchen and Sprouted Kitchen, two blogs I read regularly.

As more and more time passes since I first began to read blogs, I realize that these women are becoming my “friends”–even those with whom I have never spoken. I know little bits about their lives, the precious moments they share with the world, and I learn about them through the recipes they create. As I read their posts, study their recipes, and make them my own, it’s like I am in the kitchen with a good friend. I only wish I could be in the kitchen with these women, sipping tea and learning from them, playing the role of sous chef, or just watching them work.

For now, I’ll have to settle for cooking their recipes–or my variations on them.

Fritters cook best in a Cast Iron skillet

Fritters cook best in a Cast Iron skillet

Zucchini Sweet Potato Fritters with Yogurt Sauce

Inspired by Smitten Kitchen and Sprouted Kitchen

Makes about 8 fritters

Fritter Ingredients

  • 2 small zucchini
  • 2 small white sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 1/2 medium onion, peeled
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • butter and coconut oil for the skillet

Yogurt Sauce Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (I used 2%)
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • garlic scapes, finely chopped

Method

Coarsely shred the vegetables in a food processor. Toss with the salt, and let sit for 10 minutes before straining through cheesecloth (or paper towels) to squeeze out excess water. Combine the vegetables with the egg, flour, and pepper.

Melt a generous amount of coconut oil and butter in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Scoop about 2 Tablespoons of the mixture for each patty. Press patties flat in the pan and cook about 3 – 4 minutes per side. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Keep warm and crisp in a 200 degree oven until ready to serve.

For the yogurt sauce, combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Dollop generously over top the fritters.

Dinner is served

Dinner is served

I took Sara‘s advice and served my fritters with greens on the side and a fried egg on top. It was a perfectly delicious weeknight dinner, and would make a pretty terrific Sunday brunch, too.

Hope you enjoy these as much as I did.

-L

Grilled Cabbage with Honey Mustard Dressing [MMAZ]

Let’s talk about cabbage.

The humble cabbage

The humble cabbage (plus honey mustard dressing)

Such a funny, unassuming (and perhaps under-rated) vegetable. Prior to this winter, I’m not sure if I had ever purchased a whole head of cabbage. Pre-shredded bags of coleslaw mix, sure, but a head of cabbage? Probably not…

This winter, however, I discovered the joys of cabbage, both green and purple, after receiving a head cabbage in a Bounty Box from Relay Foods. Unsure of what to do with my cabbage, I turned to the blog world, where I was inspired by Sarah to cut my cabbage into wedges and roast it in the oven. The resulting wedge salad I created was terrific, and I realized that as with most vegetables, roasting a cabbage is the way to go–the natural sugars caramelize, creating a delicious result. A cabbage is, after all, pretty much just a large brussels sprout, and who doesn’t love roasted brussels sprouts?!

Grilling cabbage

Grilling cabbage

When my parents came into town this weekend and our talks turned to dinner cooked on our new grill, I remembered the lovely savoy cabbages that I had seen at the City Market the past few weeks and began dreaming about grilled cabbage, topped with a dressing inspired by Tim‘s idea for a cashew cream veggie dip and Sarah‘s honey mustard dressing. The result was superb–crispy edges, soft interior, and a dressing with a perfect amount of sweetness, tanginess, and body. It’s a perfect spring recipe as the weather warms to grilling temperatures, but the last of the winter veggies are still lingering at the market.

Grilled Cabbage with Honey Mustard Dressing

Grilled Cabbage with Honey Mustard Dressing

Grilled Cabbage with Honey Mustard Dressing

Ingredients

  • One head of (savoy) cabbage
  • Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup cashews, soaked for 4 – 8 hours and drained (discard the soaking water)
  • apple cider vinegar
  • whole grain mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • soy sauce/tamari
  • water

Method

Remove outer leaves from the cabbage; wash and slice into wedges. Arrange wedges on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.

Combine remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

Grill cabbage wedges until softened, about 5 – 8 minutes per side. Drizzle dressing over the cooked wedges; pass additional dressing around the table, as needed.

Delicious!

Delicious!

A big thanks to Heather for hosting today’s Meatless Monday from A – Z link-up. Be sure to check out the other recipes created for today’s link party for inspiring and creative ways to cook with cabbage.

BWV-Round2-April-Cabbage_thumb

What is your favorite way to prepare cabbage?

-L

WIAW — Cleanse Continued

As I mentioned last week, I’ve been following a modified version of the Food Lover’s Cleanse from Bon Appetit. I’m now on Day 11 out of 14, and have gotten more flexible with my interpretation of the meal plan as time has gone by. Even so, I’ve been making better decisions, I’ve successfully cut back on my coffee intake, and I’ve felt generally more healthy.

Here are some of the highlights of the past week of my “cleanse”.

Day 4

Yogurt Chicken, Carrots, and Bulgur

Yogurt Chicken, Carrots, and Bulgur

For dinner last Wednesday, I made yogurt chicken with ginger-cilantro chutney and carrots with mint (both recipes on Day 3 on cleanse plan), and served them up with the last of my bulgur with parsley and lemon. The chicken was moist and full of flavor. I’ll definitely make it again!

Day 5

Thursday was a series of leftovers and repeat dishes, most of which were enjoyed whilst sitting at work.

Day 6

Applesauce with Walnuts

Applesauce with Walnuts

Friday, my afternoon snack of applesauce with walnuts was surprisingly enjoyable! I want to make my own applesauce, and make this a more frequent treat!

Chili and Salad

Chili and Salad

For dinner, I made white bean chili with winter vegetables (recipe from Day 5 on cleanse) and a spinach salad with clementines. I loved the avocado on top of the chili. It was a fresh and creamy addition to the complex flavors of the chili.

Day 7

Kale Salad

Kale Salad

I had a long shift on Saturday, so I packed up a fruit salad and almond milk for breakfast and a big salad with kale, smoked salmon, tangerines, and radishes for lunch. I took a break from the plan that evening, and went out for a drink and dinner with one of my girlfriends.

Day 8

Blackberry Oatmeal

Blackberry Oatmeal

Sunday’s breakfast was a new twist on my usual bowl of oats. I cooked the oats in almond milk (nothing unusual), mixed in some berries while the oats were still cooking, and topped it off with fresh berries and a bit of chopped sage. The sage added an extra oomph to an otherwise basic bowl.

Mango Lassi

Mango Lassi

Afternoon smoothies are definitely going to become a more regular thing for me! Sunday I made a mango lassi with one mango, some Greek yogurt, a pinch of chile powder, and a dash of salt.

Radicchio Salad

Radicchio Salad

I used up all of my leftover produce from the week in a giant dinner salad! Radicchio, pear, avocado, and dried cranberries were mixed in with sherry shallot vinaigrette and white beans. Yum!

Day 9

Chickpea Salad

Chickpea Salad

Monday was another crazy workday, so I packed up smoked salmon and avocado on rye crackers, an apple, and a big salad with chickpeas, arugula, clementine slices, tahini dressing, and a leftover dollop of ginger-cilantro chutney.

Day 10

Oatmeal with Berries

Oatmeal with Berries

I’ve enjoyed mixing up my breakfast routine, but I still always enjoy a nice bowl of oats in the morning! I kept the berry theme going with a smoothie later in the day, made with apple cider, half a banana, and frozen raspberries and blackberries.

Berry Smoothie

Berry Smoothie

For lunch on the run, I had another “clean the icebox” type of salad, using pineapple, smoked salmon, arugula, tahini dressing, and the last bit of ginger-cilantro chutney.

Salmon and Pineapple Salad

Salmon and Pineapple Salad

Dinner, vegetable pot-au-feu and soft thyme-scented polenta, was listed on Day 11 of the cleanse. I am realizing how much I LOVE parsnips and carrots. I could eat them every day! I’m looking forward to the leftovers.

Vegetable Pot-Au-Feu

Vegetable Pot-Au-Feu

I love how many fruits and vegetables I’ve been eating! I intend to keep this trend going once my 14 days are up. Even though I haven’t followed the full cleanse, I feel as though I’ve cleaned up my act.

Thanks, Jenn for hosting this “What I Ate Wednesday” party!

WIAW GOES GREEN

Happy eating!

-C

WIAW — A Modified Food Lover’s Cleanse

Late in December, I received an email from Bon Appetit about a New Year’s Foodie Cleanse.  I bookmarked the details, but was unable to do the “cleanse” at the time.  Lately, I have not been listening to what my body needs, and instead have made unintelligent and unhealthy food decisions.  I decided to jump-start my return to conscious eating by doing a modified Food Lover’s Cleanse.  Based on my schedule, tastes, and single status, I have edited the meal plan.

I started on Sunday, and have enjoyed it so far! For today’s WIAW Party, hosted by Jenn, I’ll be showing you my meals from the first three days of the plan.

WIAW GOES GREEN

Day 1: Sunday

Oatmeal and tea

Oatmeal and tea

Sunday morning I topped a bowl of oatmeal with half a banana, berries, and chopped walnuts.  I’m cutting back to just 1 cup of coffee while on the cleanse, so I paired my oatmeal with a cup of tea.

I indulged in my one cup of coffee for the day before heading into the grocery store.  Limiting my coffee intake makes me savor it so much more!

Kale Salad

Kale Salad

For lunch, I had a kale salad with tuna, white beans, and homemade sherry vinaigrette.

Apple-Blackberry Smoothie

Apple-Blackberry Smoothie

I had an apple-blackberry smoothie, modified to use soy yogurt instead of normal Greek yogurt, as an afternoon snack.  Yum!

Butternut Squash-Shiitake Ragout with Bulgur

Butternut Squash-Shiitake Ragout with Bulgur

Dinner the first night was delicious!  I made butternut squash-shiitake ragout and bulgur with parsley and lemon zest.  I ended the night with a dessert of fresh fruit.

Day 2: Monday

Raspberry Muesli

Raspberry Muesli

I had an early morning shift Monday, so I packed up breakfast and lunch the night before.  Breakfast was a tasty bowl of muesli, made with oats, raspberries, half an apple, soy yogurt, fresh squeezed orange juice, and walnuts.

Spinach salad

Spinach salad

Lunch was a spinach salad with lemon tahini dressing, topped with a hard boiled egg and some leftover grains.  I love the lemon tahini dressing!

Leftovers

Leftovers

For dinner, I had a bowl of leftover ragout and bulgur.  It was just as tasty the second time around.  I enjoyed another dessert of fresh fruit before hitting the hay.

Day 3: Tuesday

Smoked Salmon and Avocado

Smoked Salmon and Avocado

I normally go for sweet breakfasts, rather than savory, so I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the breakfast for day 3!  Mashed avocado and smoked salmon atop rye crackers made a very tasty meal.

I snacked on a hard boiled egg before a noon ballet class.  Hard boiled eggs are another simple food that I often forget, but always enjoy!

Butter lettuce salad with ragout and radishes

Butter lettuce salad with ragout and radishes

I opted to combine the butternut squash ragout and butter lettuce salad in one big bowl, rather than serving them side by side.  Topped with sliced radishes and lemon tahini dressing, this salad was filling and full of flavor.

I “cheated” on the cleanse for dinner, and instead went out with a friend to discuss her wedding plans!  I’m thinking of this cleanse as the start to some permanent changes in my diet and lifestyle, so I am not being too rigid with the rules.  I am eating mindfully, avoiding processed carbohydrates, cutting back on sugar, and decreasing my alcohol and caffeine intake.  That sounds pretty clean to me!

Happy eating!

-C