Category Archives: Grains

Baked Polenta with Garlicky Mushrooms and Delicata Squash

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Welcome to another Food Matters Monday!  This dish is a spin on Mark Bittman’s Polenta with Garlicky Mushrooms.  The recipe this week was chosen by Sandra at Meadows Cooks.  She made her polenta cakes in the shape of hearts–adorable!  I made mine without any wine (subbed Sherry Vinegar) and added some roasted delicata squash for a heartier dish.  I also made this dish a second time, adding heavy whipping cream and a little cream cheese to the mushrooms.  And while it wasn’t nearly as healthy, boy was it good!

Polenta is such a versatile food–if you haven’t made it before, I highly recommending giving it a try.  It tastes good topped with any number of foods.  You can do a cream sauce, a marinara with cheese and veggies or meat, a nice eggplant sauce, a chickpea curry, pesto…the possibilities go on and on!  Polenta is basically just cornmeal cooked up, pressed into a pan and chilled, and then cut into shapes and pan-fried or baked.  Let me know if you end up making this dish or a variation–I would love to hear from you!

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Polenta Cakes with Garlicky Mushrooms and Delicata Squash;

Makes: 4 to 8 servings;  Time: 3 hours, mostly unattended

  • 1 cup coarse cornmeal
  • Salt
  • ½ cup 2% milk (or use water)
  • Black Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 pound mushrooms, preferably an assortment, sliced (I used baby bella mushrooms this time)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/8 cup Sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic, or more to taste
  • 1 delicata squash, seeded and sliced
  1. Put the cornmeal and a large pinch of salt in a medium saucepan; slowly whisk in 2 and ½ cups water and the milk to make a lump-free slurry. Set the pot over medium-high heat and bring almost to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and bubble gently, whisking frequently, until thick, 10 to 15 minutes. If the mixture becomes too thick, whisk in a bit more water; you want the consistency to be like thick oatmeal. Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary and plenty of black pepper.
  2. Grease a large baking sheet with some of the oil while the polenta is still hot, pour it onto the sheet and use a spatula to spread it out evenly at least ½ inch thick. Brush the top lightly with oil, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate the polenta until it sets up, about 2 hours (or up to a day).
  3. Heat the oven to 400°F.  Lightly spray or drizzle a baking pan with olive oil and lay squash onto the baking sheet, taking care not to overlap. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper and roast, about 20-30 minutes, flipping each piece halfway through.
  4. Lower the heat in the oven to 375°F. Grease a clean large baking sheet with some of the oil. When the polenta is set, cut it into at least 12 squares or diamonds or use a round cookie cutter to make disks. Put the cakes on the baking sheet, brush with a bit more oil, and bake until they are warmed through and the edges begin to brown (the outside should be nice and toasted while the inside should stay soft), 20 to 30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, put the 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the mushrooms and thyme and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender and dried out a bit, about 10 minutes. Add the Sherry Vinegar and let it bubble away for a couple of minutes; turn the heat to medium-low and add the garlic.  Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve a spoonful of mushrooms and a few pieces of squash on top of each polenta cake.  I served mine on a bed of mizuna–love mizuna!

Sweet and Sticky Green Bean Stir Fry With Everidae Sauce

Sweet and Sticky Green Bean Stir Fry

I work from home.  For those of you who work from home you might understand that this means I work from home A LOT.  At all hours.  And it can be taxing.  (If you work from home and don’t work A LOT I want to know your secret!)  But…there are also some perks.  For instance, I get to eat a homecooked lunch every single day.  And what could be better than that?  Most of the time my lunches are super-quick veggie and grain concoctions, eaten in front of the computer while I sift through emails.  But sometimes, I like to treat myself and step outside of my zucchini-onion-soy-fish sauce routine.  This dish is super-quick.  It’s just a simple veggie dish.  But it feels special, like I’m at a nice asian restaurant for lunch.  This dish deserves my attention.  It deserves for the computer to be silenced, deserves a linen napkin, and deserves to be enjoyed slowly with chopsticks.  I prefer this served with a cup of miso soup but it certainly doesn’t need anything on the side.  I also like to serve my green bean stir fry on top of my special grain blend.

My rice blen

To make my grain blend, put 1 cup brown rice in a dutch oven and cover with water by 1 inch.  Cover and bring to a boil then turn heat to low and let simmer for 25 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup farro, 1/2 cup millet, 1/2 cup black and/or white quinoa, and 1/4 cup radish seeds (you can use any of these, some of these, or just make the brown rice plain–whatever works for you!).  Add more water if needed so the water level is about 1/2 inch above the grains after adding all grains.  Cook another 15-20 minutes covered on low heat.  Turn off and let sit for 10 minutes before fluffing.  The radish seeds are my favorite part.  they pop in your mouth and are so fun to eat!  This makes quite a bit of grain blend so once it is completely cooled I spoon the leftovers into quart-sized freezer bags, flatten, and freeze for future lunches or dinners.  Makes things so much easier when I’m wondering what to make for a meal and don’t want to spend 45 minutes cooking rice!

I decided to add carrots to my stir fry today.  Other days I do mushrooms.  Other days just green beans and onions (always onions–love onions!).  My little dog loves eating carrots for a snack so she loves it when I make this dish because she nibbles on the raw carrot ends.  Today I shaved the carrots.  Other times I julienne or simply slice thinly into rounds or on the bias.  I think you are getting my drift.  Whatever floats your boat with these stir fries!

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One thing I always do is shock the green beans.  You want them to stay pretty and bright green in the stir fry.  The best way to do this is to plunge them in cold water after blanching them.  These are my green beans after shocking:

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One more thing.  I’ve been using a sauce lately called Everidae Sauce.  You don’t need it for this recipe–this recipe is great with just some soy sauce, honey, and crushed red pepper.  But if you want to try something really tasty, you can get it on Amazon if you aren’t local to Grand Rapids.  It’s produced by Grand Rapids own Dominic Sorenson at an incubator kitchen called Uptown Kitchen.  This sauce makes so many things tastier!  Just a tablespoon or two added to my plain ol’ veggie and rice routine really takes the dish somewhere.  I love habanero and love spicy but even if you don’t, there is a mild version of the sauce to flavor a dish without adding too much heat.  From the Scoville Farms Everidae Sauce Website:  “Dominic created the sauce to fill the need for a more versatile Habanero sauce, less spicy than traditional sauces with a flavor that wouldn’t overwhelm the subtle flavors of his favorite dishes. Dominic puts his extensive food industry experience to work when personally making each batch. Working in small batches, he prepares each ingredient by hand, cooks, cans and labels each jar of sauce before hand delivering to local specialty stores and markets.  Each of the three versions of Everidae Sauce (Mild, Medium, Hot) are made with fresh Carrots, Sweet Onions, All Natural Garlic, Whole Orange Habaneros, Cider Vinegar, White Sugar, Salt and Natural Fruit Pectin.”  Yum!

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Okay, without further ado, the recipe!

Sweet and Sticky Soy-Garlic-Honey Stir Fry With Everidae Sauce

  • Salt
  • 1 pound green beans
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 carrots, shaved into ribbons
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Scoville Farms Everidae Sauce (optional)
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it.  Add the green beans and cook about 2 minutes.  Don’t overcook or they will become soft and won’t maintain their vibrant color.  Submerge the green beans in a bowl of ice water to stop them from continuing to cook.
  2. Put olive oil in a large, heavy skillet or wok.  Cook the onions over medium heat for about 2 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  3. Toss the green beans and carrot ribbons into the pan and turn it up to high.  Let brown, stirring often, for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the soy sauce, honey, and Scoville Everidae sauce and toss to combine with the vegetables.  Cook for another minute until the sauce thickens and gets a little sticky.
  5. Serve on brown rice or a blend of grains.

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“Hippie Rice” With Beet Greens, Currants, and Seeds

Hippie Rice:  With Beet Greens, Currants, Sunflower Seeds, and Orange Zest

Welcome to my first post of 2013!  It’s been a busy, busy (yet wonderful) few weeks but as much as I hate to admit it I’m kind of happy to be getting back into my old routines.  I am even somewhat relieved that the holidays have passed and I can look forward to catching up on my “honey do list” including actually organizing my office closet, sewing the linen pillow covers that have been cut and ready for the machine for months, organizing the photo folders on my computer, and other riveting grown-up extra-curriculars (when I feel as good now when my house is clean as I did when I was a kid and I got an elephant ear at the fair, I wonder if I grew up and somehow found myself in some twisted opposite-world).

This post is also the first Food Matters Project post for 2013.  This week, Gracie chose the recipe, “Hippie Rice,” and how fitting it is considering all of the “diets” I’m sure we are thinking about or actually following through on.  It is a good reminder from Bittman that “we are what we eat” and that feeling better (emotionally and physically) and looking better starts with eating better.

My goal this year is to eat mindfully.  I do a good job of eating well:  eating whole foods and following a mostly plant based diet.  But I have my hangups with some junk foods and tend to overeat, especially when I am not being mindful about my eating.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened a bag of pistachios or popcorn in the car and when I got home realized that half the bag was gone and my car was a mess (followed soon thereafter by a declaration that “there will be no more popcorn/pistachios/other messy snacky foods eaten in this car from this point to as long as we both shall live and into eternity!”).  I can get carried away when I’m distracted.  So my goal is to eat mindfully, to take my time, to try (I said try, okay?) not to eat in front of my computer, to savor each bite and taste the flavors, to eat more deliberately.

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Let’s start with this dish.  I used Bittman’s recipe as the starting off point (see Gracie’s blog for the full recipe) but diverged quite a bit based on what I had on hand and what I was in the mood for.  My version has interesting flavors, textures, and colors…a perfect dish to enjoy mindfully.  Beet greens add color and powerful health benefits.  Currants add a hint of sweetness flavor without overpowering.  Sunflower and pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds) add crunch and depth.  A little bit of heat comes in from the crushed red pepper.  And orange zest adds a bright pop to finish it off.

This recipe can be modified in any-which-way-you-choose.  So don’t get hung up on the exacts.  I used my standard grain blend, a mix of brown rice, quinoa, farro, and radish seed, which I had cooked ahead of time and frozen, making this recipe very quick and easy!

My rice blen

Next, I lightly steamed shredded beet greens.  The next time you buy a bunch of beets with the greens still attached, don’t throw them away!  They cook up much like swiss chard but I like the flavor even better.  Beet greens are also an excellent source of vitamin K and vitamin A, making this a vision-boosting, cancer-fighting superfood.

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Next I sauteed some onion in a little olive oil, adding the seeds to toast for the last five minutes.  I squeezed the juice of an orange into the pan and added about 1 tsp of zest.

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Then I tossed all of the other ingredients into the pan (grain blend, beet greens, currants, red pepper flakes, salt), sprinkled it with a little patchoulie (just kidding), and voila, a bowl of righteous grains and veggies was born.

“Hippie Rice” with Beet Greens, Currants, Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds, and Orange Zest; makes 4 servings; takes 45 minutes (with pre-cooked grains will take 20 minutes)

  • 1 bunch beet greens, shredded
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup sunflower and/or raw pumpkin seeds (or a blend)
  • 2 cups grain blend (anything you want but I make brown rice, farro, quinoa, and radish seeds in a pot ahead of time and freeze in quart-sized plastic bags)
  • Salt
  • 1/3 cup currants
  • 1/2 tsp red chile flakes
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • juice of 1 small orange
  1. Put beet greens in a saucepan with 1/2 inch of water on the bottom.  Bring to a boil then simmer, steaming lightly for about 5 minutes.
  2. Put the onion in a heavy skillet and saute until lightly browned.  Add sunflower and pumpkin seeds and saute until they are lightly toasted.
  3. Add beet greens, grain blend, currants, red chile flakes, orange zest and orange juice to the pan and stir to heat through.  Enjoy!

Vegan Baked Oatmeal with Apricots, Walnuts, and Blueberries

I hope this day after Christmas finds everyone well.  For me, this cold and peaceful winter morning involved staying in bed late, drinking tea, and best of all, enjoying baked oatmeal.

Baked Oatmeal with Walnuts, Apricots, and Blueberries

I am a bona fide oatmeal lover.  I never ever thought I would be such a goody-two-shoes that I would eat oatmeal every morning.  But somehow this routine has a solid foothold now.  I have rolled oats, steel-cut oats, quick-cooking steel-cut oats, quick oats and oat bran on hand at all times.  When I travel for work, I have BetterOats packets on hand for snacking and mornings in the hotel.  So when I came across baked oatmeal after hearing people rave about it, I had to try it.  I had noticed a recipe in Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Everyday and went at it.

We have been trying our hand at baked oatmeal recipes over the last week and I can’t get enough of it.  Next week I’m throwing a brunch for my lovely former roommate and her out-of-town guests the day after her wedding.  Being that some guests are vegan, I tried my hand at making a vegan version of baked oatmeal, launching off from Heidi Swanson’s baked oatmeal recipe from Super Natural Every Day.  Her version includes eggs, butter, and milk (and her version is delicious, I can attest) but with a few tweaks, everyone can enjoy the miracle of baked oatmeal.  I replace the milk with non-dairy almond milk (you can use soy if you prefer but I prefer the lighter taste of almond milk), the butter is replaced with oil, and the egg is replaced with a half of a mashed banana.  If you like oatmeal you will love this version, which is like a mildly sweet dessert for breakfast.  Without the guilt.  And having tried a dairy version and my vegan version, I can honestly say I liked the vegan version even better.

Baked Oatmeal in Dish

Vegan Baked Oatmeal with Apricots and Blueberries; adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Everyday

Serves 6 for Breakfast

  • 2 cups of rolled oats (use ‘old fashioned’ oats, not ‘quick’ oats)
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces, toasted and chopped
  • 1/3 cup natural cane sugar or maple syrup, plus more for serving
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Scant 1/2 tsp fine-grain sea salt
  • 2 cups almond milk, soy milk, or other non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 banana, mashed
  • 2 Tbsp canola or coconut oil (melted if hard)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 ripe bananas, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries (frozen or fresh)
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, cut into thin strips
  • Raspberries, to serve (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375° with a rack in the top third of the oven.  Oil the inside of an 8 inch square baking dish.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the oats, half the walnuts, the sugar, if using, the baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, if using, the non-dairy milk, 1/2 mashed banana, the oil, and the vanilla.
  4. Arrange the banana slices in a single layer in the bottom of the prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle two-thirds of the berries over the top.  Cover the fruit with the oat mixture.  Slowly drizzle the non-dairy milk mixture over the oats.  Gently give the baking dish a couple thwacks on the countertop to make sure the milk moves through the oats.  Scatter the remaining berries and remaining walnuts across the top.
  5. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the top is nicely golden and the oat mixture has set.  Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes.   Cut into squares and serve in bowls.  Drizzle with maple syrup and pool some almond or soy milk on the bottom.  Serve with a few raspberries if you have ’em.

Autumn Wheat Berry Salad With Roasted Vegetables

I would be hard pressed to find ten things I like about November weather.  But if you asked my favorite thing about November weather, it would be root vegetables.  I was just thinking how I am now at the opposite end of the spectrum from this post when it was 95 degrees in my house and the last thing I wanted to do was turn on the oven.  Well, it’s November in Michigan so I am loving turning on my oven any chance I get and roasting veggies or whipping up a big pot of warming root vegetable stew.

This week’s Food Matters Project recipe, chosen by Camilla, was Wheat Berries with Braised Beef and Parsnips.  Being that about 95% or more of my meals are vegetarian I decided to go a veggie route with my version, instead opting for one of my go-to salads.  I typically make this salad with farro because it is quick and I enjoy the texture, but because wheat berries were the foundation of this week’s FMP recipe I started there.

I roasted onion, beets, carrots, leeks, and butternut squash, all from my brother’s wonderful organic farm (I’ll need to create a post just to tell you all about my weekend at home on my brother’s farm and at the Marquette Farmer’s Market).  The wheat berries were cooked in vegetable broth and tossed with the vegetables.  Then comes the fun part..adding whatever else you think will taste good!  I like to add some crumbled feta to cut through the sweet tastes in the salad.  This time I also added some pepitas, some arugula, a random heart of palm I had in the fridge, and a drizzle of honey-mustard vinaigrette.  Perfect for my cold November day.

For the recipe for wheat berries with braised beef and parsnips, head over to Camilla’s blog, Culinary Adventures With Cam.  For everyone else’s take, check out our Pinterest Board!

Autumn Wheat Berry Salad With Roasted Vegetables

  • 1 cup dried wheat berries
  • 2 cups water or vegetable broth/stock
  • 2 cups vegetables such as beets, carrots, winter squash, onions, brussels sprouts, potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc.  I used leeks, beets, carrots, red onion, and butternut squash.
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 Tbsp feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp pepitas (optional)
  • 1 cup arugula (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons honey mustard vinaigrette (below)
  • Anything else you think would taste yummy in this salad

Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Fine sea salt
  1. Put the wheat berries and water or broth/stock into a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Turn down to low heat and simmer for 1 hour until soft.
  2. Meanwhile, turn your oven to 350° and start chopping your vegetables.  Whatever vegetables you choose, be sure to cut them into relatively uniform shapes, I chopped mine into about 1/2 inch cubes.  Place all veggies in a large bowl when done and drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and toss.  Pour veggies onto sheet pans and cover with tin foil.  Bake for about 20-25 minutes and check for softness. When soft but not mushy, remove foil and turn oven to 450° for about 5-10 minutes to crisp the veggies slightly.  Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Mix vegetables, wheat berries, arugula, cheese, pepitas, and vinaigrette in a large bowl.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  I highly recommend wearing a cozy sweater and leaving the oven door open (now that the oven is shut off).  Stand in front of the oven warmth and enjoy!

Chickpea and Bitter Greens Curry with Quinoa

This week I was in the Mohave Desert in CA and in Baton Rouge, LA for work. I don’t know about everyone else…but when I travel I end up eating.  A lot.  And not healthy foods.  I sure try…I pack instant oatmeal packets (not the gluey stuff–the good stuff brought to you by the folks at Better Oats), granola bars, and nuts.  I buy bananas to get me through the day.  But I always end up getting so hungry by the end of the day that I stuff my face at dinner.  Ugh.  Anyway, this meal was what I was craving when I came home from my trip this week…a perfect way to get back on track.  Quick and easy, flavor-packed, and so pretty I could cry.

Chickpea and Greens Curry with Black and White Quinoa

  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1 and 1/2 cups canned or (cooked dried chickpeas), drained and rinsed
  • Sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 4 cups bitter greens (I used kale and lambs quarters), cut into 1/2 inch ribbons
  • 1/4 cup chopped herbs (cilantro works great if you have it)
  • 3 cups cooked quinoa (I used 2/3 white and 1/3 black)
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
  1. In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup of water and tumeric to a boil.  Add chickpeas and a pinch of salt and simmer for 5 minutes.  Tuen off heat and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook onion, stirring until softened, about 4 minutes.  Add pepper, garlic, cumin, coriander, and ginger and cook, stirring, about 5 minutes more.  Stir in all the greens and chicpea mixture and cook until greens are just wilted.  Season with salt.  Remove from heat and mix in chopped herbs.
  3. Divide quinoa among four bowls and top with vegetable curry and toasted seeds.

Black Rice Salad with Mango and Peanuts

Raise your hands–who knew about black rice?  I sure didn’t until trying this salad.  Okay, that’s not entirely true because I bought this black rice about 3 months ago and it has sat in my pantry.  I’m sure it was thinking that I obviously had no idea how good it was, snickering as I passed it over for brown rice time and again.  What foolishness!  What ignorance!  I just tried black rice for the first time and it was such a pleasant surprise–I am hooked.  Dear black rice, I’m so sorry I underestimated your awesomeness.  Now it is time to SHINE!

As if I needed to sell this grain any more…did you know that this beautiful rice has anti-inflammatory properties, a higher antioxidant level than blueberries, and loads of fiber?  Check out all of the amazing properties of black rice here.

Black Rice Salad with Mango and Peanuts; adapted from Bon Appetit June 2012

Serves 6-8 as a side

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup(or more) fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam; optional)
  • 2 cups black rice
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 just-ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup finely chopped red onion (about 1/2 large onion)
  • ½ cup unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts
  • 6 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded, minced

Preparation

  1. Add 1/4 cup lime juice, 3 tablespoons orange juice, oil, and fish sauce (if using) to bowl; whisk to blend. Set dressing aside.
  2. Bring rice and 2 3/4 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Season lightly with salt. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until all liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 25 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let stand, covered, for 15 minutes. Spread out rice on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with dressing, and season lightly with salt; let cool.
  3. Place mangoes and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add rice and toss gently to combine. Season lightly with salt and more lime juice, if desired.