SUNFLOWER SEED “RISOTTO” WITH EDAMAME

It is not often that a recipe blows my mind and I get so excited about it I can hardly wait to share here… This is not rice-based. There is no rice at all. The whole concoction is made with sunflower seeds, soaked for several hours. It is absolutely delicious, hearty but considerably lower in carbs. The starting point for my version was a recipe from Naturally Nourished, by Sarah Britton. I was not sure the husband was going to like it that much, but he thought it was one of the tastiest side dishes I’ve made in the recent past. So there you go!

SUNFLOWER SEED “RISOTTO” WITH EDAMAME
(inspired by Naturally Nourished)

2 cups raw, unsalted, shelled sunflower seeds
1 tsp salt, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 fennel bulb, diced small
2 cups vegetable stock (you won’t need the full amount)
frozen edamame, about 1/2 cup or amount to taste

Soak the sunflower seeds overnight or all day with the sea salt in a large bowl of water. Drain and rinse the sunflower seeds.

In a high-power blender (I used a Vitamix), add 1/2 cup of soaked seeds and half a cup of water. Blend util fully smooth, remove and set aside.

In a non-stick skillet or small stockpot, heat the oil, add the fennel, season with salt and pepper. After about 2 minutes, add the soaked and drained whole sunflower seeds, stir to coat with the oil, then add vegetable stock to completely cover the seeds. It will depend on the size of your pan, but you will probably need less than 2 cups. Add a little salt and pepper if so desired.

Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of the reserved sunflower seed cream, stir, then add frozen edamame, spread all over the surface, and cover the pan again. Cook gently for 5 minutes, then check that the seeds are tender and the edamame warm. If needed, add more vegetable stock, or alternatively remove the lid and let the excess liquid evaporate.

Serve the “risotto” right away.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I fell in love with this dish at first bite… The cream of seeds made in the Vitamix has a strong taste, and gives the grain a luscious texture without the need for butter. You won’t use all, but it is hard to make less in the Vitamix. I am saving the leftover for next time, because it will happen again very soon… You can add different veggies, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, whatever you feel like, adjusting the timing or cooking the veggies before incorporating in the “risotto.” Sometimes it is hard to find raw sunflower seeds, but when we have them available in our grocery store, we buy several packages. Now that this dish will be part of our regular rotation, I cannot afford to run out of them!

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KAMUT AND BROCCOLI SALAD

If I am going to have a salad, my preference is a salad with substance, and a variety of textures and colors. No need to go all the way into a Chicken Caesar or a Steak Salad, but the addition of grains is more than welcome. I used quick-cooking kamut, but any type will work, just pay attention to the timing. Also, any other will be fine: barley, cracked wheat, or the beautiful farro.

KAMUT & BROCCOLI SALAD
(adapted from many sources)

1 cup cooked kamut, or amount to taste
2 broccoli heads, or amount to taste
1/2 cup roasted, salted cashews
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 apple, cut in pieces (I used Pink Lady)
1/4 cup olive oil
juice and zest of 1 lemon
grated ginger to taste
salt and pepper to taste

The kamut can be prepared a day in advance if you like. Make sure it is cold when you make the salad. If you make it in advance, drizzle just a touch of olive oil to prevent the grains from sticking together. Separate the broccoli into florets and steam them for 3 minutes. Immediately run very cold water to stop the cooking. Cut the steamed broccoli into pieces. Reserve.

Make the dressing by whisking the olive oil with lemon juice, add ginger, salt and pepper.

In a large serving bowl, add all the ingredients for the salad, pour the dressing and mix gently. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Allow the salad to sit for 30 minutes before serving, if possible.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The main inspiration for this recipe came from a cookbook I own, but that version served the broccoli raw and passed by the food processor. The pieces of raw broccoli were very small and lost in the middle of the grain, all acquiring the same green color. The way I chose to make it, was barely steaming the broccoli. This simple step tames its raw sharpness. Next, I cut the pieces with a knife, in small chunks. In my opinion, this makes the final product much more appealing not only visually, but as far as texture goes.

The apples and raisins are a must, and the cashews give that extra crunchiness that will leave you smiling… peanuts, walnuts, or pecans, can be used instead.

The added bonus of this salad: it holds quite well in the fridge. I made such a big portion that in fact it lasted two days, and on the second day I decided to warm it in the microwave for a minute. Perfect! A light lunch that needed absolutely nothing else to go with it.

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RED QUINOA “TABBOULEH”

Another great recipe that the editors of the New York Times raved about. I ate leftovers for two days, with a slightly bigger smile on the last time. It gets better and better. I adore colorful food. And clothes. And earrings.

RED QUINOA “TABBOULEH”
(slightly modified from The New York Times)

1 cup red quinoa (or a mixture of colors)
3 cups wate
Salt to taste
½ cup fresh lemon juice½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
¼ cup finely chopped fresh mint
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup finely diced cucumber
1 pound ripe tomatoes, cut in small dice

Rinse the quinoa thoroughly, and combine with the water and salt to taste in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer 15 to 20 minutes until the quinoa displays a little white spiral. Drain through a strainer, tap to remove excess water, then return the quinoa to the pot. Place a dish towel over the top of the pot, and return the lid. Let sit for 15 minutes. This gives the quinoa a perfect texture.

Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl. Mix together the lemon juice, salt to taste and cumin, and toss half of it with the quinoa. Allow the quinoa to cool. Combine the remaining lemon juice and olive oil, and toss with the cooled quinoa. Add the remaining ingredients, and toss together. Taste and adjust seasoning.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: We enjoyed it with grilled chicken breasts, for a very simple but delicious dinner. It became my lunch for the following two days, on the second time I added a sunny-side egg on top. Heaven. I hope purists will forgive the tabbouleh label in the recipe, but I was not the one who started. The New York Times was the first sinner. I just went along with it, but added the quotation marks to protect my reputation as a food blogger. At any rate, tabbouleh or not, make this recipe. It is super refreshing and satisfying.

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ROASTED CARROT AND BARLEY SALAD

Another recipe that was highly recommended by editors of the food section in The New York Times. We will be paying close attention to those reviews from now on, because so far everything we’ve tried has been a total winner. I made a few modifications to adapt to our taste, so I share my version with you. Barley is definitely under-appreciated.

ROASTED CARROT AND BARLEY SALAD
(adapted from The New York Times)

1 cup pearled barley
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 pounds carrots, washed, trimmed and cut into long pieces
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
zest of 1 lemon
2 cups arugula
A handful of cilantro
¼ cup toasted sliced almonds

for the spiced tahini:
¼ cup tahini
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon Ras-el-hanout
water to adjust consistency

Heat oven to 425 degrees and place a rack on the lowest shelf. In a medium saucepan, combine barley with 4 cups water; season with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Drain excess water if still some remains.

Meanwhile, place the carrots on a sheet pan, drizzle with the olive oil and toss to coat, spreading into an even layer. Season with salt and pepper. Place on the bottom oven rack and roast until tender and starting to turn golden, about 25 minutes.

While the carrots roast, make the dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, Ras-el-hanout, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it is smooth and has a pourable consistency.

When the carrots are ready, remove them from the oven, drizzle with honey and sprinkle with lemon zest. Season with a pinch of salt and toss to coat.

In a serving bowl, combine the carrots with the barley, arugula and parsley. Drizzle with the spiced tahini and sprinkle with almonds. Try not to over-eat…

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This was one of the best side dishes of the year of 2021 that showed up at our table. I do have a very special place in my heart for tahini, so maybe that explains my love for this recipe. You can cook the barley and roast the carrots in advance. In that case, just warm the carrots briefly in the microwave – I mean for 20 seconds tops – because it’s nice to have the contrast of warm carrots with the cold salad. If you are not too fond of arugula, spinach will work too, but there’s something about the slightly bitter nature of arugula that works well here.

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INCREDIBLY SIMPLE POBLANO TAHDIG

With this post I will upset a lot of people. First, by mixing a classic Middle Eastern recipe with a Mexican component. And second, by making it a much quicker version than the authentic. However, since I first made this version back in 2019, I never stopped. It is by far the most requested side dish by the resident food critic, and I adore it too. My only problem lies with that portion control thing. I tend to over-eat because it’s just too good. The basic method is the same, and to be honest I don’t even measure anything now, because it always works. This version rocked our little world.

POBLANO TAHDIG
(from The Bewitching Kitchen)

1 cup rice
3 cups lightly salted water
1 Poblano pepper, roasted with a touch of olive oil until soft
1/3 cup full-fat yogurt
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp chipotle pepper (or other pepper of your choice)
drizzle of olive oil

Mix the yogurt with the poblano pepper, salt and chipotle pepper. Process with a mini-food processor until smooth. Reserve.

Cook the rice for 12 minutes in salted boiling water and immediately drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking. Rice and yogurt mixture can sit separately for a couple of hours before continuing.

Mix the rice with the yogurt. Heat a 10-inch non-stick skillet and add olive oil, swirling around the whole surface. When the oil starts to get hot, add the rice-yogurt mixture and spread it all over the pan, smoothing the surface with a silicon spoon. Cover the rice with a paper towel moistened with water, then place a lid. Don’t worry if the lid is not totally tight.

Place on a low-burner for exactly 30 minutes. At the end of 30 minutes check to see if the bottom is golden, if not, increase the heat lightly and remove the lid. Leave it for a minute or two, should be enough to make a nice crust at the bottom. Carefully place a platter on top and invert the rice on it. Cut in wedges to serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The above picture shows what was left once we finished our dinner. We could have inhaled it all, but I decided to consider my lunch next day. If you are a rice lover, please try this method. And now that we loved the poblano version so much, I have plenty of other variations to try. The only thing to keep in mind is under-cooking the rice in the beginning, and choosing a skillet that is right for the amount of rice you have. For 1 cup dry rice, the 10-inch skillet is perfect. Thirty minutes on low-heat. DONE.

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