ROAST VEGGIES WITH BLACK BARLEY

Black sesame, black barley…  What can I say? Love them both, although black barley is not always available in our stores. Online I see what seems to be the exact same product described as “purple barley” and pretty expensive by comparison to the product I find here at Hy-Vee. I love the way it looks and it seems to be slightly more chewy and perhaps a bit more bitter than regular barley. In this recipe, I paired it with my current favorite way to roast all kinds of veggies.  It all started with carrots

ROAST BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND CAULIFLOWER WITH BLACK BARLEY
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

(use enough veggies to cover a baking sheet in a single layer)
Butternut squash, cut in 1 inch pieces
Cauliflower florets sliced to have a flat side
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp rose harissa
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
lemon juice to taste
1 cup barley

Heat oven to 425F.

In a large bowl, mix together the olive oil, harissa, paprika, pomegranate molasses and salt.  Add the veggies to the bowl and toss well to combine. Spread on a baking sheet, add a tablespoon or two of water, cover with foil and roast for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and roast for 10 to 15 minutes longer, until nicely golden brown.

Meanwhile cook the barley. Fill a large saucepan with lightly salted water, when it comes to a boil drop the barley and cook gently until soft. It should take between 30 and 40 minutes. I prefer to retain some texture. Drain it, coat lightly with olive oil and reserve.

Remove the veggies from the oven, add some lemon juice and serve over the cooked barley. Adjust seasoning if needed.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I love this type of recipe, it “almost” makes me feel that becoming a vegetarian would be possible. Almost is the key word, though. I rather embrace my omnivore nature. Leftovers? You know I always cook dinner with leftovers in mind, and more often than not I pair them with another favorite food item of mine.

Lunch is served!

ONE YEAR AGO: Creamy Chicken Thighs with Sun-dried Tomatoes


TEN YEARS AGO:
 Magical Lamb Stew

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH WITH CASHEW NUTS

Recipes for roasted veggies are always so similar, coat veggies with olive oil, season any way you particularly like, roast. Done. But this one has a little unexpected (to me) twist. Instead of olive oil, you’ll use butter. I know, so out of fashion, so frowned upon by the Health Police. This method was featured on a recent America’s Test Kitchen TV show, and I was obviously intrigued. I modified it a bit to our taste. The butter helps that gorgeous browning and adds a nutty flavor that goes well with the cashews.  It all works beautifully.

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH WITH CASHEW NUTS
(inspired by America’s Test Kitchen)

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut in slices (about 2 pounds)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground paprika
for cashew topping:
1 tablespoons butter
⅓ cup cashew nuts
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Toss squash slices with melted butter, season with  salt and paprika until evenly coated. Arrange seasoned slices on a rimmed baking sheet, if possible in a single layer, but some overlapping is ok. Roast for about 25  minutes, flip pieces and roast 15 minutes longer.

While squash roasts, melt butter with cashew nuts in a small skillet.  Cook until cashews start to get golden, keep a close eye on the pan. It will burn if you leave it cooking for longer than a couple of minutes. Remove skillet from heat and stir lemon juice. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Transfer roasted squash to a serving dish, mix with the sautéed cashews and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I talked about this recipe on my Facebook page, and a dear friend mentioned that she had a similar dish at a restaurant and loved it, but in that preparation they included crumbled feta on top. I know exactly how I’ll make it next time, and urge you to do so if you make it yourself. Sounds perfect to me.

The butter definitely makes the roast butternut quite special, as it cooks in the oven it gets that “browned butter” quality that is so wonderful both in savory and sweet dishes. I know many people are anti-butter these days, but there’s nothing wrong with using it every once in a while in a dish like this one. Totally worth it.

ONE YEAR AGO: Mississippi Roast and the Open Mind

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EIGHT YEARS AGO: Zen and the art of risotto

 

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ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH WITH WALNUTS AND TAHINI SAUCE

I never imagined I would call a butternut squash dish “festive”, but it’s the word that came to my mind as I savored it. I blame it on the addition of pomegranate seeds. They turn any dish into a celebration, little jewels of the gastronomic world. Plus their slightly sharp taste complements sweets, complements veggies, meats, hard to imagine something that cannot be paired with these red beauties. Remember Fesenjan? Anyway, in this preparation, I roasted butternut squash as I’ve done many times, in coconut oil with paprika. To me, it’s a trio made in heaven. And no, I do not use smoked paprika for this anymore, I now prefer a milder flavor with the squash. Of course, do as your taste buds instruct you to.

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH WITH WALNUTS AND TAHINI SAUCE
(inspired by several sources)

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut in large cubes
1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
walnut halves or large pieces
1/4 cup tahini
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
pepper to taste
water if needed to thin sauce
fresh pomegranate seeds
light drizzle of pomegranate molasses for serving (optional)

Heat the oven to 400 F.

Place the pieces of butternut squash in a large bowl, drizzle with the coconut oil, mixing it very quickly because it solidifies fast. Season with paprika, salt, and a little pepper. Transfer the squash to a baking dish that holds the pieces in a single layer. Roast for 20 minutes, then add walnuts, mixing gently with the squash. Roast for about 10 minutes more, until the squash is golden, with edges turning slightly brown.

Meanwhile, prepare the tahini sauce mixing tahini, lemon juice pepper and pepper. If it seems too thick, add water until you reach a nice fluid consistency.

When the squash and walnuts are roasted, transfer to a serving dish, drizzle the tahini sauce all over, and top with fresh pomegranate seeds. If you have pomegranate molasses, consider drizzling a little bit on top, a nice additional contrast of color and flavor.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This could be a great side dish for Thanksgiving, for those trying to move away from the classics, or perhaps in need to increase the variety of vegetarian-friendly sides. Of course, it’s odd to mention Thanksgiving in December, but the color-scheme of this dish makes it hard not to. Come to think of it, roasted sweet potatoes would work wonders too replacing the squash. And dried cranberries could play the role of pomegranate. The tahini dressing is perfect to tie the whole thing together in a very luscious way. We enjoyed this hearty side dish with store-bought roast chicken. Admittedly, this could be considered a sin in the home of a food blogger, but we love the convenience of it, and our store does a pretty decent job preparing it. So, we make our life easy and often bring one home for our dinner.

Plan ahead and reserve some tahini sauce (as well as extra pomegranate seeds) in case you want to call it lunch next day… I did, and it was absolutely delicious, love the contrast of a cool sauce with the warm squash.

ONE YEAR AGO: The Complicit Conspiracy of Alcohol

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THREE YEARS AGO: Macarons: Much better with a friend

FOUR YEARS AGO: Our Mexican Holiday Dinner 

FIVE YEARS AGO: The Ultimate Cranberry Sauce

SIX YEARS AGO: Edamame Dip

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Gougeres

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Beef Wellington on a Special Night

 

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THE WHEAT BERRY TRANSMOGRIFICATION

A post dedicated to “The Big Bang Theory” fans… 😉

Wheat berries are an amazing ingredient. You can use them for breakfast, desserts, salads, risotto-type dishes, you can add them to soups and stews.  Since I am always searching for side dishes to incorporate in our menu, wheat berries are a great alternative to give some rest to the usual suspects: rice, pasta, and couscous.  The other day I was feeling adventurous, and decided to create my own recipe for them.  Problems started right away.  A search on my cookbooks and online sources left me surprised (and quite puzzled) at the many different methods used to cook the grain.  Some people swear you must soak them overnight. Some insist you need a pressure cooker. I threw caution to the wind, didn’t soak them, didn’t invite the pressure cooker to play, but simply cooked them in salted water as if preparing pasta.  It took a little over 1 hour to get them the way I wanted: tender but not mushy.  After that, I incorporated them with two veggies I adore, and… side dish mission accomplished!

WHEAT BERRIES WITH BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND CELERY
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 cup wheat berries
1 medium butternut squash, cut in medium dice
olive oil
salt and pepper
smoked paprika
1 large celery stalk, cut in slices

Heat the oven to 420F.

Cook the wheat berries in plenty of salted water until al dente (depending on the brand, it might take from 1 to 2 hours).  When cooked to your taste, drain, and reserve.  If not using immediately, add just a little drizzle of olive oil to prevent the grains from sticking too much. Can be prepared a couple of days ahead.

While the wheat berries are cooking, place the diced butternut squash in a bowl, and drizzle olive oil just enough to lightly coat the pieces. Season the squash with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika.  Add them in a single layer over a rimmed baking dish.  Roast in the hot oven until cooked, and the edges start to brown (25 to 35 minutes).

Mix the cooked wheat berries with the roasted squash, add the raw celery, incorporate everything together gently.   Adjust seasoning, and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

We both loved this recipe!  Roasted butternut squash has a special place in my heart, and now stores in our neck of the woods carry those cute little bags with the cut veggie, so I often cave and bring those home to make my life easier.

We are also quite fond of raw celery. In this recipe, it gave the needed “crunch factor” to oppose the chewiness and softness of the wheat and squash.  The squash, when roasted, tastes a little sweet, so the smoked paprika and the celery help cut through that.

We enjoyed this dish with grilled pork tenderloin, but of course it goes well with all sorts of main dishes, standing also on its own if you add a hearty salad.

Hope you try it!

ONE YEAR AGO: Curried Zucchini Soup

TWO YEARS AGO: Roasted Onion and Asiago Cheese Miche (an outstanding bread!)

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DREAMING of BUTTERNUT SQUASH

Could it be the one we harvested from our garden?   Was it one from the farmer’s market, so perfectly shaped, with a shiny skin that gave me pause before putting a knife into it?   No.   The butternut squash of my dreams – and I hope you can stand the truth – was sold in plastic bags,  uniformly cut, in a grocery store.  Confession heals the soul, so now I feel good! 😉  I must explain,  that since 1995 I’ve lived  in a  place devoid of  food  stores such  as “Trader Joe’s” and “Whole Foods.” Although our “Native Roots Market” and “Forward Foods” are local delights, whenever our travels took us to a city blessed with TJs, we’d make a point to stop by and collect enough goodies to tide us over for a few months.  However,  fresh produce and planes don’t mix,  so I had to “walk on by” all the  tempting veggies and just look.   Look, look and dream  about how nice it would be to buy that cute bag of perfectly diced butternut squash, and enjoy its succulence without risking my fingertips.  Here in LA  we have 5 Trader Joe’s and 2 Whole Foods within driving distance, so when I spotted that little yellow bag I grabbed it  and drove smiling all the way home …. beside the butternut squash of my dreams!

PASTA WITH ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH, ARUGULA AND RICOTTA
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by Donna Hay)

pasta of your choice
butternut squash, cut in chunks
drizzle of olive oil
a few sage leaves
1/2 cup ricotta cheese (full fat, please)
fresh arugula, preferably baby leaves
zest of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Turn your oven to 400F, open the bag of butternut squash, admire how nice each piece looks, and spread them all in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Drizzle olive oil, season with salt and pepper, scatter a few fresh sage leaves over it, mix it all to coat all pieces with some oil, and roast for 20 minutes, until soft and starting to get brown at the edges.

Meanwhile, boil salted water to cook the pasta.   In a large bowl, place the arugula and ricotta cheese, breaking it up with a fork.  Season with salt and pepper.  When the pasta is cooked, reserve some of the water, then place the pasta over the arugula/ricotta mixture, mixing it all very well. Add the butternut squash, lemon zest, and a little of the pasta water in case the mixture seems too dry.   Adjust the seasoning, and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  Due to the constraints of our nano-kitchen, I search for all sorts of shortcuts when preparing dinner.  Pasta sauces that don’t need much cooking are now  my best friends.   I got the inspiration from a cookbook that recently arrived in the  mail:  Donna Hay’s Off the Shelf. She only used ricotta and arugula, but butternut squash and sage sounded like a nice way to round out the pasta.   As far as cheese goes, ricotta is light, so I recommend the full fat version.

A juicy grilled chicken breast was all we needed for a simple, satisfying dinner on a Tuesday evening after a busy day at work… Life is good!

ONE YEAR AGO: Levain Bread with Caramelized Onions

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