Spicy Wheatberries and Lentils with Beet Greens, Olives, and Hazelnuts
Yield: 4 servings
Please forgive me for using a list of ingredients that are all pre-cooked. I know it adds about ten hours of prep time if you want to make it from scratch exactly as written. I'm terrible like that.
But that's the beauty of such dishes, right? You don't really need to follow the recipe to the letter. It's a mélange de frigo. Use what you got.
The olives I used were from a large gourmet grocery (cough cough whole foods cough), and were pre-pitted and marinated with red chilies. I minced and used all three chilies that I picked up along with the olives, and I dearly loved the level of spice. Use less chili (or none) if you're a wuss.
Greens from 2 bunches of beets, washed well
2 tablespoons olive oil (or bacon fat, if you're fancy)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup cooked lentils du Puy
1 cup cooked wheatberries
1/2 cup green and black olives marinated in chilies (or olives and your preferred red chile or hot sauce)
1/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted
2 cups baby spinach
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Salt and black pepper, as needed
1. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, roughly chop the beet greens into 1/2 inch lengths. Add the olive oil to the pan, followed by the chopped stems of the beet greens. Salt lightly, toss to combine, and cook for 2-4 minutes to soften the stems.
2. Add the remaining bits of beet greens, along with a splash of water (or stock, if you have it), about 1/4 cup or less, and cook until wilted and the liquid has mostly evaporated.
3. While the greens cook, mince the garlic. Add to the pan, and cook about 1 minute.
4. Add the lentils and wheatberries. Cook another minute or so, until warmed through.
5. Meanwhile, chop the olives and hazelnuts roughly, and mince any chile that may be included in the olives. Add to the pan, and remove from heat. Stir in the spinach at once, so the heat can wilt it. Squeeze a little lemon juice over everything.
6. Taste, and correct the seasoning as needed with salt, pepper, lemon juice, and additional olive oil. Serve warm, or at room temperature.
I’ll be honest. I don’t love cooked carrots. They’re too often mushy and have that somehow sweet blandness that screams “overcooked”.
But I’ve found that a quick toss in a hot sauté pan does something to carrots that I really enjoy. They stay al dente in the middle, but soften enough so you’re not eating great chunks of raw roots.
Add some vaguely North African flavors to the mix, and it’s a meal I can go to town on. It’s all red onion, ginger, dukkah, cilantro, and lime, tossed together à la Ottolenghi, and served on red quinoa.
Super healthy, super fast, super flavorful. Exactly the way I want to eat.
If you don't have (or can't be bothered to make) dukkah, you can substitute 2 to 3 teaspoons Garam Masala, or even curry powder. Use less, because dukkah contains nuts which mitigates the spices. Woe betide you if you use 3 tablespoons curry powder in this.
The way I cut the carrots sounds more complicated than it is. But here goes: cut the carrot on a 45° angle. Roll the carrot over a little (maybe a quarter or half a turn). Cut again on a 45° angle. You should end up with a vaguely trapezoidal shape. Continue cutting the carrot, and rolling it, until you have a pile of irregularly-shaped bits of carrot, some bigger, some smaller. They will not cook entirely evenly. This is kind of the point.
1 pound carrots, preferably small
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
2 to 3 stalks celery, preferably from the heart and with leaves
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced (or grated)
Cooked red quinoa, or other grain of choice, for serving
1. Peel the carrots. Using angled knife strokes, cut them into irregular pieces. Prepare the remaining vegetables.
2. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, and toss to coat with the oil. Season with a sprinkle of salt and black pepper, and let cook until beginning to soften and the edges just start to brown, about 3 minutes.
3. Toss in the onion and celery. Cook until just beginning to soften, about 2 to 3 minutes.
4. Add the ginger, dukkah, and white parts of the scallions. Stir to combine, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Remove from heat.
5. Stir in the cilantro and green scallion tops. Taste, and correct seasoning with salt, pepper, and maybe a squeeze of lime juice if you've got it.
6. Serve over red quinoa, or any other lovely grain.
There’s a whole lotta green still, but you turn a corner and WHAM, there’s the most brilliant orange lit up in the crisp sunshine.
If you happen to get my personal chef newsletter (ahemshameless plug), you saw that I featured pumpkins this month. Such a novel idea this time of year; I’m so innovative.
And of course, because I got all into pumpkins, I had to cook some. Running errands yesterday, I happened to park literally across the sidewalk from a small farmers market, where I saw the most adorable little Delicata squash. Kismet.
Using the super-simple recipe for Avocado Sauce I recently developed for a client’s dinner party (I can never get enough avocado), the goat cheese still banging around in the fridge, and what I hope isn’t the last of my spicy globe basil, I had a Fall Fantasie on my plate, all orange and green and golden brown.
There happened to be both hazelnuts and pumpkin seeds in the pantry, either of which would have been equally good here. I chose hazelnuts because I am a creature of free will, and for no other reason. Yes, I dropped on a few miserly drops of truffle oil. It didn’t need it, but it did gild the lily.
This dish is so pretty and so flavorful, I can see a long tray of it served at Thanksgiving, but it’s certainly nutritious enough for everyday dining. Don’t forget to serve it with a little salad and some crusty bread.
If you tend to have sensitive skin like I do, you might want to consider donning a pair of rubber or latex gloves while preparing raw winter squash. Delicata might not cause the same reaction, but after cutting a butternut years ago and dealing with "Elmer's glue hands" for a week, I don't take any chances.
For the Squash:
2 Delicata squash (look for ones that have more orange or yellow color to them)
2 tablespoons softened bacon fat, butter, olive oil, or a combination
Salt and black pepper, as needed
5 to 10 bay leaves (optional)
For the Avocado Sauce:
1 small shallot
3 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly
Water, as needed
2 tablespoons crème fraîche or sour cream (optional)
Salt and pepper
Goat cheese (4 to 6 ounces should do it for 4 servings)
Toasted and chopped hazelnuts (about 1/4 cup)
Extra-virgin olive oil (optional)
Truffle oil (optional)
For the Delicata Squash:
1. Preheat oven to 375º F, and position a rack in the middle.
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (optional, but absolutely prevents any sticking).
3. Slice the squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds (either roast those separately or discard). Halve the squash with a diagonal cut, and then again, cutting each squash into 8 long triangles. You can, of course, cut it any way you like, as long as the pieces are about the same size.
4. Put the squash on the prepared pan, and rub the pieces with the softened bacon fat (or whatever you're using) until evenly coated. Sprinkle generously with salt and black pepper. Scatter the bay leaves around the squash.
5. Roast for 45 to 60 minutes, or until browned on the edges and the flesh is soft (check by piercing with a sharp knife; it should meet no resistance). Let cool slightly.
6. While the squash roasts, prepare the Avocado Sauce, and toast and chop the hazelnuts.
For the Avocado Sauce:
1. Roughly chop the avocado and shallot. Purée with 3 tablespoons of the lemon juice in a small food processor, scraping the sides as needed.
2. While the processor is still running, drizzle in the melted butter. If the sauce looks very thick, add water by tablespoons as needed to thin.
3. The sauce will taste a little flat and tart at this point. Sample it, and add salt, pepper, and/or additional lemon juice to taste. Add a spoonful of crème fraîche or sour cream if you have it, and the mood strikes you.
4. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve to remove any lumps. You may need a spatula to force it through. If making a day or so in advance, cover and refrigerate until ready to use. If you want a warm sauce, or if it becomes too thick in the fridge, gently heat it in a small saucepan over low heat, or in the microwave on short bursts.
1. Put a few pieces of squash on a plate. Spoon some avocado sauce over the top, and crumble the goat cheese over that. Scatter the hazelnuts and basil leaves (torn into small pieces if large) around the plate, and drizzle with olive oil if you like.
2. If using truffle oil, carefully drop on a very few drops (only a VERY FEW please!). The focus isn't truffle here, so please use it judiciously. I'm talking 4 or 5 drops on the whole plate. It's potent stuff.