Monday, March 26, 2012

Balsamic-Glazed Baked Beets

I know a lot of people don't like beets because they say beets taste like dirt.  I prefer to call the flavor "earthy," and I think it's a good thing.  Being partial to the color red, I also thing they're also about the prettiest vegetable in existence.  This makes a big batch, and the leftovers keep well in the fridge for at least a week.  I recommend storing them in glass since they'll stain plastic.

The Ingredients:
6-8 large beets, peeled
2 T apple balsamic or other high-quality balsamic vinegar
1 T + 1 t olive oil
1/4 t salt
1/4 t tarragon
a pinch black pepper

The Process:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Halve beets lengthwise, then slice crosswise in 1/4-1/3 inch thick slices.
  3. Toss beets with remaining ingredients in a covered casserole dish.
  4. Bake for about 90 minutes or until softened, stirring every 20 minutes or so.
  5. Serve hot, room temperature, or chilled.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Polenta Pancakes with Cilantro Pesto

These pancakes make a great savory weekend brunch.  The cakes are soft on the inside and crisp on the outside, and the pesto adds bite.  The pesto can be made a day ahead of time and stored in the fridge in an airtight container, but give it time to warm back up to room temperature before serving. This recipe makes about 7 pancakes, and you'll probably have some pesto left over.

The Ingredients:
1 large bunch cilantro, bottom 1-2 inches of stem removed (about 2 cups packed)
3/4 c walnuts
2-3 cloves garlic
1/3-1/2 c olive oil
3 T nutritional yeast
1 T + 1 t lime juice
1 T rice vinegar
1 T agave nectar
1/2 t paprika

1 c cornmeal
1 c boiling water
1/2 c corn flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 c almond milk
2 T olive oil, plus more for cooking
3/4 c corn kernels, fresh or frozen

The Process:

For Pesto:
  1. Peel garlic, and toast garlic and walnuts over medium heat until fragrant, about 3 minutes, watching carefully to prevent nuts from burning.
  2. Combine  all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until ingredients are well-combined but still distinct, scraping down the sides and adding more oil as necessary.  Store in an airtight container or cover tightly until ready to serve.
For Pancakes:
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine cornmeal and boiling water to make a soft dough.  Cover tightly and let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk baking powder and salt into corn flour.
  3. Vigorously whisk corn flour mixture, almond milk, and oil into cornmeal until smooth.  Whisk in corn kernels.
  4. Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Coat with oil to prevent pancakes from sticking.  Scoop 1/2 cup batter for each pancake onto the skillet.  Allow to cook undisturbed for about 3 minutes, then turn and continue cooking until golden on both sides, about 2 more minutes.  (If making more than a single batch, keep finished pancakes warm in a 200° oven.)
  5. Top pancakes with cilantro pesto and serve. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sunflower Seed Pesto

I've been on an elimination diet to see whether a food allergy or intolerance might be playing a part in some health problems I've been having.  I've found vegan plus soy, nut, citrus, strawberry, gluten, nightshade, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol-free eating a bit of a challenge, thus the lack of recent blog posts. Alas, the diet doesn't seem to have improved my health any, but it did lead me to create this nut-free, citrus-free pesto, which I enjoyed over quinoa pasta.

The Ingredients:
2 tightly-packed cups basil leaves
1/2 c olive oil
1/2 c roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds
1/4 c nutritional yeast
4 cloves garlic
2 t rice vinegar
1/2 t salt

The Process:
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until blended, scraping down the sides and adding more olive oil if needed.