Living the WELL Life


Warm Me Up - by Christina Pirello

Monday, November 08, 2010

It's fall in Philadelphia and today it feels a bit more like winter!  The weather definitely influences my food choices as I look to cool down in the summer with light entrees and embrace rich, warm and creamy food in the fall or winter.  Here's a menu of dishes inspired for those rainy or cool days of autumn.  They go well with a comfy couch, cozy blanket and a good movie. 

 

Menu
Black-Eyed Hummus
Spicy Lentil Soup
Risotto with Beet Greens and Leeks
Saffron Polenta with Sautéed Vegetables
Linzer Bar Cookies

Black-Eyed Hummus
½ cup dried black-eyed peas, sorted and rinsed well
2 cups spring or filtered water
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons sesame tahini
1 to 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
generous pinch ground cumin
generous pinch chili powder
juice of ½ lemon
sea salt
2 to 3 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely minced
crackers, pita bread or whole-grain toast points, to serve

Place the beans and water in a heavy saucepan.  Add the bay leaf.  Bring to a boil, uncovered, over medium heat.  Boil for about 5 minutes, cover and reduce the heat to low.  Cook the beans until just tender, about 1 hour.  Drain away the remaining liquid from the beans, discard the bay leaf and set the beans aside to cool.

When the beans are cooled to room temperature, place in a food processor with the remaining ingredients, except the parsley, adding salt to your taste.  Puree until smooth.  Adjust the seasonings to your taste, adding more spices or more lemon juice.  Transfer to a serving bowl, stir in the parsley and serve at room temperature or chilled with crackers.  Makes 4-5 servings.

Spicy Lentil Soup
1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 to 3 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
1 small yellow onion, diced
Sea salt
1 carrot, diced
1 small sweet potato, diced
1 small dried red chile, crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup green or brown lentils, sorted and rinsed well
1 bay leaf
4 cups spring or filtered water
2 teaspoons white miso
2 to 3 sprigs fresh basil, finely minced

Place the oil, garlic and onion in a soup pot over medium heat.  When the onion begins to sizzle, add a pinch of salt and sauté for 2 minutes.  Add the carrot, sweet potato, and another pinch of salt and sauté, stirring occasionally, until shiny with oil.  Add the chili, cumin and turmeric and stir well.  Add the lentils, bay leaf and water, cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer until the lentils are quite soft, about 45 minutes.  Remove a small amount of broth and use to dissolve the miso.  Stir the miso mixture into the soup, remove the bay leaf and simmer the soup, uncovered, for 3 to 4 minutes to activate the enzymes in the miso.  Stir the basil into the soup and serve immediately.  Makes 5 to 6 servings.

Risotto with Beet Greens and Leeks
5 cups spring or filtered water
about 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium leek, split lengthwise, rinsed well, thinly sliced
Sea salt
1 cup Arborio rice (do not rinse)
¼ cup mirin or white wine
1 small bunch beet greens, diced
1 teaspoon white miso
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Lemon wedges, for garnish

Bring the water to a simmer and keep it warm over low heat throughout the cooking.  Place the oil and leek in a deep skillet over medium heat.  When the leek begins to sizzle, add a pinch of salt and sauté until the leek is bright green, 1 to 2 minutes.  Stir in the rice and mirin.  Sauté until the mirin is absorbed into the rice.  Stir in the beet greens.  Add the water, ½ cup at a time, stirring frequently and adding more only when the water has been absorbed into the rice.  The total cooking time is about 25 minutes.

Dissolve the miso into the final ½ cup water before stirring into the rice, along with the lemon zest.  When the rice has absorbed the last of the liquid, it will be creamy, but still retain its shape; transfer to a serving bowl and serve garnished with lemon wedges.  Makes 4 to 5 servings.

Saffron Polenta with Sautéed Vegetables
Saffron Polenta
5 cups spring or filtered water
½ cup yellow cornmeal
2 ½ cups yellow corn grits
Pinch sea salt
2 to 3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon saffron threads

Sautéed Vegetables
1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 to 3 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
1 yellow onion, cut into thin half-moon slices
Sea salt
6 to 8 crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
½ small fennel bulb, stalks trimmed flush to the bulb and bulb thinly sliced
1 carrot, cut into fine matchstick pieces
½ cup mirin or white wine
3 fresh vine-ripened tomatoes, diced
1 small bunch broccoli rabe, finely cut
½ cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, shredded

To make the polenta, whisk together the water, cornmeal, grits, salt, oil, and saffron in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium-low heat, whisking constantly.  Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until the center of the polenta bubbles and pops, about 35 minutes.  Transfer the polenta to a lightly oiled, shallow dish and set aside until firm, about 1 hour.

To make the vegetables, place the oil, garlic, and onion in a wok or skillet over medium heat.  When the vegetables being to sizzle, add a pinch of salt and sauté for 2 minutes.  Stir in the mushrooms and a pinch of salt and sauté until the mushrooms release their juices into the pan.  Stir in the fennel, carrot and a pinch of salt and sauté for 1 minute.  Add the mirin and tomatoes, cover and cook over low heat until the vegetables are quite soft, about 25 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and add the broccoli rabe on top.  Cover and cook until the rabe is bright green.  Remove the cover and simmer until any remaining cooking liquid has been absorbed into the vegetables.  Remove from heat and stir in shredded basil.

To serve, either cut or scoop polenta onto individual places and mound vegetables on top.  Serve immediately.  Makes 5 to 6 servings.

Linzer Bar Cookies
½ cup avocado or light olive oil
½ cup brown rice syrup
¼ cup barley malt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Generous pinch sea salt
1 cup coarse almond meal
¾ cup arrowroot powder
¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup unsweetened raspberry or strawberry preserves

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly oil and flour a 9-inch square baking pan.  Place the oil, rice syrup, barley malt and vanilla in a saucepan over low heat, and cook, stirring, until loose.  Remove from the heat and pour into a mixing bowl.  Whisk in the cinnamon, lemon zest and salt.  Mix in the almond meal, arrowroot, flour and baking powder, stirring to create a stiff dough.

Press half the dough firmly into the prepared pan.  Spoon preserves evenly over the dough, right to the edges.  Crumble the remaining dough over the preserves, covering completely.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the dough is firm to the touch and the preserves are bubbling.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely before cutting into 1-inch squares. 

 



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