Friday, October 14, 2011

Wheat Berry And Cranberry Salad

I'm sharing this recipe because it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month and because I'm contributing a cookbook recipe to Louise's Cookbook Party at Months of Edible Celebrations (open to everyone). This recipe falls under the Cranberry Month category.

I learned about this salad from my close friend when her mom had breast cancer. I'm very happy to say that she survived her long and difficult battle. She is also my neighbor and friend and I can't tell you enough how happy I was to see her gardening again this summer.

My friend bought this, The Pink Ribbon Diet, cookbook so she could cook healthy meals for her mom when she was weak. I've tried the salad at her house and another friend made it recently, who is also a neighbor and friend of my friend's mom (sorry about the confusion). She made it during a girl's weekend at her summer home on Block Island that I was invited to in September and I've been wanting to make it ever since.

The Beautiful Block Island

We arrive!

A wheel barrel and wheat berry salad await us

Chatty Ladies

Artists setting up easels at The Spring House on a foggy morning

Back on mainland

Wheat Berry And Cranberry Salad
If you look for the recipe in the cookbook it's actually called Wheat Berry Salad. Since I doubled the recipe, I changed some of the ingredient portions that I thought would overwhelm the flavor if they were also doubled. So I doubled wheat berries down to cranberries but kept remaining ingredients portions the same, as explained in parentheses.

1 cup hard red winter wheat berries (instead of 1/2)
2 cups chopped pecans (instead of 1)
2 cups dried cranberries (instead of 1)
1/2 red onion, medium (same, I didn't double)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (same, I didn't double)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, I used regular but white would be nice (same, I didn't double)
Salt and black pepper to taste (I just used pepper)

First rinse the wheat berries in a strainer then place in a pot and cover with about two inches of water. Let them soak overnight or eight hours (according to the package). Drain. I soaked the wheat berries at 8 in the morning and they were ready by 3 pm.

The recipe says to then simmer the wheat berries for about 50 minutes in 4 cups of water until soft but chewy, or less for a firmer texture. However, after soaking my wheat berries for eight hours, they were already soft and chewy so I eliminated this step.

While the wheat berries cool (if you cook them). Make the dressing by whisking oil, vinegar, and pepper together. In a large bowl, combine the wheat berries with pecans, dried cranberries, and red onion. Pour dressing over and mix together.

Serve at room temperature or cold.

Tastes great like this - an easy busy school night meal with a rotisserie chicken (organic/no salt/Whole Foods). Tastes great just by itself as a salad, or over red or other soft lettuce, with sandwiches, along side pork, ham, or with turkey on Thanksgiving.

Garlicky Cauliflower Parsnip Mashed Potatoes And Leftover Patties

One plan.

Two vegetables.

Three meals.

Four happy stomachs.

And a happy mom.

Our three days of cauliflower and parsnips started when I saw gorgeous cauliflower being set up at the market the other day. The cauliflower had just come in from a local grower! I don't remember where the parsnips were from but they were gorgeous as well (pictured here). I just had to have them.

The Plan: How many meals can I get this week from these two vegetables. The ideas developed each day and we ended up with a lunch, a dinner, and a breakfast.

On Monday, with everyone home for the holiday, we had Rustic Cauliflower And Parsnip Soup for lunch which is posted here.

On Wednesday, dinner was Garlicky Cauliflower Parsnip Mashed Potatoes along side baked salmon topped with basil pesto I had in the freezer, made from our garden at the end of summer. 

For breakfast, Garlicky Cauliflower Parsnip Mashed Potato Patties, made with the leftovers, along side over-easy eggs. 

Garlicky Cauliflower Parsnip Mashed Potatoes

4 medium-large red potatoes
3-4 cups roasted cauliflower, loosely packed chunks, see here
1 cup roasted parsnips, see here
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or olive oil
4-6 roasted garlic cloves, depending on size and taste
About 1 1/2 - 2 cups milk, depending on desired consistency
About 1/4 cup butter, or favorite spread, to taste
1/2 teaspoon whole-grain mustard
Pepper to taste

For ease and efficiency, I roasted the garlic while salmon baked so I'll give that method. To find out how to otherwise roast garlic, check out sources on the internet. I was surprised that the garlic was ready in the time it took to bake the salmon.   

To roast garlic while baking salmon or other fish, place a little olive oil in a small baking sheet, cut a little off the top of the entire garlic bulb, place bulb upside down onto baking sheet (it's okay if some cloves separate). Preheat oven and roast for about 15 minutes or until the fish is done. Garlic is done when a clove is soft and mushy when squeezed, if not, leave garlic to roast a little longer. The garlic can also be roasted in aluminum foil in the same pan as the fish if there's room.

Meanwhile, boil the potatoes until fork tender. I quartered them to save time.

Squeeze 4 to 6 garlic cloves from the roasted garlic bulb into drained potatoes. Store and refrigerate the remaining garlic for something else (use within a week). Roasted garlic tastes great just spread over good crusty bread with sliced apples . . . some cheese . . . maybe?

Add roasted cauliflower and parsnips to the potatoes. Chop them up a little more first to make it easier to mash.

Mash with milk and butter (I use lactose-free milk and Earth Balance buttery spread). Start with about 1/4 cup of milk adding more until it looks right. Add butter to taste. Sprinkle on a little pepper to taste. When all combined, add mustard. Taste and add more if you want. I thought 1/4 teaspoon was perfect.

I kept the potatoes and vegetables rustic by leaving them thick and chunky.

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Leftover Garlicky Cauliflower Parsnip Mashed Potato Patties

This recipe will work well if potatoes are chunky like above 
2 cups of leftover potatoes from above recipe
1 egg
1/2 cup breadcrumbs, I used Gillian's again - wheat, gluten, dairy free
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or olive oil
I didn't have chives or shallots, but they would be a nice addition

Mix all ingredients together and let sit about 15-20 minutes so breadcrumbs absorb the moisture. If potatoes and egg are cold, it's okay to let it sit out. Otherwise, cover and refrigerate until ready. Form patties from mixture, about 1/4 cup each. Add oil to a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add patties. My pan fit four nicely. This recipe made 7 patties. 8 or 6 patties could easily be made by adjusting the patty size. Cook until a nice brown crust forms, flip and finish cooking.

The patties went well with eggs. I think it would also taste great with some horseradish or mustard, or both, with a slice of roast beef.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Rustic Roasted Cauliflower And Parsnip Soup


Roasted Cauliflower And Parsnip Soup 

My family doesn't love cauliflower and parsnip as much as I do but I still try serving it, especially when it's in season. I wasn't sure what their reaction would be when I called them to lunch yesterday afternoon. And after a few spoonfuls, it was unanimous that this is the "only way to make them"!

For roasting:
2 heads of cauliflower, coarsely chopped
1 package parsnips, about 4-5 sliced into quarters lengthwise
Extra virgin olive oil to coat
Pepper to taste
Salt, optional

For the soup:
About 6 cups roasted chopped cauliflower, loosely packed
About 1 cup roasted sliced parsnips, cut into quarters and loosely packed
     ~ save remaining vegetables for a side dish to another meal
1 32 oz box low-sodium vegetable stock, or 4-5 cups
2 cups milk (I used 2% lactose-free), or half and half
2 bay leaves
About 1/8 teaspoon ground sage, or about 2 chopped fresh sage leaves
About 1/8 teaspoon of ground nutmeg, or to taste
1 teaspoon butter, or preferred spread
Pepper to taste
Salt, optional
Grated Parmesan cheese

Coat vegetables in a little extra virgin olive oil, add pepper, and roast on a baking sheet in a preheated 400 degree for about 20-30 minutes or until fork tender. If they start to burn (time depends on size of vegetables and variations in oven temperatures), remove from oven and they'll soften more in the stock. When done, add all the ingredients listed for the soup into a large stock pot and bring to a boil then simmer about 30-40 minutes or until all the flavors have melded (vegetables should be soft). Taste the flavor to determine how much to season with sage and nutmeg. Remove bay leaves. Blend to desired consistency with an immersion blender; or let cool about 15 minutes then pour into a food processor or blender and process (don't put hot soup into a food processor/blender or it could explode out the cover and start with pulse or low, slowly increasing speed) until desired consistency is achieved. Add more milk if needed. Garnish individual servings with grated Parmesan cheese.

Here's how to make the soup and have some leftover vegetables for another meal:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Trim and wash 2 large heads of cauliflower and 1 package of parsnips, about 4-5 medium.

Toss coarsely chopped cauliflower and sliced parsnips with a little extra virgin olive oil, pepper to taste, and a little salt if you want but the Parmesan cheese added at the end will provide the salt.

Roast cauliflower and parsnips at 400 degrees about 20-30 minutes until fork tender. If they're burning and not quite tender, don't worry, they'll soften up more in the stock.

In a large stock pot, heat low-sodium vegetable stock, milk or half and half, butter or favorite spread, a few pinches of ground sage up to about 1/8 teaspoon. (Not much as it's a lot stronger than fresh sage. I tasted as I added.), 2 bay leaves, pepper to taste, a few pinches of ground nutmeg up to 1/8 teaspoon (again, taste for flavor and freshly ground is nice), salt to taste is optional. I avoided adding too much flavor with herbs and spices so that we could taste the big flavors of the roasted cauliflower and parsnips. Add a little, taste, add more according to your taste. Remember, the Parmesan cheese will add more flavor and saltiness at the end.

Dairy: I used lactose-free milk just to give myself a break from dairy. I used organic Earth Balance Organic Buttery Spread, again to reduce the dairy load.

Bring all ingredients to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for approximately 30 minutes until all vegetables are tender and all ingredients have melded nicely. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Blend to desired consistency with an immersion blender if you have one. These blenders are great - there's a lot less to clean up afterwards but if using a regular blender or food processor, wait until the soup cools a little first, about 15 minutes. Then start blending on pulse or low so the soup doesn't explode, gradually increase speed if needed.

Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with Parmesan cheese. 

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Below is another favorite gadget of mine. Just place a small piece of cheese into the chamber, turn the handle and grated cheese comes right out. It's fun to put out at the table and everyone can help themselves.

From all the cheese you see in my recipes you wouldn't know that I'm lactose intolerant. Hard cheeses aren't too difficult to digest, but milk, cream, butter, and soft cheeses are.

This rustic soup looks a little chunky but that texture was intended. It's how I like soup. I like picking up a few pieces of the vegetables so I know I'm actually eating vegetables. It can be made creamier by processing it more with the immersion blender, a food processor, or a regular blender.

Save the rest of the roasted vegetables for another meal. Since my family really doesn't like cauliflower or parsnips, other than in the soup I learned, I may be snacking on these myself!

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Variation: This recipe is pretty easy to make and tastes good this way but a roughly chopped small onion or shallot could also be roasted along with the cauliflower and parsnips if desired.

Serves: about 6 to 8, depending on appetites. 

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Update: This post was on The #meatlessmonday Daily ,10/5/11!