March-April 2011 | AFTER THOUGHTS

Oven Roasted Golden and Red Beet Salad with an Orange Vinaigrette
Spaghetti Squash BologneseLeek and Red Skinned Potato Soup with White Truffle EssenceSirloin Steak Butter-Lettuce Tacos with a Granny Smith Apple and Jicama Slaw and Cilantro Lime Sour Cream

FLAVORS

AFTER THOUGHTS

We take often-forgotten produce from the grocer’s market and create sensational dishes your whole family will love

Written By: | Photographer: Stephen Cherry

Oven Roasted Golden and Red Beet Salad with an Orange Vinaigrette

Ingredients:
1 bunch red beets
1 bunch golden beets
2 naval oranges
Your favorite mixed greens (we used an herb salad mix)
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
Goat cheese
Whole pecans, toasted lightly
1 red onion, sliced very thin
2 tbsp whole-grain mustard
1 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp sugar or honey


Instructions:
Begin by preheating your oven to 425 degrees. Grab your beets and cut off the stems and leaves, leaving behind only the beet. Rinse and dry. Separate your red and golden beets for roasting in two heavy-duty aluminum foil pouches. Before sealing them tightly, coat them in a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Place pouches on a sheet pan before going into the oven for 35-45 minutes or until a knife inserted shows no resistance. Remove from the oven and cool until you are able to handle them. For the next step I recommend you wear a shirt you don’t mind ruining with beet juice or an apron. Remove the beets from the pouch, and with a paring knife, gently scrape off the skin of the beet. It should remove very easily, but beets are notoriously messy. Slice the beets and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the zest of one orange and the juice of that orange, mirin, mustard, rice wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar and sugar, then whisk. Once combined, quickly whisk in ½ cup of olive oil. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed. Adjust to your preference with more or less sugar, vinegar or juice. Using a sharp knife, remove the rind and pith (the white part under the rind) of the second orange. To cut out perfect orange segments, hold the orange in one hand and cut along the white seams to the center of the orange. The segment should fall out; seeds and membrane should remain intact in your hand.

To assemble, lay a bed of your favorite greens, followed by alternating slices of golden beets and red beets. Additional ingredients are optional and can be interchanged with your favorite salad items, but I found a great combination in goat cheese, toasted pecans, orange segments and thinly sliced red onions.


Spaghetti Squash Bolognese

Ingredients:
1 large Vidalia onion, diced
3 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
2 large carrots, diced
6 oz or one small pint of baby portabella mushrooms, diced
1 lb ground beef (any kind), or you may substitute ground chicken, turkey or pork
28-oz can crushed tomatoes
2 tsp white sugar
1 pinch (just a light dusting) of nutmeg, fresh or powdered
3-4 tbsp heavy cream
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
1 large spaghetti squash
Olive oil
Block of Parmesan cheese, for shredding on top


Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Slice the spaghetti squash in half and remove the seeds and interior stringy matter. On a cookie sheet, put 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and place the squash cut-side-down on the sheet. Bake until soft to the touch (depending on the size of the squash, this should take about 45 minutes).

In a pot on medium heat, add 2-3 tbsp of olive oil and sauté the onions, garlic, mushrooms and carrots until softened. You may salt and pepper to taste at this time. Add ground beef (or other meat) and cook until done. Next, add the can of tomatoes and sugar, then stir to combine. Put a lid on it and reduce the heat to low and cook for an hour or so for flavors to meld. Just before you serve, add cream and nutmeg.

Remove the squash from the oven and allow to cool enough to handle. With a fork, gently pull the flesh of the squash away from the skin. It should come off in strings resembling pale, yellow spaghetti. Transfer the squash to a dish and quickly add some olive oil, salt and pepper stirring to combine thoroughly. Top servings of squash with sauce and top that with fresh shredded Parmesan cheese.


Leek and Red Skinned Potato Soup with White Truffle Essence

Ingredients:
5 large leeks
1 large shallot, sliced
1 large or 2 small cloves of fresh garlic, minced
5-6 medium red-skinned potatoes, more if smaller. Diced to ½ inch
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
¼ cup heavy cream
Olive oil
Vegetable oil
2 tbsp butter
Kosher salt
Chopped chives
Fresh ground pepper
White truffle oil (optional but recommended)


Instructions:
First, clean the leeks thoroughly because they are grown in sandy soil. Cut off the root and slice into ¼-inch slices from the white end to the area where the leek begins to turn dark green and especially tough at the top. Place them in a large bowl filled with water in the sink. Do your best to separate the circles of leeks and allow them to rinse in the water. Place a large kitchen towel by the sink, and as you grab handfuls of the clean leeks, put them in the towel to dry. Meanwhile, in a medium-sized soup pot on medium heat, sauté your shallots until soft in about 3 tbsp of olive oil and 2 tbsp of butter. Add garlic and sauté for one minute more.

Add your leeks and stir to coat. Continue cooking your leeks until they wilt significantly. (You may add salt and pepper to taste at this time.) If you would like to keep the dish vegetarian, use vegetable stock (but I used chicken stock for a bit more depth of flavor).

Simmer leeks until they are very soft. At this point, use your immersion blender to blend your leeks, shallows and garlic until smooth. This should thicken the soup slightly. For a thicker consistency, combine 1 tbsp of cornstarch and 2 tbsp of cold water in a small bowl and stir into soup.

Add heavy cream and stir. Finally, in the final 15 minutes before service, stir in potatoes and cook until just tender. Carefully add only 3-4 drops of white truffle oil if desired to heighten the flavor of the soup. Garnish with some fried leeks, chives or both.


Sirloin Steak Butter-Lettuce Tacos with a Granny Smith Apple and Jicama Slaw and Cilantro Lime Sour Cream

Ingredients:
1 medium sized jicama, julienned into thin matchsticks
1 granny smith apple, julienned into thin matchsticks
¼ of a small red onion, sliced thin
1 tbsp whole grain mustard
2 limes (you will use the juice and zest)
1 head of butter-lettuce (also called Bibb lettuce)
2 small-medium sirloin steaks
1 medium tomato, diced
(optional)
½ cup sour cream
3 tbsp chopped cilantro
½ cup rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp mirin
1 tsp white sugar
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
Olive oil


Instructions:
In a large bowl, combine the jicama, apple and red onion. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the mustard, the juice and zest of one lime, rice wine vinegar, mirin, sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk to combine. Pour the dressing onto the vegetables and fruit in a large bowl and toss to coat. You should do this step first, so the dressing has time to slightly wilt the ingredients.

Lightly coat with olive oil and liberally season your steaks with salt and pepper. Cook them on an indoor grill pan or outdoor grill to your favorite temperature and allow to rest so the juices can redistribute. In a small bowl, combine sour cream, the zest and juice of a lime and 2 tablespoons of your chopped cilantro. Stir to combine and set aside momentarily.

Cut your steak against the grain on the bias so that your long strips of steak will not be difficult to chew. Carefully disassemble your head of lettuce such that each whole leaf remains intact, as you are going to use them in place of a normal taco shell. To build your tacos, layer steak, jicama and apple slaw, sour cream and tomatoes onto a lettuce leaf. Garnish with reserved cilantro.




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