The outdoor market in my neighborhood is now open for the season, and I have been enjoying the undeniable pleasures of fresh locally grown produce. So far in Northern Indiana that means sweet teensy strawberries, leafy salad greens, rainbows of beets, and “hand-snapped” (one farmer tells me each time) bundles of asparagus. My roasted red beet and spring green asparagus recipe comes together perfectly this time of year. Minimal dishes required for maximum flavors in one roasting pan: sweet/smoky/earthy/smooth/crunchy.
Serves 1 or 2 depending on the situation. I imagine this dish as a beautiful accompaniment to grilled salmon or an oven-poached white fish.
3 small red beets
12 green asparagus spears
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
1 tablespoon pine nuts
Preheat oven to 350-degrees.
Scrub beets and slice into coins. Place in roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for 8 minutes, turning once.
Meanwhile, rinse asparagus and chop off the woody ends. Place asparagus on top of the roasted beets and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt & pepper. Bake together for 10 minutes more, turning once. At the end of ten minutes you should be able to smell the roasted asparagus and see a slight browning on the stems. If needed, keep the pan in the oven a few minutes longer.
While the asparagus and beets are roasting in the oven, toast the pine nuts in a medium skillet for about five minutes. Toss them frequently or they will quickly scorch. Set aside to cool.
Top the warm roasted red beets and spring green asparagus with slices of fresh mozzarella and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice never hurts either.
If ever a muffin were meal-worthy and meaty, this is the one. It begins with a mashed sweet potato and ends with a team of ‘superfoods’ encased in the batter. This is the type of muffin that you throw in your backpack before a hike or grab on the way out the door to make up for breakfast. Or better yet, have it for breakfast, toasted and topped with peanut (or other nut/seed) butter, and you will face the day as a force to be reckoned with! The recipe below is a riff on a paleo inspired recipe for Morning Glory Muffins. My version includes dried blueberries, walnuts, flaxseed, and coconut. Did I mention that there is no butter, oil, or refined sugar in them; they really are super muffins.
Morning Superpowers Muffins
1/2 cup mashed sweet potato (one small-medium sweet potato)
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs (slightly whisked)
1/2 cup all purpose flour (3/4 cup almond flour for GF version)
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t cardamom
1 t vanilla extract
1 t baking powder
1/8 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup shredded coconut (I used unsweetened)
1-2 T flaxseed
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup raw walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350-degrees.
- Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl (in three steps) until fully blended.
- Coat muffin tin with cooking spray or papers and divide batter evenly.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- Allow to cool completely. Even better the next day. Makes 6 big ones!
A fresh batch of granola for my upcoming road trip! This go around, I changed up Melissa Clarks’ recipe with some dried mango, candied ginger, and walnuts. Packed and ready: a tasty remedy for the munchies and a potentially queasy stomach, along with a hint of summertime flavor.
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (regular or gluten free)
1 1/2 cups raw walnuts
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup coconut
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup chopped (or torn) dried mangoes
1/4 cup finely chopped candied ginger
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine oats, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, coconut, maple syrup, olive oil, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and cardamom. Spread mixture in an even layer and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown and well toasted.
2. Transfer granola to a large bowl and add mangoes and candied ginger, tossing to combine.
Much alone or atop yogurt.
Chocolate & peanut butter: one of the great &s of all time. Earlier this week I whipped up a variation on two decadent (gluten free) dessert recipes. These recipes are suspicious alone but wonderfully dangerous when combined. I took a couple of the dense treats over to a neighbor who shares my affinity for peanut butter. He later told me, judging by the weight of the 2 “cookies” I knew it was serious business! So there you have it, this recipe mash-up is not for the faint of heart. Can you handle it?
Flourless Double Chocolate Peanut Cookies Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Recipe
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate chunks
1 1/2 cups chopped peanuts
4 large egg whites at room temperature
Preheat oven to 325-degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, cocoa, and salt (I like to use a mesh colander to sift the dry ingredients). Stir in chocolate and peanuts (I pulverized half of the nuts in my blender). Add egg whites and stir just until incorporated (looks like thick brownie batter).
Drop dough balls (cookie scoop works wonders) onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until tops are dry to the touch, about 23 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through. Transfer sheets to wire racks and let cookies cool completely. (To store, keep in an airtight container, up to 3 days.)
Peanut Butter Cream Adapted from Kathleen’s Peanut Butter Icing Recipe
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Place the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth. Stores well in the fridge but spreads best at room temperature.
These cookies are not the prettiest. Or are they? At first glance they remind me of homemade purple Playdoh (which is always tempting to eat, though the grape smell unfortunately misguides the actually unsavory ball of pliable salt dough), but the more I look at them I see edible moon rocks. Maybe even robot food? They also seem prettier the more I eat them; soft, sweet butter cookies with a hint of blueberry flavor are perfect with a cup of afternoon tea.
Drawing from one of my favorites, The Minimalist and “Everything” guy Mr. Mark Bittman, I made a gluten free blueberry butter cookie recipe based on “One dough, endless cookies.” I love his approach: start with the basics, keep it pure, and create small change-ups for new big flavors. The basic recipe appears in a few of his cookbooks and also on his website here. The final intergalactic touch was a spray of Duff’s cake graffiti in metallic silver. In the future I plan to make this recipe in smaller scone-like bites, drizzled with a lemon glaze.
Gluten Free Blueberry Butter Cookies Adapted from Mark Bittman
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour (2 cups Bob’s Gluten Free Shortbread Mix)
1/4 cup blueberry powder (grind 1/2 cup freeze-dried blueberries)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup milk, plus more if needed.
1. Heat the oven to 375. Use an electric mixer to cream together the butter and sugar; add the vanilla and egg and beat until well blended.
2. Combine the flour, blueberry powder, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Add half the dry ingredients to the dough, beat for a moment, then add the milk. Beat for about 10 seconds, then add the remaining dry ingredients and a little more milk, if necessary, to make a soft dough.
3. Scoop onto parchment lined baking sheet and bake about 10 minutes. Let cool.
It all starts with a crock of split peas on Sunday and eventually evolves into my favorite silky soup by the time Tuesday rolls around. Bonus transition time snack: split pea sweet potato dip. I am convinced the in between days are what makes this soup a promisingly tasty journey from start to finish. My steps are loosely recorded below.
Day 1: Toss in a few cups of split peas, a few cups of vegetable stock, a little water, and seasonings (salt, pepper, I switch up between cumin & ground coriander) in a crock pot. Either cook on high for 2 hours or low for about 6 hours. Roast some sweet potatoes and bacon in the oven (do it together if there are no vegetarians on the premises and by all means throw in some garlic cloves): sweet potatoes tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper, sometimes cumin, and bacon sprinkled with your preferred sweet granules. Bake for 20 minutes in 350-degree oven, remove bacon, bump heat up to 400-degrees, and finish roasting sweet potatoes for an additional 15 minutes. I like to eat all of these things together with arborio rice.
Day 2: Synthesize the left over split peas and roasted sweet potatoes in your blending mechanism with the amount of olive oil necessary to achieve a spreadable or dippable consistency. Black bean chipotle chips are recommended utensils, though carrots and celery maintain their respective merits.
Day 3: Use leftover dip to create a silky soup. Thin the dip down by adding hot water or stock. Crème fraîche or sour cream also slides in a tangy edge. A bacon garnish never hurt either.