Tag Archives: Roasted Vegetables

Eating the Seasons: Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes (a.k.a. Sunchokes)

13 Dec

There’s nothing like having a new food experience. When you find a new ingredient you really love, you want to eat it all day, everyday, for an entire week; you can’t get enough. You ask, “sunchokes, where have you been all my life?!?” Or at least, that’s what I did.

So yummy!

 

I was introduced to sunchokes for the first time over Thanksgiving break, when I got a chance to eat at Heartland, the new James Beard nominated restaurant in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Heartland’s philosophy is that local, sustainable ingredients make the most delicious meals, and I believed them more with every bite. Roasted sunchokes were the highlight of my dish, walleye with kale and chanterelle mushrooms in a tomato broth. They had the rich, nutty sweetness of an artichoke heart crossed with the creamy texture of roasted fingerling potatoes.  YUM!

Because they have such a similar flavor to artichokes, I was surprised to find out that sunchokes, which are also known as Jerusalem artichokes, aren’t actually related to their namesake vegetable. Sunchokes are actually a type of sunflower, and their root, which is a tuber that actually looks a lot like ginger root, is what you eat. I love the flavor you get from roasting them like a root vegetable–and I also love that, as you can see from the recipe below, it makes for a quick and easy meal–but you can also shave them very thinly and eat them raw on a salad. Best of all, sunchokes are packed with potassium (650 mg per cup) and iron, which makes them a yummy, nutritious alternative to potatoes.

Directions:

  1. Scrub the tubers and remove any black “eyes”, just like you would clean a potato. You don’t need to peel the skin off of the chokes–it contains a lot of nutrients, and has a delicious flavor and texture after you roast them.

    Don't sunchokes look just like ginger root?

  2. Slice them up into medallion-sized pieces.
  3. Place the pieces onto a roasting sheet covered with aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt, pepper, and a little garlic powder.
  4. Roast in the oven at 400°F for 15-20 minutes, or until the pieces become deliciously golden brown.
  5. Enjoy!

Easy and Healthy Friday Night Dinner: Salmon with Roasted Carrots, Sweet Potato, and Colored Cauliflower

10 Sep

Fall semester began this week, and with the first week of classes were some quick take-out meals and half dinners (nothing like a couple handfuls of Kashi cereal). As a result, tonight Trusty and I were craving a healthy, satisfying dinner, and nothing seemed to fit the bill better than a thick piece of fish and some hearty roasted vegetables. So we splurged on two pieces of wild Alaskan King Salmon and picked up some carrots, a sweet potato, and a package of colored cauliflower. Colored cauliflower, you say–what’s that?! We said the same thing. A little research revealed this information:

  • Orange cauliflower contains 25 times the level of Vitamin A in the traditional white variety. The color comes from a natural mutation originally found in cauliflowers grown in a Canadian field in the 1970s.
  • Green cauliflower has been available in the US since the early ’90s. It’s actually cross between broccoli and cauliflower (and to me tastes more like broccoli than cauliflower).
  • Purple cauliflower is caused by the presence of the antioxidant anthocyanin, which also is found in red cabbage and red wine. It has a milder taste than traditional cauliflower, but is still very creamy, sweet, and slightly nutty.

    Delicious and pretty!

The preparation for this meal is wonderfully minimal. And lucky me, Trusty did all the cooking. Basically, you cut, season, then throw everything into the oven. This makes clean-up easy too–everything is roasted on baking sheets covered in aluminum foil, so you just throw the foil away–no scrubbing involved.

Here are our cast of characters: 1 sweet potato, a package of colored cauliflower, 2 carrots, and just under 1 pound of Wild Alaskan King Salmon (not pictured: 1 lemon (he's camera shy)).

Because the veggies will need to cook longer, get them prepped and in the oven first, then prep the salmon. When the veggies have 15 minutes left to cook, slide the salmon into the oven and there will be just enough time for it to cook, then rest, before the veggies finish up and it’s time to eat!

yum yum yum

To prepare the vegetables:

  • First, wash your veggies! Pre-heat the oven to 400°F.
  • Slice the carrots and sweet potato into wedges–either quartered or halved depending on the thickness. If you didn’t buy pre-sliced cauliflower, cut it up into florets.
  • Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil. This makes for really easy clean-up.
  • Place the carrot and sweet potato wedges on one baking sheet, and the cauliflower on another (this is because the cauliflower take a little longer to cook, so they need their own tray). Drizzle a little olive oil (about 2 tablespoons) and sprinkle salt and pepper over both trays of veggies.  Then, sprinkle some garlic powder over the cauliflower, and some chili powder over the carrots and sweet potatoes (this is only personal preference!).
  • Put both trays in the oven. Sweet potatoes and carrots will need about 30-35 minutes, and the cauliflower will need  about 40 minutes.

To prepare the salmon:

  • Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and add a dab of olive oil to the spot where you’ll place the fish fillets (this will make it easier to remove them).
  • Sprinkle salt, pepper, chili powder, and garlic powder on the salmon fillets. Slice up a lemon and add some slices on top.

    Cooking salmon in the oven is my favorite way to prepare it, or almost any kind of fish. It's hands-off and fool-proof, as long as you take the salmon out of the oven when the fat begins to appear. In my opinion it's the best way to keep a piece of fish moist, flakey, and flavorful.

  • Put into the oven (preheated to 400°F) for around 10 minutes (these were thicker pieces of salmon–about 1.5 inches–if you have a thinner fillet, you won’t need as much time).  When the fat/protein begins rising to the surface/sides of the fillet (it’s a whitish liquid), remove the fish from the oven and let it rest for 3-5 minutes.

Enjoy!

Look how pink and moist that fish is--YUM! King Salmon is especially delicious because it has a higher oil content, which gives it a rich (but not fishy) flavor and firm meat.

Roasted Vegetables from the St. Paul Farmer’s Market

24 Jul

I’m back in the Twin Cities for the weekend and I brought my A-Game.

We started the day with brunch at  Meritage (check out the review)–their Eggs Benedict is for those who do not mess around. Then, after fueling up on hollandaise (the true breakfast of champs) we headed over to the  St. Paul Farmer’s Market.

The market isn’t large, but it has nearly everything you’d be looking for at fantastic prices–fresh fruits and veggies, breads and pastries, meats (cured, smoked, and fresh), cheeses, flowers, plants and herbs, honey, some handmade crafts, soaps and clothes, and more.  Most importantly, it has in abundance what makes a farmer’s market fun to visit: that great sense of community. It’s so rewarding to support local farms and families and know that the food you’re getting is really as fresh as it comes.

Here’s the breakdown:

I was surprised by the selection of potted flowers and plants. These annuals were $2 for one, $11 for 6, or $18 for a dozen.

Great for the garden.

I wanted to take home this lavender plant–it smelled heavenly.

There were also lots of lovely, reasonably priced flower bouquets for $5–quite a deal. But, if you want to beat that price, do your shopping at the farmer’s market at the end of the day–then, they’re an even better deal at $3-$4.  When you’re selecting your bouquet, look for a bunch that has lots of unopened buds in it. That way, you’ll get the most mileage for your flower money.

Great deal.

We decided to make some roasted vegetables for dinner, so we started collecting ingredients, beginning with eggplant, $3 for a carton of 4.

Next we picked up some carrots, a bunch cost $3:

Beets were next on the list. They’re delicious when roasted because their natural sweetness becomes caramelized. We found some yellow and red ones, $3 bought a bunch.

When you're looking for beets, get a bunch that are smaller in size--they'll be sweeter!

We picked up some yellow and purple onions, and then discovered some unusual, multi-colored Swiss Chard in red, purple, and yellow. I had never come across these before–I’m wondering if they’re sweeter than the standard variety–has anyone used them in a recipe? If so, I’d love to get some tips! Though they didn’t make it into our pot of roasted vegetables, I picked some up to experiment with later. Aren’t they pretty?
While we browsed around, we came across a couple of stands with some great samples. The one that stands out in my mind was the River Chocolate Company, which had some of the best caramel sauce I’ve ever tasted:

Dangerously good!

If you get a chance to go to the St. Paul Farmer’s Market, be sure to check them out! I really regret not buying a bottle. The flaw in my thinking was that the caramel sauce would counteract the healthy veggie dinner we had planned. But, I realize now that I failed to remember the nutritional value of caramel sauce…when you eat it with a sliced apple…or a bag of fiber-fortified pretzels…or a spoon…   Well, I’ll just have to make it my excuse to come back soon.

It’s now a few hours later and our roasted veggies are looking great. With a piece of fish or a marinated steak they’ll make a fantastic meal that’s fairly inexpensive–we got all these vegetables for less than $20. Plus, it’s so easy and quick to prepare. Just wash the vegetables, halve or quarter them (I like these larger pieces–they’re more “rustic,” as my inner foodie snob would say!), throw the whole batch into a big roasting pan, and drizzle with olive oil. If you like, you can throw in some garlic cloves and herbs, like rosemary, maybe. But, I have to say, the flavor of the roasted veggies–especially when they’re fresh from the farm–is so incredible that all you need is some salt and pepper.

Enjoy!