I try to eat as many meatless meals as I can. It’s hard; I love meat. My husband Dave is perhaps even more of a carnivore, but snarfed this down as fast as he could the other night out on the deck. In Colorado, our al fresco dinners are numbered. Within a couple of weeks, lunches outdoors will work wonderfully, but dinners will simply be too cold. In the meantime, we’re loving every meal we can get at the patio table with something fun on Pandora going and the dogs running around enjoying the breeze.
I’ve been dreaming about a gluten-free and vegan Thanksgiving dinner for the blog. Not that I truly follow either diet totally (thought I eat vegan quite a bit for health reasons); I simply want the challenge. Either direction is simpler than both together, as anyone who’s tried to make both vegan and gluten-free bread will tell you. While I’ve got several recipes in-process, I thought it might be fun to have more than one entree or main dish. As it was Dinner on the Grounds at First Congregational Church in Colorado Springs — the time when we celebrate our congregation’s giving and commitments — I made this quick brown rice and broccoli dish for the meal. While it might feel like a salad, and perhaps it technically is, I think it’s hefty enough to fill you up for days and feels more like a casserole! This recipe makes a big bowlful and is enough for 12 side servings or maybe 8 as a main dish. Even if you don’t eat gluten free or vegan, you’ll like this healthy and tasty dish. I was very sad to see there was none left to take home.
how you might change it up……
I used currants in the dish, but feel free to substitute dried cranberries for a more festive Thanksgiving table. Raisins or chopped figs or dates would be fine, too; I just like the tiny sweetness of the currants myself. There’s no garlic, though you might add some –no more than a single finely minced single clove unless you cook it with the rice. Minced celery could be an addition to increase the crunch factor. Walnuts or pecans could replace the sliced almonds; toast them in a dry skillet over low flame for 6 or 7 minutes. Could you use white rice? Sure; brown rice has more protein, though, which is a big consideration for a vegan dish. Wild rice would be glorious, I’d think. Carnivores: Throw in a couple of cups chopped chicken or leftover turkey.
This morning I’m cooking a big pot of beef-vegetable soup for Inter-Faith Hospitality Network (IHN), which is a group of local churches that houses and feeds homeless families, as well as helps them find jobs and permanent homes. I’ve been cooking these meals for many years now and not much feels better when you love to be in the kitchen like I do. Dave will go with me and we’re working with the folks from Temple Shalom. This time we have a companion dog, too; I get to bring dog treats!
CURRIED BROCCOLI-ALMOND BROWN RICE SALAD
12 side servings or 6-8 main dish servings
- 3 1/2 cups water
- 2 cups brown rice
- Extra-virgin olive oil –can sub canola oil
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 10 scallions, minced – white and green parts
- 1 1/2 – 2 pounds cooked broccoli florets
- 1 cup sliced almonds, plus extra for garnish
- Red wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup dried black currants or 1/2 cup dried cranberries, plus extra for garnish
- 1/2 – 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- Kosher salt
In a medium pot, heat water to boiling; add rice with a drizzle of olive oil and a few grinds of pepper. Lower heat to simmer, cover, and cook 45 minutes or until tender. While still hot, add 1/4 cup olive oil, the cooked broccoli, and almonds. Stir well and drizzle with 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar.
Stir in currants, curry powder (start with 1/2 teaspoon, adding more to taste), crushed red pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Mix well. Taste and readjust seasonings, including curry powder. Add an extra drizzle or two of vinegar and/or oil to moisten and season if needed. You might also want to add more almonds or currants to taste; I liked the dish garnished with extra for looks and flavor.
Serve immediately at room temperature. You can also cover the dish well, refrigerate overnight, bring to room temperature, and serve the next day. If the rice seems dry, moisten using a tablespoon or two of olive oil and stir well.
(Below: Rosie and Tucker taking a nap while I made the beef stock this morning and granddaughter Piper doing a little dance to her own beat.)
Sing a new song,
There are moments when I’m aware enough of the blessed goodness in my life. Maybe. I know not everyone has a counter full of butternut squash, apples, onions, shallots, garlic, hundreds (literally) of tiny green and red tomatoes, and Bosc pears. I know not everyone has a warm snug lying next to them come the cold, dark morning. Or a reason to get up and do something with the bounty in the kitchen downstairs. I probably don’t truly understand it, but I get it. My life hasn’t been all rose teacups and long walks along the river with the dogs.
This morning I read a post on a blog I follow (there’s a link in my blogroll at right, too).
Margaret writes daily there. It’s a prayer journal of sorts. She’s an Episcopal priest on an Indian reservation in South Dakota and life’s hard there. The loss and the poorness and the hurt are hardscabble painful and it’s her job to keep showing up for the difficult moments and beyond. Today she writes about people nearby whose babies have just died… And (having had babies who died) I understand where this is and where it goes. What I am drawn to these many years later is twofold:
1. why…if we need each other so very badly through the crazy, hilarious, dipping, winding, bottoming-out life trek, and if church is meant to provide that for us…why are so many of us no longer part of that community? Or, if we are a part, are those communities truly sustaining us? and 2. a bursting grateful noise for all I have and all those who have loved me through the nearly killing losses. I come back to the idea that to begin with thanksgiving is a perfect way to pray/live and I have to learn it all over again, all over again, all over again. Even if God isn’t a welcomed presence in your life, I think the settling of near-constant thanksgiving in our bodies is a positive way to breathe on earth.
I’m grateful to share a beautiful fall salad with you…speaking of that. I often cook on the “Meatless Monday” protocol because it’s healthy and it makes sense to me. It’s also a way to make me concentrate on most of the food on earth and, well, most of it isn’t meat.
I spent yesterday late afternoon re-testing a soup for my book (Roasted Vegetable Soup with Sage) and as I got the soup nearly finished thought to make a little salad out of what I had.
Which was beautiful Bosc pears, goat cheese leftover from a dinner for friends last Friday night (I grilled figs and filled them with goat cheese, a drizzle of honey, fresh thyme and black pepper), and some arugula. Sigh. Here’s how:
pear – grilled fig salad with goat cheese, walnuts, and arugula
serves 2 -3
- 3 cups arugula
- 2 ripe Bosc pear, cored and sliced (don’t peel)
- 2 ounces crumbled Goat cheese (leave out for vegan option)
- 1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts (just put them in a small dry skillet for a few min.)
- 4 fresh figs cut in half and briefly grilled* (or 4 chopped dried figs)
- Juice of half an orange
- 1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon walnut oil
- kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
In a medium shallow bowl, place arugula and top with pears and goat cheese. Scatter walnuts around the edges of the salad and add the figs at even intervals. Drizzle all with the juice, vinegar, and oil. Sprinkle evenly with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Place bowl on table to admire your handiwork before tossing. Serve at room temperature. (If you need to make this ahead and refrigerate, you’ll want to add the pears–which would brown otherwise– and the dressing at the last minute. It’ll taste fine cold.)
*To grill fresh figs: Lightly brush a grill, grill pan, or small skillet with a bit of olive oil. Trim stems from figs and slice in half. Place figs cut side down in pan and grill over medium heat just a couple of minutes. Turn and grill on the other side. Note: How long you grill these will depend on how ripe they are. The riper, the less grilling– If terribly ripe, don’t grill at all.
I ponder here at the idea of saying “grace.” I think grace is a difficult word to define and how it is we come to SAY it, I don’t know. We also “say a blessing.” Or “give thanks.” Or “bless the food.” Someone, somewhere I was, said a blessing I can’t forget the gist of, but can’t recall the exact words. The idea was to be grateful for the food and for the nourishment to enable us to feed those without.
I’ll think about it. (If you know that blessing, leave it in a comment.)
A thought: the blessing is also a moment to breathe in an otherwise complicated, swiftly flowing existence. To pray and– to eat– in the moment. To be truly awake and aware of what’s before us and what will sustain us. To be grateful for loving, preparing hands, the instinct to love, the time to eat, and for the abundance.
Phew. My blog is different today. Beautiful fall winds and smiles to you,
P.S. COMING TO A CHURCH NEAR YOU! (MAYBE) I think I forgot to share that our daughter Emily is officially ready to receive a call from the Presbyterian Church, USA. After over three years in seminary, she preached to the Committee on Preparation for Ministry (maybe I got that right) last Monday and they pronounced her READY.
|Speaking of being grateful|
|Slip some baguette with Gruyère under a broiler. Saute some mushrooms with garlic, shallots, herbs, broth and wine. Spoon the mushrooms over the cheese toast. Dinner is served.|
I grew up in a house that revered mushrooms. In any form, but mostly on their own. Just cooked up in a big cast-iron skillet with some garlic or onions. Eating them on their own was his favorite, but my Dad also loved them with some rice, eggs, or chicken. He’d have mushrooms any old way. As a little kid, I wasn’t buying. It didn’t take long, however, for me to jump on his bandwagon.
My first mushroom love was the famous mushroom stuffed with sausage. That gave way to (Lord) the deep-fried variety with sauce. All the while, regular old mushrooms slowly began to take part in my kitchen pageant. One day I saw that I was buying mushrooms pretty much every time I went to the store. Talking with my oldest son the other day, I woke up and realized he was talking about cooking up a big pot of mushrooms. Never know what you’ll pass on.
Mushrooms are inexpensive. They’re healthy. They’re adaptable. They’re widely available and come in many varieties. They add vegetable and “meat” value to any dish. Mushrooms are quick to prepare and can be eaten raw, fried, baked, sauteed, braised, or boiled. They’re fine on their own, as a perfect omelet filling, luscious crowded together on top a steak or piece of chicken, and they just make gravy. What’s beef burgundy without mushrooms? How about a burger? Portobellos, grilled, or sauteed, are perfect in a bun with all the fixings. I’m sure there’s more!
I don’t know a whole lot about mushroom nutrition, but here are a few things I’ve discovered: they’re full of B vitamins and lots of minerals. In a nutshell:
Mushrooms provide many of the nutritional attributes of produce, as well as attributes more commonly found in meat, beans or grains. Mushrooms are low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol-free and very low in sodium, yet they provide important nutrients, including selenium, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin D and more. Read on to discover some of nature’s hidden treasures found in mushrooms. more info: mushroom.com
BTW: If you’d like to pick wild mushrooms, be extremely careful, and get some training. Many people become seriously ill every year eating poisonous mushrooms.
|You don’t need a big herb garden. I just have a couple of fragrant pots right outside my front door. A little dirt. A little water. Not much more. In Colorado, we’re able to bring pots of herbs indoors for the winter.|
When I realized mushrooms were up next on our 39 Healthiest Ingredients, I began dreaming of cooking up a big pot of them with yummy fresh herbs, shallots, etc., and spooning that over toasted baguette pieces that were topped with Gruyère. Last night I stopped dreaming:
mushroom ragù on gruyère toast serves 4
- 8 slices baguette
- 8 thin slices Gruyère cheese
- 1 T each extra virgin olive oil and butter
- 1/4 t crushed red pepper
- 24 oz any mixed mushrooms, sliced (shitake, button, crimini, portobello)
- 2 shallots sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2T minced mixed fresh herbs (tarragon, marjoram, chives, parsley, sage, thyme are good choices) plus a little extra reserved for garnish
- 1/2 cup each chicken broth, low sodium and white wine
- 1/4 t each kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, optional
For vegan option: skip Gruyere and brush bread with olive oil before broiling. Exchange vegetable broth for chicken and either use vegan grated cheese for garnish or no cheese at all.
Want more great mushroom ideas? Check out the other beautiful 38 Healthiest Ingredient bloggers:
Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink
Anabanana – adobodownunder.blogspot.com
As we go along, I’m guessing we’ll get some other writers involved. If you’re interested in joining the gang writing each week, get in touch with Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits: Mireya@MyHealthyEatingHabits.com
Sing a new song,