Tag Archives: carrots

Easy Grilled Broccoli and Carrots

broccoli carrots

In a matter of a few weeks our farmers market has transformed into the vegetarian equivalent of a candy store. New leaves, baby shoots and spring bulbs are on display in miniature form as their growing season is in full force. In general, I like my veggies cooked simply, and at this time of year their freshness demands it. All that’s needed is a quick steam, saute, or a turn on the grill and you will have a simple and delicious side to any meal.

Broccoli and carrots pretty much sum up the ingredient list for this veggie side I made recently – plus a pinch salt and splash of olive oil for good measure. Everything converged on the grill, which in itself is another ingredient to the dish, adding char to complete the flavor profile. On the grill? Yes, if you are careful and lay the vegetables perpendicular to the grates to prevent them from slipping through. Better yet, if you have a cast iron skillet (which you should), preheat the skillet (or a griddle) on the grill, then sear the vegetables until they wilt and char, and you are good to go. Vegetables simply never tasted so good.

Grilled Broccolini and Carrots
Serves 4 to 6 as a simple side dish

1 pound baby broccoli (broccolini), ends trimmed
1 pound baby carrots, trimmed, halved lengthwise if thick
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Prepare a grill for direct cooking over medium-high heat. If using a skillet or griddle, preheat on the grill for 10 minutes.
2. Place the vegetables in a large bowl. Drizzle with 1 to 2 tablespoons oil – just enough to coat without soaking – and lightly season with salt, then turn to coat.
3. Lay the vegetables perpendicular to the grill grates (or spread in the skillet) and cook until bright in color, crisp-tender, and lightly charred, turning as needed, about 5 minutes, depending on thickness of the stalks.
4. Transfer to a serving bowl and season with additional salt and black pepper, if desired.  Serve warm.
5. Other options: sprinkle crushed red pepper flakes over for a nice bite and drizzle with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice before serving.

Simple Sides: Balsamic Roasted Carrots

carrots roasted tastefood

baby carrots, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, thyme sprigs, kale flowers, sea salt 

I bought a sack of tiny carrots today at the farmers market just because of how they looked. They were not your average stick straight roots, but funny finger sized squiggles with knuckles, knobs and twists – think samba dancing semicolons.  New and sweet, these little babies were the first of Spring, demanding the simplest of preparation. I decided to match their sweetness with a sprinkle of sugar, salt and splash of balsamic vinegar. A quick roast in the oven, softened them to crisp tenderness, shellacking the vinegar in a shiny caramelized coat. What you see is a mere half of my bounty, since I couldn’t stop nibbling the rest while taking the picture.

Balsamic Roasted Carrots
Try to select organic carrots, which will save you the fussy step of peeling.

Serves 4 to 6.

2 pounds organic skinny carrots, washed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Small bunch of fresh thyme sprigs
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
Sea salt flakes

Heat oven to 400° F.  Trim the ends of the carrots. Place in a large bowl. Add oil, salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Pour onto a rimmed baking sheet. Scatter the thyme sprigs over the carrots. Roast on the middle rack of oven until carrots are crisp tender, 8 to 12 minutes, depending on thickness of carrots.

Remove carrots from oven. Turn on the broiler. Drizzle the carrots with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with sugar, and jiggle the carrots around to coat. Return to top rack in  oven. Broil until slightly caramelized and golden, 1 to 2 minutes, shaking pan once or twice. Serve warm sprinkled with sea salt flakes.

Cooking for Your Health: Kale and Quinoa Salad

Kale, Quinoa, Carrots, Red Cabbage, Chickpeas, Raisins, Lemon 

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can’t eat your salad. After all, we adapt our wardrobe for the cold season, and we can do the same with our vegetables. Fresh winter salads, fortified with grains and legumes, heartily provide us with a plateful of immunity-boosting accessories to keep the the doctor away. This kale and quinoa salad is packed with healthy ingredients rich in nutrients, anti-oxidants and protein. Kale is a superfood, rich in vitamins A, C and K, high in fiber and the plant form of omega-3 fatty acids as well as cancer fighting phytonutrients. That’s a lot of nutritional heft for a member of the cabbage family. Teamed up with quinoa, an ancient grain and an amino acid-rich protein, these 2 ingredients form a powerhouse of nutrition, promoting health, clear breathing and anti-inflammation. More importantly, they taste great – especially when seasoned and tumbled with raisins, chick peas and carrots in a cumin-spiced lemon vinaigrette .

Winter Kale and Quinoa Salad with Lemon Cumin Vinaigrette 

The beauty of this salad is that its ingredients may be mixed and matched according to availability and taste. Fresh, raw spinach may be combined with or substituted for the blanched kale. If you don’t have quinoa in the pantry, then try bulgur or wheat berries. Almonds or walnuts are a delicious, nutrient-rich substitution for the chickpeas.

Serves 4-6.

For the vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the salad:
1 large bunch curly kale – (chou frisée)
2 large carrots, peeled, grated
1/4 small head of red cabbage, shredded
1 cup chick peas
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup golden raisins

Prepare the vinaigrette:
Whisk together all of the ingredients except the olive oil in a small bowl. Add oil in a steady stream, constantly whisking to emulsify. Set aside.

Prepare the salad:
Remove the tough veins from the kale leaves. Tear leaves into large pieces. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the kale leaves. Blanch until bright green but not wilted, 10-15 seconds. Drain immediately and refresh under cold water or in a bowl of ice water. Spread in one layer on a kitchen towel and blot dry. Toss kale, carrots and red cabbage together in a large bowl. Add the chickpeas, raisins and half of the quinoa. Toss with half of the vinaigrette. Transfer to a serving platter or divide among serving plates. Sprinkle with additional quinoa. Drizzle with remaining dressing to taste.

This post is the first in a series of monthly posts devoted to Cooking for Your Health. In coordination with my long-time friend, Knirke, who is a Swiss-based pilates instructor, this column will provide a monthly recipe designed to boost health in synchronization with the season and a particular health theme in Knirke’s monthly newsletter. This month, the theme is breathing. Clear and deep breathing is essential to our vitality and health, providing oxygen to our blood and brain. The foods we eat can promote or interfere with our breathing. Interfering food allergens may be wheat, dairy and red meat which produce mucus. To counter this, it’s important to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables throughout the winter. Colorful produce is a rich source of anti-oxidants and vitamins, reducing inflammation, fighting infections and boosting our immune system. And, not only are they healthy for you, they are delicious, too. So, don’t just relegate your winter vegetables to a recuperative diet – enjoy them daily!

Braised Chicken in White Wine

~ Braised Chicken in White Wine with Carrots, Mushrooms and Thyme ~

On the first day of the new year I make a stew. There are many reasons why I do this. Stews and braises are healthy and fortifying, a comforting antidote to holiday menus and festivities. Stews are reflective, incorporating humble ingredients with heat and time, yielding deeply flavorful results. Stews comfort and nourish us, while warming us on a cold winter day. This year I received a beautiful French oven for a gift, so I have another reason to make a delicious stew today.

Braised Chicken in White Wine

The chicken skin remains exposed while the chicken braises to maintain the color and crispness of its skin. Serves 4.

4 large chicken breast halves, with skin and ribs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 leeks, white parts only, thinly sliced
2 large carrots, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 pound white or cremini mushrooms, sliced 1/2-inch thick
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup dry white wine
2 to 3 cups chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Season the chicken breasts all over with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in an ovenproof pot or deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, skin side down, in batches. Cook until the skin is brown and crispy, 4 to 5 minutes, then turn the chicken and cook 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining chicken.

Drain off all but 1 tablespoon fat from the pot and add 1 tablespoon oil. Add the leeks to the pot and saute over medium heat, about 1 minute. Add the carrots, mushrooms and garlic. Saute over medium heat until the vegetables begin to soften and brighten in color, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the white wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits in pan. Add the bay leaf and thyme. Return the chicken to the pot and nestle, skin-side up, into the vegetables. Pour in enough chicken stock, without splashing the skin, to nearly cover the chicken but not submerge it. The skin should remain exposed. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Uncover pot and transfer to oven. Bake until the chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes. Serve in bowls with rice, farro or couscous.

Roasted Chicken and Vegetables with Mustard and Tarragon

There is something intrinsically satisfying about roasting a chicken. Versatile, economical, forgiving, and consistently delicious: a roast is perfect family dinner fare, and also worthy of casual entertaining. Expecting guests? Roast 2 chickens and double up on the ingredients. Variations abound.  In our case, roast chicken often involves a rub, as minimal as simply salt or more embellished with olive oil, garlic, lemon, mustard. Add an Asian twist with grated ginger, or head to north Africa with coriander and cumin. A favorite preparation is to roast the bird nestled in a pan with seasonal vegetables. As the chicken cooks, the vegetables brown and baste, adding to the flavor to the pan juices.

Roast Chicken and Spring Vegetables with Mustard and Tarragon
Serves 4-6

This recipe takes advantage of spring’s new vegetables. Feel free to mix and match with what’s available. I used thick purple spring onions, white carrots and baby turnips. Onions, fennel and potatoes are also a sure thing. For a rustic family-style presentation, return the carved chicken to the skillet in which it roasted, amidst the vegetables and pan juices.

1  3-4 pound whole chicken
Salt
Juice of one lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh tarragon sprigs, coarsely chopped, plus extra for garnish

1 pound (6-8)  baby turnips, ends trimmed, halved
1/2 pound baby carrots, ends trimmed
6-8 thick red spring onions, ends trimmed, halved crosswise

Preheat oven to 400 F. Rinse and pat dry the chicken outside and inside the cavity. Whisk lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Stir in the tarragon. Rub the 3/4 of the marinade all over the chicken – inside the cavity, outside, and between the skin and breast meat.
Place turnips, carrots and onions in a bowl. Toss with remaining marinade. Dump the vegetables into a large cast iron skillet or roasting pan. Nestle the chicken, breast-side up, in the middle of the vegetables. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove; using tongs turn chicken over, breast-side down. Return to oven and roast 20 minutes. Remove; turn chicken one more time. Continue roasting until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear when a knife is inserted in the thigh, 20-30 minutes. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and tent with foil. Let rest 15 minutes. Carve the chicken and return to the skillet with the vegetables and juices. Serve.

Spring Chicken and Vegetable Soup

Here is another soup recipe that sings spring. Spring Chicken and Vegetable Soup is filled with seasonal vegetables including green garlic. Appearing in the markets right now, green garlic is the younger rendition of the ubiquitous papery garlic bulb. Like any youngster, this version  is sassy, sharp and full of swagger. But with a little heat, all of that bravado fades away. The green garlic softens, mellows and loses its pungency, resulting in a smooth aromatic backdrop to this light and healthy soup.

Spring Chicken and Vegetable Soup

Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped green garlic, white and pale green parts
Salt
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
2 large carrots, thinly sliced
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup orzo
1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken meat (optional)
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

Heat oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add green garlic and 1 teaspoon salt. Sauté until garlic softens and its aroma loses its sharpness, 5 minutes. Add fennel and carrots and continue to sauté until the vegetables brighten in color and begin to soften, 2 minutes. Add stock, orzo and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer, partially covered until orzo is cooked through and vegetables are tender, 15 – 20 minutes. Taste for salt. Stir in chicken and parsley; continue to cook until the chicken is warmed through. Serve immediately in warm bowls.