A colorful plate: Polenta, beets, and seeded bread that are ridiculously delicious and great for your body
Eat this color
A simple rule of thumb to know whether you're eating healthy: Put color on your plate. (No, Neapolitan ice cream doesn't count. But, hey, every once in a while, a scoop in a bowl is good.)
The reason is simple: Food with color tends to have lots of great chemistry your body craves and needs to keep you strong.
So, purple beets, yellow polenta, seeds in a freshly-baked loaf of bread looking all pretty ... you know this is a party in the mouth and a honeymoon for your cells. Cue up your favorite 80's dance music and let's get it going!
It occurred to me when putting together your current Recipe of the Week that the gorgeous purple of beets, combined with its subtle sweetness and awesome chew, could substitute for the potatoes in our smashed-up-little-round-new-potato recipe.
So I experimented. Whew, did I experiment.
The secret? To be able to smash them, you gotta get them tender first. Dig it? Because when you put a cookie sheet on these tender purple beauties and press down, you'll be able to get them crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and sweet, and gorgeous.
And the results: Crazy good. Crispy, smashed, and otherwise delicious beets.
Herewith, I submit to you a recipe that people will talk about. And, frankly, isn't that what we're doing together, my people, giving them something to talk about?
- 6-8 whole ruby beets, trimmed, but the root end should stay intact. That will prove handy later.
- 6 ounces goats cheese
- Zest and juice from one lemon
- 3 tablespoons coarselychopped flat leaf (Italian) parsley
- Scrub those little gems under cool water and trim the hairy bits. Ain’t nature funny?
- In your large EuroCAST Dutch oven, add the beets then fill with water to just cover them.
- Add in 2 Tablespoons water
- Over medium heat bring the water to a boil and then reduce to a low simmer for 45 minutes. (You could go start the bread now if you felt so inclined. And I hope you do feel so inclined because that bread, oh, so delicious.) The beets need to be tender. Really tender -- did I mention super-tender? -- before you'll even be able to smash them.
- Once they’ve reached their tender quotient, drain them and let them dry out.
- On your EuroCAST griddle, place each beet side by side.
- Cover the beets with a piece of parchment or wax paper.
- With another large cookie sheet on top, press the beets to smooooosh them. (See? Recipe of the Week is tasty and fun.) Don’t worry if they don’t spread out completely, they’ll break open enough to get the edges crisp.
- Drizzle 3 tablespoons olive oil on top, then sprinkle with salt and pepper
- Cook on the stovetop on each side over medium heat until they get crisp and browned, about 3-4 minutes per side.
- Remove from heat and let cool a bit.
- Add the juice and zest from the lemon, top with crumbled goat cheese, and then finish with the flat leaf parsley. And ... I add a little more black pepper cause I’m spicy that way.
Have at it!
Oh, and if you're doing the full menu, this looks gorgeous next to your polenta. And have it with your bread -- warm out of the oven, or toasted up. With butter.
Creamy polenta with fresh corn and a forest of foraged mushrooms
Let's jump onto this dance floor. This one has three steps: Make the mushrooms; sauté some special add-ins; and then assemble into your polenta.
I love all kinds of mushrooms. Tiny. Big, Sweet. Dramatic. Mild, rich. Whatever. Gimme.
This recipe is great with the sturdier versions. Criminis, portobellos, button, shiitakes, chanterelles -- these all are superstars in my kitchen and are perfect for this dish. And don't just pick one! It's a party, remember.
For the mushrooms
You’ll need about 20 ounces but adjust to your affinity for flavors dark and dirty.
In your EuroCAST skillet:
- Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil
- Add torn -- not chopped -- mushrooms. The smaller ones I would leave whole.
- Sauté in the olive oil and add a pinch or two of salt (to bring out the moisture which helps them cook in the skillet)
- They will begin to soften and moisten quite quickly. You want them cooked through but also still toothsome (al dente), about 4-6 minutes
- Cover and set aside. You'll need them later.
For the polenta
This creamy, wholesome comfort food can take on a myriad of disguises. It pairs well with mushrooms -- a combination that's sort of like traipsing through an old-growth forest in Northern Italy. (Google that.) Not a bad thing to dream about.
- Kosher salt
- 1-1/2 cups course polenta or corn grits
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- Fresh black pepper
- Corn kernels from two ears of corn, as fresh as possible. Or, a great alternative is frozen corn, about 1-1/2 cups. Frozen corn gets that way often when the corn is at its peak. Delicious and easy to have on hand.
In your EuroCAST sauté pan:
- Sauté the corn in 2 tablespoons unsalted butter until golden and fragrant
- Add 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and black pepper
- Add 1/2 cup fresh chives snipped at 1/2 inch
- Add 1/4 red onion finely diced
- You could optionally add some diced Serrano peppers, if the idea of polenta with mushrooms just doesn't frisk you up quite enough.
Now that you have some of the special add-ins ready, you can make the polenta.
- Bring 6 cups salted water to a boil in your large EuroCAST sauce or soup pot.
- Whisking constantly, add the polenta in a steady, slow stream.
- When you've put all the polenta in the water, reduce heat to low. ,
- Cook, whisking constantly until polenta is tender and creamy, 20-25 minutes.
- If polenta becomes too thick too soon, loosen by adding a bit more water, 1/4 cup at a time and continue cooking.
- When it's close to looking done, add butter and Parmesan and whisk until melted.
- Taste. Season with salt and pepper. (Remember, you've got some salt in there already from the water.)
- Onto a large flat platter, pour the polenta to make the first, bottom layer. It should spread itself just fine, but if it's a bit thick, have a spatula handy.
- Add the sautéed corn evenly next to make a second layer.
- Add the mushrooms, garlic and some of reserved mushroom juices and butter.
- Top with remaining Parmesan, snipped chives. and diced red onion (and, if you opted for a bit of heat, those Serranos!)
When you're presenting, you can drizzle some olive oil on top. Something high quality, great flavor, good color.
Seeded savory quick bread
Every day, I produce recipes for the EuroCAST Instagram feed, and every week, I do these recipes for you, our beloved subscriber. And in that process, I'm always thinking about what will be delicious, good for you, and gorgeous.
And ... I also think a lot about texture.
Polenta is soft, so I added a little bit to it for more texture. And yet my instincts tell me that a good, quick bread would add even more delight. And of course, I have to make it pretty, tasty, and gorgeous.
- 3 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons sunflower seeds, toasted in a dry EuroCAST skillet, over medium heat. Toss those nuts a couple of minutes.
- Remove seeds from heat completely by pouring them into a clean bowl. Don't leave them in the pan or they will overcook, and either turn bitter, or burn, and no one wants that. No one.
- 1/2 cup black or blond sesame seeds plus 1 teaspoon (reserve that for later "bam!", as Chef Emeril would say)
- 4 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon caraway seeds (that extra for, you guessed it, "bam!"
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or Aleppo flakes -- my favorite, really, more so that lots of other things you might think I'd love more, but no)
- 1-1/2 cup coarsely-chopped pitted dates
Mix well to incorporate.
- 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature and
- 1 cup whole milk, room temperature
- 3 tablespoons honey
Mix well to incorporate.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones. Mix to incorporate.
- Pour combined ingredients into a 9x5 inch loaf pan lined with oiled parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch over hang.
- Smooth top with an offset knife or a spatula (because we use EuroCAST we have a bunch of silicone ones at hand -- these are good for spreading sticky ingredients)
- It's bammer-time, with apologies to Emeril: Add the remaining nuts/seeds on top.
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Let come to room temperature, then lift out from the parchment paper. Aren't you happy you oiled it.