Monday, November 30, 2009

Roasted root veggies and pasta? Yes indeed

I made this dish a while ago, I think it might have been a month ago or even longer, the fall was still in it's full colors and playing around with lovely colorful root veggies was just the thing to do. I roast veggies a lot, but usually to accompany a steak. I ha never thought it'd be OK to match them with pasta. Bt I decided to try and I was quite satisfied. It was filling and had the necessary elements of comfort food, but was still healthy and not insanely calorie packed.

Roasted root veggie and Mozzarella pasta (Pasta röstitud juurviljade ja mozzarellaga):

Serves 4

For the veggies:
2 small beetroots
1/2 of a big white radish
2 - 3 large carrots
a good glug of olive oil (about 2 tbsp)
a good glug of Balsamico
1 large tbsp of honey

For the pasta:
your favorite pasta shapes, I used penne
1 pack of mozzarella balls (~125 g.)
2 pots of your favorite lettuce
a large handful of pine nuts
some olive oil for drizzling
freshly ground salt, pepper and ground cumin seeds (or I used salt and Latplanta Everyday Seasoning)

Peel the veggies and cut them in sectors.
Parboil until just tendering. I boiled the beets separately as I didn't want everything to end up purple.
Heat the oil, Balsamico and the honey on low heat in a small saucepan. Swirl from time to time until combined and syrupy.
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Line an baking tray with baking paper.
Toss the veggies in the syrup until evenly coated and lay out on the baking tray.
Bake until tender and nicely brown on the outside.

While the veggies are baking, boil the pasta according to the packet instructions.
Tear up the lettuce and pile on each plate.
When the pasta and veggies are done, toss them and add some to each plate. Tear up the mozzarella balls (unless using tiny ones) and sprinkle the pasta with the mozzarella and the pine nuts. Season. Drizzle with some olive oil.

I liked it and was especially surprised how well the flavors of the roasted white radish and the mozzarella complimented each other. Initially I had thought of using some stronger tasting cheese like goat's cheese or perhaps feta, but mozzarella was the right way to go.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Another one of those nice and hearty lunch-salads

I love making these salads that are basically a main course in terms of the filling effect and the ingredients, but they still deserve the name of a salad. It just makes you feel all healthy and calorie cautious when you eat them. It actually makes you feel thinner and prettier while you eat them. And S loves them. I mean who wouldn't want to have the backbone to just have a salad for lunch or dinner instead of say meat and potatoes or a rich pasta?

A baked potato and salted peanut salad (Salat krõbekartulite ja maapähklitega):
serves 2

1 large or 2 medium potatoes
1-2 cloves of garlic
olive oil
1/2 of a long cucumber
1 red onion
a small handful of salted, roasted peanuts
1 pot of Roman lettuce
~50 g grated Parmesan

For the dressing:
1 tbsp of creamed cheese
1 tbsp of sour cream
1 tbsp of mayonnaise
1 tbsp of mustard
freshly grated black pepper
salt (if needed, taste first)

Peel and quarter the potatoes and parboiled them for about 10 min until they're not as hard anymore but not completely tender yet either.

*I happened to watch three episodes of Heston Blumenthal's "Kitchen Chemistry" on Discovery Channel last weekend, so now I'm inclined to suggest that it might be a good idea to rinse the potatoes with cold water before cooking them, then cooling them and deep frying them for 5 min's in 130 c oil and after cooling them again deep frying them again in 180 C oil until golden brown. But that's not what I did. To my excuse - I did make this salad before watching the show. But to be perfectly honest, I'm not sure if I would have found the time for the whole song and dance as lately my cooking is a contortionist's exercise of chopping, peeling, washing and at the same time minding the kid.

Preheat the oven to 200C.
Dice the pre-cooked potato wedges.
Peel and thinly chop the garlic, mix it with olive oil and then mix the potatoes in the garlicy oil so that all the pieces are coated. You can just use garlic infused olive oil for this, but I didn't have any.
Line a baking-tray with some parchment and transfer the potatoes to the paper.
Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden.

Mix all the dressing ingredients. (If you have any leftover Ceasar's dressing, that'll do fine as well).
Tear up the lettuce, slice the cucumber and the onion.
When the potatoes are done, let them cool.

Toss all of the above with 1/2 of the parmesan and the dressing. Divide between two plates, sprinkle with the peanuts and the left over Parmesan and you're good to go.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Beloved Beetroot

I assume it's become abundantly clear to anyone visiting this blog, that I have a thing for beetroot. I really really like it. And have been known to add it to everything. Stuffed paprikas. Meatballs. Muffins. Chocolate cake.
Well, I finally got around to making something that makes the beetroot itself the star of the dish - the very posh and absolutely adorable beetroot chips.
I'd been wondering about how to make them a while ago as they've been popping up in various nice dishes of different restaurants for quite some time now. Last summer my mom gave me this pocket-book sized book called "100 starters" and the chips were in ther. Pretty straight-forward to think about it. Just slice super thinly and deep fry (I' been wondering if maybe they should be slowly dried in the oven (as dried apple and pear chips are made). Maybe there are different ways to make different kinds of beetroot chips. Any experiences with that, anyone?

Anyhow, here are my beetroot chips and what I used them for.

Beetroot chips (peedikrõpsud):

1 beetroot, peeled, sliced with a vegetable peeler
a good amount of sunflower oil (~150 ml)
sea salt

Peel and slice the beetroot. Then pat the slices down with a paper towel to absorb the extra juices.
Pour the oil into a deep saucepan and heat it to 190C (a cube of white bread will turn golden brown in a minute).
Deep fry in batches and lay out on paper-towels to get rid of the extra oil.
I found that the right time to take them out is when the slices aren't covered with the tiny bubbles any more. Take them out earlier and they'll be crinkled and soggy. Take them out later and they'll have lost the lovely purple color and all of the beetroot taste and will just taste like chips.
Sprinkle with sea salt.
Serve with a dip or on a salad.

I made a side-salad for another batch of the warm honey-glazed goat's cheese toasts :

1 pot of your favorite leafy salad (I used Lollo Rosso at that particular time)
1 generous handful of pine nuts
Beetroot chips for 1/2 a beet
about 2 tbsp of leftover glaze from the goat's cheese toasts (to make new one you'll need about equal glugs of olive oil and Balsamico + 1-2 tbsp of honey, put it on medium heat and keep swirling until smooth and combined).

Tear up the salad leaves, toss with pine nuts, sprinkle with the beetroot chips, drizzle with the glaze and serve.