Here’s to BA and Dreaming: Recipes for the Week of January 23, 2012

by Julie

Right now I’m sitting at the dining room table, it’s a quarter to five and there’s a bottle of Paseo red wine open beside me; a pot of white beans simmer nearby (I can hear the lid give way just slightly as the water bubble pressure grows); the lilies from last week’s party still hold strong in their vase; and the latest issue of Bon Appetit is right next to me, open to a color photograph of cauliflower slabs resting in a rich tomato sauce and covered in an olive tapenade.

In this moment, I realize what an absolute pleasure it is to just sit and read. To indulge in glossy photographs, to skim ingredient lists from a page, and to mentally note all the delicious-looking recipes (albeit most with meat) that I will probably never get around to cooking.

As I read the latest issue of BA, I got to thinking of all the items I’d piled on my “Food To-Do” list, just within the last two days:

–Finally get around to making bitters

–Vegan, gluten-free doughnuts

–Elderberry wine

–Nut cheeses

(And how amazed was I, facing this list, to read of one regular contributor to the magazine claiming that over the years, he’s filled over 30 Composition books with just the names of restaurants he wants to try??)

The truth is, I feel like somewhat of a fraud right now, knowing that I cooked a total of ONE meal last week, on account of a crazy-busy five days at work. Most evenings, in fact, Eric (who is also sitting beside me, working on a sketch for a new ceramic sink he’s building for a client’s bathroom remodel) and I ate after 9:00, and it was Eric who did the shopping and cooking, while I slumped out of my coat and tripped out of my shoes at the front door. (That photograph above? A beautiful, spur-of-the-moment creation of Eric’s. His inspiration? The Co-op started carrying fresh lemongrass and galangal.) I suppose that, looking back on it, last week just shows me that no matter how much I might plan for things,  however much I set myself up to be completely self-sufficient, I still need help. And I need the occasional indulgence of Bon Appetit (or: insert own indulgence) to keep me dreaming, to push me out of the regular work bustle and into my creative side.

So for this week’s recipes, I raise my glass to help (thank you, Eric!) and dreams–may these recipes inspire.

Monday, January 23: Quinoa, Fennel, and Pomegranate Salad

Ingredients:

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil

2 medium fennel bulbs (2 1/2 pounds), cut lengthwise into 1/4″-thick slices

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon sugar

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

1 lemon

1 serrano chile, seeded, chopped

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 cup chopped fresh mint

1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill

1/4 cup pomegranate seeds (from 1/2 small pomegranate)

For quick help (remember, we all need it!) on how to easily take out the pomegranate’s seeds (without getting juice everywhere), click here.

Tuesday, January 24: Cauliflower Steaks with Olive Relish and Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:

1 large head of cauliflower

1/2 cup pitted oil-packed black olives, finely chopped

3 sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced

3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 garlic cloves

2 plum tomatoes, cored, quartered

Serve with white beans or over a bed of wilted spinach.

Wednesday, January 25: Black Beans with Rice and Apple Salsa

BA‘s recipe calls for chicken broth and rotisserie chicken–I give you permission to use veggie broth and skip the chicken completely–substitute avocado instead.

Ingredients:

1 cup chopped peeled Granny Smith apple

1/2 cup chopped cilantro, divided

1/3 cup finely chopped red onion, divided

1 teaspoon (or more) fresh lime juice

1/3 cup finely chopped green bell pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon ground coriander

3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds

3 cups low-salt veggie broth

3 cups black beans, cooked and rinsed

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 cups cooked brown or white rice

4–6 lime wedges

Thursday, January 26: Three-Green Soups with Spinach Gremolata

Again, feel free to use vegetable broth in lieu of the chicken stock the recipe calls for.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 small onion (about 7 oz.), thinly sliced

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 garlic cloves, 3 thinly sliced, 1 finely grated

4 cups low-salt vegetable broth

1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/2″ pieces

1/2 bunch collard greens (8 oz.), center ribs and stems removed, chopped (about 2 cups)

1 bunch Swiss chard (12 oz.), center ribs and stems removed, coarsely chopped (about 8cups)

1 5-ounce bag packaged spinach (not baby), stems removed (about 4 cups), divided

2 teaspoon (or more) fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts

Happy (help-filled) week, everyone!

 

* Three recipes photos from Bon Appetit

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