I’m not sure what it is with me and cooking gluten and/or dairy free lately, because it isn’t something that is compulsory for my health, however, I do feel pretty good when I eat this way. The last couple gluten and/or dairy free recipes that I posted have occurred by chance, and not at all through planning. Last night was one of those nights that I didn’t think I would create anything worth a damn in the kitchen, but I surprised myself. Yet again! We are nearing the end of our rations at this point and really need to get to the grocery store, but I am playing that game of trying to stretch as many meals out of what we have in the fridge. It’s quite a fun game, and something I have become pretty good at I must say. I think living on a budget has made me a better cook; a more resourceful steward, and definitely provided a stage for improvising ingredients when I need to use something up or don’t have something I want to use.
We have lots of half used veggies in our fridge right now (and of course fresh basil) that need to be used up in the next few nights. My hubby and I have been trying to incorporate more vegetarian meals into our repertoire, so last night seemed like a good night to do that especially since it was Monday… ahem… Meatless Monday 😉
As I started cooking last night the only thing I knew was that I needed to use up some broccoli, a quarter head of cauliflower, a handful of some mini bell peppers, as well as some fresh basil. Recently I was informed through my Pinterest (and namely through the blog http://www.amateurgourmet.com on behalf of the Barefoot Contessa‘s book Back to Basics) that I have been cooking broccoli wrong my ENTIRE life! How could I be so ill informed?! I’ve always pretty much just steamed or sauteed broccoli and that was the extent of it… until now. Have you ever roasted your broccoli? Well, I gotta tell you… it is AMAZING! It caramelizes it and gives it a nutty flavor that beats all other water logged broccoli you’ve ever had to date! Armed with my new found broccoli cooking method, I hit the kitchen with my remaining veggies and got to roastin’.
After I started the rice and got the veggies into the oven to roast, I figured I would just pour some balsamic vinegar over the dish and call it good… but then inspiration came over me. (cue angels singing) I recalled that I had about a half cup of blueberries in a bowl in the fridge that I had been telling myself to make a smoothie with since I made pancakes over the weekend. Aha! Blueberry balsamic reduction sauce it is! Balsamic is a great vinegar to use with fruit and it reduces beautifully to create a wonderful fruity, slightly tangy sauce. Sidenote: In addition to using balsamic in this sauce, I often times put a tsp. or so into the fruit mixture when I do fruit crisps and it turns them from great to AWESOME – it’s something in the caramelization of the fruit.
The dish ended up with a lovely mixture of sweet, tangy, nutty, roasted flavors. The sauce along with the toasted walnuts for a nutty crunch and the fresh chiffonade of basil (I love to say that word, chiffonade, but let’s be real here.. it’s just shredded). You will hardly notice that you are missing meat! But… if relinquishing your rights to meat is a big deal for you, then by all means you better cook up some chicken or salmon with this meal…I would hate to see you famish. 🙂
Servings: I made enough for 2 and some leftovers for lunch
This is one of those meals that you can estimate measurements of the veggies.
1 cup brown rice
1 3/4 cup water
pinch kosher salt
Small crown of broccoli, cut into florets and stem pieces
1/4 crown of cauliflower, cut into florets and stem pieces
1/2 bell pepper, cut in strips
3 garlic cloves, smash it open and mince it
small onion, roughly chopped
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for drizzling (couple Tbs)
Fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped and toasted
feta cheese (optional, but not dairy free)
Blueberry Balsamic Reduction Sauce
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. minced onion
1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 Tb. honey
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp. water
pinch of kosher salt
1. Prep all veggies as instructed above. Preheat oven to 425°
2. Put water and rice in pan. Place on stove on High heat. Once water starts boiling, cover and reduce heat to low and cook about 20 minutes or until rice has absorbed all liquid.
3. Place broccoli, cauliflower, bell pepper, onion, garlic in a foil lined roasting pan. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place in preheated oven and roast for about 20 minutes or until veggies have good roasted color.
4. While veggies and rice are cooking, start the Blueberry Balsamic Reduction Sauce. In a saucepan over medium heat add olive oil. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes until tender. Add blueberries and cook for 2 minutes, until skins are bursting. Add honey and balsamic vinegar and stir. Heat until mixture comes to a boil. In a glass cup, mix the cornstarch with the water and then add this into the pan. Reduce heat and cook uncovered so liquid reduces. Keep this on low while you prepare rest of meal.
5. Heat a pan on medium heat (I find a cast iron pan works well for this). Add roughly chopped walnuts to pan and toss for a few minutes until they are nice and toasted. (Make sure you keep an eye on this pan as they go from barely toasted to blackened in seconds… trust me, I know.) Take toasted nuts out of pan and set aside to cool
6. Chiffonade your basil (check out link for how to chiffonade). Once the veggies and rice are finished cooking plate on a dish and drizzle with the blueberry balsamic sauce. Garnish with chiffonade basil, toasted walnuts and (optional) feta cheese.
Enjoy! Let me know what you think of this dish!