I’ve made New Year’s resolutions to make a recipe from a different cookbook once a week for a year, but sadly, like most of my well-intended declarations, I never kept it up. There was never anything keeping me accountable. Until now. If you find I’ve skipped a week, get on me people! Beg me, berate me – kindly, though. Rudeness is unacceptable and will be met with squinty-eyed displeasure and a Delete Comment button. Playful banter is welcome. Ask if I’m okay, if I need some caffeine, or inspiration, which sometimes turns out to be the same thing…
Last week I included a recipe for Pumpkin Glory Loaf from the Flying Apron cookbook, and today I want to share another comforting fall (two words that go together so often, “comforting” and “fall”; something about the cooling weather and outbreak of sweaters that inspires people to cook again after a skimpy, too-hot-to-cook summer, perhaps) dish that stands on its own. The following is adapted from Smitten Kitchen (which I never grow tired of saying, it’s just so clever and cute). I opened the book at random, and landed on this recipe featuring root vegetables served with quinoa and a tangy dressing. I stuck with the choice, and was not disappointed. The smell of roasting vegetables, shallots, and cooking bacon filled the house with a sense of downright contentment. Smitten Kitchen doesn’t include bacon, but I had some in the fridge that we cured and smoked ourselves that is honestly better than anything you could buy, and, well….bacon! I’ll cover the bacon curing process for another time, how about?
½ cup uncooked plain quinoa, rinsed
3 small shallots
1 ½ lbs. mixed root vegetables (radishes, turnips, parsnips, beets, etc.), tiny if you can find them, scrubbed, trimmed of all but a bit of stem, and halved lengthwise
Juice of ½ lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar, plus more for finishing
2 big pinches of coarse salt
3 Tbsp. olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
To Serve (optional)
Dabs of soft goat cheese
Dollops of thick yogurt
Bacon, cooked, and crumbled
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Bring quinoa and 1 cup of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook for 10 – 15 minutes, until quinoa has absorbed water. Set aside.
While grain cooks, prepare vegetables. Peel shallots and separate cloves, if there is more than one inside. Place in medium-square of aluminum foil (perfect for that bit you washed and saved from your last pizza!), coat with a few droplets of olive oil, and wrap in foil, creating a packet. Place on rack in oven.
Coat baking sheet or roasting pan lightly with olive oil. Arrange the root vegetables in one layer, and drizzle lightly with additional olive oil. Squeeze lemon juice over vegetables. Sprinkle generously with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Add roasting pan to oven. Roast veggies for 20 minutes or so, then flip them and roast for another 10, or until tender and a bit crackly. (Larger ones might take longer to cook through.)
Remove vegetables from oven, set aside. Remove shallot packet with tongs. Carefully remove the shallots (they’ll try to slip away), and toss into blender. Blend with sherry and balsamic vinegars and 2 pinches of coarse salt and some pepper. Drizzle in olive oil. Sample vinaigrette, and adjust seasoning to taste.
Spoon three-quarters of quinoa onto a platter. Arrange roasted roots over quinoa, and sprinkle with remaining quinoa. Drizzle the entire dish with the vinaigrette. For a little extra, you can finish it with additional droplets of your balsamic. Serve with goat cheese or yogurt, if using. And to boost the flavor even more, add some cooked, crumbled bacon.
Makes 4 servings.