Roasted Green Beans and Broccolini On a Bed of Ricotta

Roasted Green Beans and Broccolini On a Bed of Ricotta

It’s terribly difficult being a food writer who specializes in cheese. I mean, what are you supposed to do when you have copious amounts of ricotta leftover from a photo shoot? Well, in my case, I happily ate fresh strawberries, honey, and ricotta for breakfast and spread it on thick slices of olive bread with slices of tomato and a generous application of Maldon salt and freshly cracked pepper. Despite all my best efforts I still had an impressive amount of ricotta to use before it went bad (once opened, ricotta only keeps for 3-4 days before it starts to smell sour.) I was on the lookout for ricotta recipes that a) weren’t stuffed pasta and b) weren’t dessert (because I’m not a very dessert-y person.) Eventually I found this intriguing recipe for charred green beans with ricotta and lemon on Epicurius and felt inspired by the elegant simplicity of the recipe. The first time I tried this recipe (and with great success, I might add) I followed the instructions to a T and yes, it was just as gorgeous and delicious as I’d hoped. However, me being me, I wanted to fiddle around with the basics and create my own riff on this already brilliant idea (this sort of creative license is why I’m a disastrous baker.) Lo and behold, this recipe for roasted green beans and broccolini on a bed of ricotta was born. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t have a grill to fall back on but if I did I would be using it for this recipe – the slightly charred green beans and broccolini add a sweet and nutty flavour which complements the light creaminess of the ricotta*. Fortunately, a hot oven can mostly replicate this effect (albeit, without any aesthetically pleasing grill marks.) Don’t skip roasting the lemons with the green beans and broccolini, they won’t get those beautiful char marks food stylists strive for but the moderately high heat results in fat wedges of lemon with meltingly tender, almost buttery pulp. The quantities called for are open to interpretation, you can use more or less of everything depending on how many servings you need.

Ricotta

*A note on ricotta: Buy the best, full-fat ricotta you can find (remember, this doesn’t necessarily mean the most expensive ricotta you can find.) If you’re in Canada and you can find Quality Food’s Canadian Cheese Grand Prix-winning ricotta I’d highly recommend this particular brand. Another tasty option is sheep’s milk ricotta (if you can’t find it at the grocery store check out your local cheese shop or farmer’s market.) Sheep’s milk ricotta has a light, milky taste and is generally well-tolerated by people who suffer from lactose intolerances or allergies.

roasted green beans and broccolini on a bed of ricotta:

1 lb. green beans, tipped and tailed

1 lb. broccolini

2 Tbsp. + 1 Tbsp. olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly cracked pepper

2-3 lemons, halved

1 – 1 1/2 cups full-fat ricotta

Dried red chili flakes

Fresh parsley and basil, roughly chopped/torn

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°.
  2. Line 1-2 baking sheets (depending on their size) with parchment paper or a Silpat.
  3. Spread the green beans, broccolini and lemon halves (pulp side down) across the baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, gently massaging it into the vegetables. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  4. Roast the vegetables for 30-40 minutes, stirring everything two or three times as it cooks. If the green beans and broccolini look like they’re cooking in a shorter amount of time reduce the heat to 350°.
  5. While the vegetables are roasting, spread a generous layer of ricotta across the bottom of a large serving platter (or a smaller one, depending on the number of servings you end up with.)
  6. Remove the roasted vegetables from the oven and loosely pile across the surface of the ricotta, drizzling with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and any juices that may have accumulated in the baking sheet.
  7. Finish the dish by slicing the lemon halves into smaller wedges, nestling them into the ricotta with the vegetables. Sprinkle the dried chilies, fresh basil, and parsley over top before serving.

Roasted Green Beans and Broccolini On a Bed of Ricotta 2

When I was a little kid I was obsessed with Tina Turner (and Lionel Richie, but that’s another story.) I used to wear my leotard from ballet lessons and make up dances to every single song on Tina Turner’s Simply the Best album in my room with the door closed. I’m pretty sure I wore out the tape from overuse, I’d listen to it on my Walkman walking to school, mowing the lawn with a clunky old push mower, and lying in bed at night. I actually hadn’t listened to Tina in a long time, years in fact, but the other day I was trying to do some writing and I felt really stuck and (unsurprisingly) this amazing greatest hits collection saved the day! I’m choosing “Better Be Good To Me” for this post because it has an amazing video involving a werewolf-like man and a song you can strut to.

Tina Turner – Better Be Good To Me

Roasted Cauliflower and Radishes with Pickled Onions

A white casserole dish full of roasted cauliflower, radishes, pickled onions, and cilantro on a red and green striped tablecloth.

I am a HUGE fan of dinner parties featuring well, dinners, composed of lots of interesting and equally delicious dishes which are centred around a some sort of theme (which could be general or very specific, either way). In an effort to officially begin the year 2018 in An Orderly And Responsible Fashion I spent a few days last week shopping for and then cooking some dinnertime basics I could pull out of the freezer as needed, one of these recipes being a loose riff on the sesame-spiced meatballs in the first Smitten Kitchen cookbook (I say loose in that I subbed pork and beef for the turkey and added sesame oil and finely chopped cilantro). Having things like meatballs, creamy puréed chickpea soup, beef stew, and bean burritos in the freezer means that meals are considerably less likely to be sidetracked for mediocre frozen pizzas and takeout on nights when I don’t feel like cooking. I also take advantage of my beloved freezer pantry when hosting those aforementioned dinner parties, hence the appeal of sesame-spiced meatballs. The fragrant scent of cumin, sesame, and cilantro became the main theme of this particular dinner and the surrounding spread went on to include tabouleh, a tahini-yogurt-lemon dip drizzled with mustard and coriander-steeped olive oil, finely chopped cornichons, and this beauty of a dish: roasted cauliflower and radishes with pickled onions. The tanginess of the pickled onions brightens the earthy flavours of the roasted vegetables without overwhelming them and the chopped cilantro adds just the right amount of herbacious green flavour while amplifying the overall appearance of this gorgeous, couldn’t-be-simpler recipe.

A white casserole dish full of roasted cauliflower, radishes, pickled onions, and cilantro on a red and green striped tablecloth.

While I originally served this easy roasted vegetable recipe as-is, I was fortunate to have leftovers the next day which I stuffed (room-temperature) into fresh pitas topped with Greek yogurt and hot sauce.

roasted cauliflower with radishes and pickled onions:

for the pickled onions:

1/2 red onion, cut into thin strips

1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

Juice of 1 lime

In a small bowl toss the red onion with the red wine vinegar and lime juice. Let sit for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours before serving.

for the roasted cauliflower and radishes:

1 medium-sized cauliflower, cut into large bite-sized pieces

10 radishes, scrubbed and halved

Juice of 1 orange

3 Tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. cumin

2 tsp. coriander

2 tsp. sumac

1 tsp. kosher salt

Plenty of freshly cracked pepper

1 cup of cilantro, chopped

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl combine the chopped cauliflower and radishes. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the cilantro and toss to combine (I use my hands for this step).
  3. Spread the vegetables on a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes, stirring three or four times throughout so that the cauliflower and radishes brown easily.
  4. Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving dish. Top with the cilantro and stir to combine. Serve warm or cold with hummus, Greek yogurt or stuffed into pita bread.

Why yes I DO love 1980’s Joni Mitchell, thanks so much for asking (and when Peter Gabriel decides to tag along too, even moreso). I’m alone a lot during the day so I’ll listen to this album (Chalk Mark In A Rain Storm) as well as many other super-lady albums while I’m working away at my desk.

Joni Mitchell – My Secret Place

Roasted Radishes and Bacon Topped with Skyr and Scallions

A brown shallow bowl full of roasted radishes, bacon, scallions and a small tablespoon of skyr on top.

These roasted radishes with bacon taste like pirogies and the skyr is a slightly more sophisticated take on the traditional sour cream (but by no means a superior take, sour cream is equally delicious). Skyr is an Icelandic dairy product, similar to a very thick yogurt but milder and sweeter tasting than Greek yogurt. I’ve been layering it with oats, honey, and blueberries in some very twee and tiny Mason jars for portable breakfasts during the work week. When radishes are roasted in a hot oven for the better part of half an hour they become similar to crispy potatoes, with a slightly crunchier texture and the benefit of a peppery bite. If you’re like me and find that no carbohydrate is too many carbohydrates may I humbly suggest a bowl of buttered egg noodles and big bowl full of lemon drenched Swiss chard covered with generous shavings of Ricotta Salata.

roasted radishes and bacon topped with skyr and scallions:

1 lb. radishes, halved or quartered so they’re all a uniform size

3 strips of bacon, cut into thin strips

2 tsp. olive oil

3 scallions, finely snipped

A large dollop of skyr (or sour cream, or Greek yogurt)

Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Toss the radishes, bacon, and olive oil to coat on a large baking sheet. Season liberally with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast for 30-40 minutes, stirring the contents of the baking sheet once or twice – you want the contents to turn a beautiful deep golden brown.
  4. Serve piping hot, sprinkled with the sliced scallions, some additional pepper for good measure, and a dollop of skyr (or replacement of your choice).

Sunny Sunday afternoon music; a soundtrack to the sun filtering through the windows onto my navy blue couch next to a big glass of iced water, a blanket, and a book.

Real Estate – Beach Comber

 

Quinoa Salad with Roasted Vegetables and a Creamy Greek Yogurt and Orange Dressing

White dish full of quinoa and roasted vegetable salad beside a glass container containing creamy orange salad dressing.

This recipe is a testament to the infinite usefulness of leftovers; cold cooked quinoa and roasted vegetables from last night’s dinner form the framework for this hearty grain salad. I can’t think of a single vegetable that wouldn’t be a delicious addition, and for this particular version I used red onions, sweet peppers, fennel, carrots, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and mushrooms that had been roasted for 45 minutes at 375 degrees the previous evening (a massive plate of roasted vegetables on a rainy Friday night is my idea of heaven). The black sesame seeds and hemp hearts add a nutty flavour and extra texture, both could be substituted with other seeds or nuts or even omitted entirely. There’s something about the taste of fresh citrus on grain salads that I love, especially during December when all of the lovely oranges are beginning to appear at produce stands in Vancouver. I used a Cara Cara orange for this salad because I love their bitter and only slightly sweet flavour but any type would work well, including my two other favourites, clementines and blood oranges. Serve this salad at room temperature either as is, or with avocado and orange slices gently stirred in on a bed of mixed baby greens. This quinoa salad will keep in the fridge for several days and therefore makes a great portable lunch or reliable dinner at the end of a long day.

quinoa salad with roasted vegetables:

2 cups of cooked quinoa

About 2 generous cups worth of cold, leftover roasted vegetables

1 leek, the white part only cut into very thin half moons

1/2-3/4 cup of Italian parsley, finely shredded

1/4 cup of dried cranberries or cherries, minced

2 Tbsp. black sesame seeds

2 Tbsp. hemp hearts

creamy greek yogurt and orange salad dressing:

Juice and zest of 1 orange

2 Tbsp. Greek yogurt

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. sherry vinegar

1/2 tsp. garam masala

1 tsp. kosher salt

Generous pinch of freshly cracked pepper

  1. In a large salad bowl combine the quinoa, roasted vegetables, chopped leek, parsley, dried fruit, sesame seeds, and hemp hearts.
  2. Shake all of the salad dressing ingredients together in a glass jar and pour over the quinoa and roasted vegetable mixture stirring gently to cover.
  3. Allow the salad to sit for at least 15 minutes, serving at room temperature as is, garnished with orange and avocado slices, or on a large bed of mixed greens.

Hexagonal dish of quinoa salad with Christmas lights off to the side.

Of course I’m listening to A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack, good grief.

Skating – Vince Guaraldi Trio

 

Simple Roasted Vegetables and Brown Rice

Roasted Vegetables and Rice

Today was my first day back at work after being on holiday visiting my family in London, Ontario for the week and I was really feeling the adjustment tonight when I got home. It’s especially easy on nights like this to succumb to delivery, but roasted vegetables are a fast and hands off way to get dinner on the table quickly; even allowing you to have a dance party in the living room to unwind while they’re in the oven. I took one eggplant, quartered, and salted it while I cut up about half a bundle of asparagus and 2 sweet peppers. I rinsed the eggplant with cold water and patted it dry with a paper towel before cutting into a 1 inch dice. Toss all of the vegetables together in a roasting pan with a generous amount of olive oil, salt, pepper, dried oregano and dried basil. Roast at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally so that the cut vegetables surfaces are evenly browned. Once thoroughly roasted snip in about a 1/2 cup of fresh basil and a scant 1 cup of grated Reggiano (Vacche Rosa if you can find it.) Have the rice cooking alongside the vegetables and then stir in a small pat of butter before serving with extra cheese and fresh basil. Easy!

Most importantly, have a living room dance party while the roasting is occurring…

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Zero