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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Beating Beets

Last night was the season finale of Top Chef.  Actually, it wasn't - apparently there's another episode; but since I thought it was, I wanted to make sure I prepared some new recipes.  I didn't want to eat take out or leftovers while watching these All Stars cook food magic.  That said, it was late so I needed to make sure that whatever I made was easy.  My meal definitely did the trick.  It wasn't [literally] fresh from the sea conch ceviche or sweet potato pasta like they cooked on the show, but I was happy.

The main course was a tuna fish sandwich on toasted 12 grain bread.  I feel like everyone has a can of tuna in their pantry that never gets eaten because it doesn't seem that appetizing or exciting.  If that's how you feel then do what I did: mix the tuna with mayo and prepared pesto, pile on toast and top with cucumbers.  Suddenly, tuna doesn't seem so bad, right?  I didn't plan it, but my green sandwich worked out nicely as a little pre-St. Patty's day treat.

Side dish number one was a quinoa pilaf with corn and green onion - easy and flavorful.  Side number two was where it got interesting.  I never ate beets until I moved to NYC (the beet is not a major player in Southern cooking); but once I tried them, I realized they're not as scary as they seem.  Beets are kind of a standoffish veggie, don't you think?  Although I now eat beets, they have been strictly restaurant fare.  As scared as I originally was to eat them, I was even more terrified to cook them.  I didn't know how to cook them and had only heard terrible tales about how the bright fusha juice will stain your hands and clothes.  When I found a recipe that looked easy enough, I took a deep breath and went for it.  I peeled and chopped the beets, tossed them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted them for about 35 minutes.  When they were nice and roasted, I mixed them with scallions, lemon juice, and feta.  It was delicious!  I love a vegetable that you can really sink your teeth into and beets have that sturdy texture that makes you forget you're eating something healthy.   I was scared for absolutely no reason.  My hands were nice and pink, but all it took was one good hand washing for them to get back to normal.

For dessert I made tiny ice cream sandwiches using mini vanilla waffles (from the freezer section) instead of cookies and Ben and Jerry's Peach Cobbler ice cream as the filling (peach ice cream with cinnamon sugar shortbread pieces and a peach swirl).  Talk about the easiest dessert ever that can be quite a stunner for entertaining, especially if you dust with powdered sugar (which I did not because I was just sitting at home by myself).

No, this meal wouldn't have put me in the finale for Top Chef, but it was the perfect meal to eat while watching it.

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