Thursday, January 26, 2012

Preserving Beauty from the Root Cellar

Recently our home has taken some pretty dramatic steps toward a hopeful more sustainable way of living out healthy food ethics. I first need to start off by sharing that these small food steps we have been making in our home haven't all been from personal convictions or a driven sense to do better by my family, although those do play into the whole of changes being made.

You know how sometimes you need a no-questions-asked sort of divine intervention that literally make you change? That's what happened here. Over the late summer and into the fall we began to discover that our Little Tomato has a sensitivity to sugar. After many a trials and errors which left her with all sorts of reactions, thank goodness - none too serious, we have officially decided to make our home a sugar-free home for a season (with the exception of all of the jams & chutneys stock piled up in the basement - those we allow ourselves to indulge & take part in although I am already beginning to plan on this summer jams looking a little different than the last).
In addition to going sugar free we decided in late December that we were also going to be much more intentional in eating only seasonal produce. I love myself a food challenge.

So here we are - three+ weeks into eating seasonally sugar-free and, I quote Jake from the other evening, "I think we should eat like this all the time." I have to say, although I do miss fulfilling my glutenous pregnancy sweet tooth, I agree. It has been such joy to make new meals, find new recipes and most importantly, taste new foods that we previously would have never had the motivation to create.
For example (!)...

This past week I was thinking through the produce & items in our home, perusing through a few of our current favorite cook books and I came across the following recipe in Recipes from the Root Cellar by Andrea Chesman.

Her index is categorized by various fruits & vegetables one would keep in their root cellar and from there she lists all recipes which include the vegetable or fruit mentioned. Having recently purchased at the farmers market a bunch of carrots that would make the most selfish rabbit sick to it's stomach, I searched the carrot section and spotted Curried Rice Salad with Mango Chutney Dressing. I dare you to find one item in the title of that recipe that doesn't make your body weak and mouth salivate.
Isn't this simply breathtaking?

Doubly impressed that not only could I use up some items from the root cellar I could also dig into some preserved mango chutney made this past spring. Two for one!

The most important reason I want to share this recipe is not only because it is the prefect demonstration of ways in which we can combine an amazing recipe with an unlikely preserve, but because this recipe is the most perfect demonstration of how beautiful this cookbook is. Truly, I have gone & used my share of recipes from various root cellar cookbooks and often find many very helpful & delightful. Andrea takes it to another level. Her ideas of various food & spice combinations are worth treasuring; her descriptions of how to best purchase, store, prepare & cook various winter vegetables it succinct & so very helpful. I especially enjoy her winter vegetable math - did you know that 1 pound of winter squash = 4 cups cubed = 3 cups diced = 1 3/4 cups pureed? I sure didn't!
Before we move on to the two recipes that made the magic happen I also wanted to share that I am not only to typically go out & buy a cookbook. We are both too short on space & flexible spending to do so. I enjoyed & used Andrea's cookbook so often though throughout the six weeks I had it checked out at the library, I decided to purchase it. I'm already full of anticipation for it's arrival!

Curried Rice Salad with Mango Chutney Dressing
With great thanks to Andrea Chesman, author of Recipes from the Root Cellar

2 cups of rice (we used whole grain rice although she suggests basmati or long-grain white rice)
2 Tbs sunflower or canola oil
1 shallot, minced
1 (1-inch) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced (I shredded ours)
2 garlic cloves, minced (I used three cloves)
4 tsp curry powder (I always encourage heaping tsp.)
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups water
2 red skinned apples, unpeeled & shredded
2 Tbs lime juice (we used lemon)
3 carrots, peeled and shredded
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (about 1 15 ounce can rinsed & drained)
1 cup whole roasted almonds (we had walnuts in the freezer & used them)

2/3 cup mango (or peach) chutney (see below)
1/4 cup lime juice
3 Tbs sunflower or canola oil
1 tsp hot pepper sauce
salt & pepper

Begin by washing your rice and hopefully ommitting those pesky rocks that so often find their way in their.

Heat the oil over medium hear in a large saucepan. Add the shallots, ginger, garlic, curry powder, garam masala and rice. Saute until the ride appears dry, about 4 minutes. Add the salt and water then reduce the heat and cook at a bentle boil, covered, until the rice is tender and water absorbed, depending on the type of rice you use this may take anywhere between 15-30+ minutes. When rice is fully cooked, fluff with a fork and let cool.

While your rice is cooking away, grate the unpeeled apples into a large bowl and toss with the lime juice. Add the cooled rice, carrots, chickpeas, and almonds - toss to mix.*

To make the dressing: combine the chutney, lime juice, oil and hot pepper sauce in a food processor or blender and process until smooth.** Season with salt & pepper and pour dressing over the salad.

*We actually kept our rice a bit warm and only mixed it with the chickpeas. We then served the rice portion (a bit warm) as a first layer of the salad, then topped it with the mixed shredded apples & carrots and finished off with a garnish of roasted walnuts & mango chutney dressing on top.

**We did not process our dressing in a food processor, only because we chunky food people - I love the big bite surprises that comes with a chunky dressing (or jam or chutney or... you get the picture). 

Next?  Stay connected for the Mango Chutney recipe shown above! 

I have to apologize the for the severe lack of snapshots missing from this post in regards to the Curried Rice Salad with Mango Chutney Dressing. I wasn't thinking at all when we were putting it together that I would write a post about it and before I knew it - the salad was devoured. I do think I may make it for my in-laws this coming weekend and will hopefully sneak in a few photos here & there to put up. No promises though - this recipe is really that good and when a recipe is good, my mind is not focused on taking photos but rather on simply eating.

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