Golden Beet, Fennel and Chickpeas Over Quinoa

I’ve known that there are a ton of fellow amateur food bloggers just like me all over the web, but actually getting out there and finding the ones that really appeal to me has always seemed like such a daunting task.  That is, up until a few days ago when I came across the website thekitchn.com where upon a little browsing I found a list of the nominees for Best Recipe Blogs of 2012.  Holy hell I am obsessed.  I literally cannot stop looking at all the other food blogs on this list.  It seems like every two seconds I find a new way of using an ingredient that I never thought of, or a technique or type of dish that makes me want to try my own spin on.

There are a few key themes running through many of these the blogs that appeal to me.  For example, pickling.  There are also some ingredients that keep popping up all over the place.  For instance, fennel.  Similarly, it seems like one of the most commonly utilized vegetables these days is the beet.  Just today at Gwyn’s High Alpine (the restaurant I work at) the special appetizer was a Roasted Tomato and Beet Napoleon with Basil Goat Cheese, an Avocado Vinaigrette and  Balsamic Drizzle.  Yum.

What I love about the beet is it’s versatility as well as the fact that you can cook with the greens as well.  Beet adds a sweet component to any dish without overpowering the other ingredients.

Golden Beet, Fennel and Chickpeas over Quinoa

Ingredients:

  • Half an onion, coarsely chopped
  • A few cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 or 4 golden beets (regular red beets can be used as well), chopped in one inch cubes and roughly de-skinned
  • Greens of 3 or 4 beets, stems removed and coarsely chopped
  • Half a bulb of fennel, coarsely chopped
  • One can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed
  • Half a jalapeno, seeds removed, minced
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Teaspoon ground cumin
  • Half teaspoon turmeric
  • Half cup of quinoa
  • One cup water
  • Drizzle of olive oil, for sauteing
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add beets.  Boil for 15-20 minutes, just until beets are tender then strain.  Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a saute pan on medium-high.  Add onions and fennel, stirring frequently.  Add water to prevent burning.  Saute until onions start to become translucent, five or ten minutes, then add garlic, beets, beet greens, and jalapeno.  Saute for ten or more minutes until the fennel is cooked through and the beet greens are wilted.

At this point in a separate pot you will add the quinoa to one cup of water and heat to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for fifteen minutes.  Simultaneously you will add chickpeas, lemon zest, lemon juice, cumin and turmeric to the beet mix.  Feel free to add a bit of water periodically to prevent burning, and also to get desired consistency for saute.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve sauteed veggies on top of the quinoa.

See those crunchy looking garnishes up there?  Those are actually beet chips.  Pretty basic, really.  I just reserved one of the four beets and sliced it very thinly horizontally.  This is where a mandolin would have come in handy tonight.  Regardless, I have a great knife that can do a fine job slicing thinly.  I then coated the slices in olive oil, salt and pepper and baked for about 15-20 minutes while I was sauteing the rest of the veggies.  I recommend baking them at a lower temperature, about 350 or so, for longer so as to prevent burning.  The chips crisp up as they cool down.  They were awesome as a garnish, but I’d guess they’d be a perfect snack food as well.

My inspiration for this meal: The Kitchn, Couscous with Chickpeas, Fennel and Citrus

Lastly, I reserved half a bulb of fennel to try out this awesome looking pickling recipe I found on another food blog, Food in Jars.

Quick Pickled Fennel with Orange

Ingredients:

  • Fennel, thinly sliced (preferably with a mandolin but if you don’t have one then as thinly as possible)
  • Orange wedges
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • Apple cider vinegar

Coat thinly sliced fennel pieces in sea salt and allow to sit for an hour.  Drain the liquid that is extracted from the fennel and combine fennel pieces with coarsely ground pepper and the orange wedges.  If there is extra juice from the orange that can be combined with the fennel mix as well.  Place orange fennel mix in jar, fill with the vinegar, seal and refrigerate.   It is best after 24 hours.

Source: Food In Jars 

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