The missus and I make a pretty good team cooking most of the time. She comes up with a hair-brained idea and then I just start throwing whatever odd-balled stuff I can think of at it until it’s tasty. So far we haven’t performed this Frankenstein monster-esque surgery on our meals to create anything inedible, and in actuality stumbled upon quite a few ‘keeper’ recipes (some of which are still making their way to the blog) that are ongoing staples in our diet now.
With the music cranked up on a Saturday evening and our best kitchen dancing shoes on we began cobbling together our half-baked concept for a meal from what we picked up at the grocery store and this dream of a meal she had partially concocted. Some of the vegetables looked better than others so they ended up in the sack; the red rice kept calling my name so it ended up with us too; and the next thing we knew there was whole pile of spices to play with spread all over the table. That’s my favorite part, the spices. I was told, “I imagine something wintry, maple syrup and cinnamon or something” so of course it meant raiding the pantry for anything and everything I could imagine and then sniffing and tasting from there…
There’s probably a dozen variants one could impart upon this recipe and still have it turn out tasty. For example the wheat berries and red rice could be swapped for brown short grain and black wild rice which is can even be found pre-mixed; the butternut squash for pumpkin or your favorite winter gourd; veggie stock for a hearty beef stock; the gorgonzola for some other pungent creamy cheese of your choice and so on; even adding roasted chestnuts (or walnuts) would be a great idea, it’s really all in what you have available.
(I totally made this up as I went along, so the measurements will not be exact, some of it’s how things taste as they combine)
Reconstitute the cranberries in equal parts of vinegar and warm water unto soft, hold the cranberries to the side, retain some of the maceration liquid
apple cider vinegar (1/2 cup), plus a few table spoons of the cranberry liquid (below)
extra virgin olive oil (1/4 cup)
maple syrup (1/4 cup)
allspice (1/4 tsp)
garlic (fresh pressed is bout 1 clove, 1/8tsp dried should work)
onion powder/dried granules (1/8tsp)
ginger (1/2″ inch fresh grated, 1/8 tsp dried should work)
dried /powdered sage (1/8tsp)
large measuring cup or small bowl
whisk or mixing fork
Combine all ingredients except the cranberries themselves into a vessel and whisk together thoroughly, then allow to stand for flavors to meld. Be sure to mix thoroughly again before using.
Remember the cranberries themselves are still held to the side.
brussel sprouts (about a 20 oz package or 15-18 heads)
small butternut squash
dried bay leaves
rice or apple cider vinegar
red long grain
olive oil (be careful with low smoke point oils that they don’t burn baking/broiling)
large mixing bowl
Preheat oven to 500
Measure out a 2:1 ratio of the wheat berries to rice separately
In the stockpot lightly toast the wheat berries over medium high heat
Add stock, rosemary and bay to the wheat berries as per package instructions – usually about a 2.25:1 ratio of stock to berries, bring to a boil, cover, reduce to a simmer
Cook the wheatberries part way, you’ll have to do some arithmetic here to determine when to add the rice. Our wheat berries say 50-60 minutes and our rice said 20-25 minutes, so about 25-30 minutes into cooking the wheat berries we added the rice, plus additional stock according to the package instructions – usually about a 2:1 ratio.
Typically, I turn off the heat early an allow the liquid to complete absorbing on its own while finishing the next part.
Once all the liquid is absorbed, fluff the rice and berries with 1/3 of the dressing and all the cranberries
Skin, de-seed and cut into bit sized cubes (1/2″) the butternut squash, toss to lightly coat in oil with salt and pepper,
Spread squash on the baking sheet and cook for between 18-20 minutes until tender and turning roasted brown
Transfer the squash to the mixing bowl
Clean the base and outer leaves of the sprouts as necessary, halve (or quarter as your preference) the sprouts, toss to lightly coat in oil with salt and pepper
Spread sprouts on the baking sheet and cook for between 18-20 minutes until tender and roasted
Transfer sprouts to the mixing bowl
Reduce the oven to 425
Remove the outer layer of the onion and rough chop toss to lightly coat in oil with salt and pepper, Spread onion on the baking sheet and cook in oven for about 15 minutes until roasted
Transfer onion to bowl
Toss all ingreds in bowl with about 1/3 of the dressing and allow to stand for a few minutes
Finishing the dish
Dark leafy green
Rough chop the greens (we used spinach, kale would be better)
combine the berries/rice mixture with the roasted and raw veggies
toss entire mixture final 1/3 of the dressing
fold in the cheese (and nuts if you included them)