The Super Bowl: Grains, Greens & Other Good Foods

winterbowlAbout this time of year I need some inspiration in the kitchen. We’ve been eating soups for several months by now, and while we love soup, I start wanting something that will still warm me to my bones but include a hint of spring. Like something with a bit of fresh kale and lemon juice and maybe a sprig of mint and a few pomegranate seeds.

And since Terrie and I just held a Moroccan Feast Cooking class last week, I just happened to have some mint and pomegranate in my refrigerator. This concoction was the perfect way to use those left-overs, to work through the squash still in our root cellar, and to satisfy my longing for something green and crunchy.

In honor of the upcoming Super Bowl (which I never watch except for maybe the commercials) I’m calling this the Super Bowl. It is full of good-for-you grains, greens, and other super foods and inspired mostly by Native Foods Cafe, one of Mark’s and my favorite places to eat out. Native Foods serves plant-based foods in every creative way imaginable. I’m always inspired and always unsure how to replicate the delicious meals I’ve eaten there. I came across a great basic bowl recipe in the Bon Appetit Magazine that sets the hearts of all home kitchen chefs free to create with abandon.

I love non-recipe recipes like that. This is one of those–my rendition of a bowl of goodness, which we’ve had twice already this week. It takes a fair bit of prep but if you make enough of each basic ingredient you can eat on it throughout the week in a variety of ways. I’ve listed steps in the order that works out best for these ingredients, but if you are cooking with ingredients that take longer to simmer (brown rice, wheat berries, barley, black beans) start these first.

The Super Bowl: Grains, Greens & Other Good Foods

1. Start Winter Squash

Peel and cut 1 winter squash into 1/2 inch cubes (butternut or hubbard) or cut a baking pumpkin into slices to roast and then peel and cube after cooking or slice and roast a Delicata squash into rounds. Spaghetti squash works, too. Cut it in half and roast and then use a fork to remove the meat into spaghetti like strands.

In all cases drizzle the squash with olive oil, and salt and pepper before roasting. Roast at 375˚ for 20 minutes or until fork tender but not mushy. Set aside.

2. Start Grains or Beans:

Rinse 1/2-1 c. mung beans (or lentils). Combine in a pan with 1-2 c. water and 1/2-1 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil, turn to simmer, and cook 20-30 minutes, until tender.

Rinse and dry roast 1/2 c-1. quinoa. Add 1-2 cup water and 1/2-1 tsp. salt. Bring to a bowl, turn to simmer and cook about 15 minutes until done. Combine with beans/lentils and set aside.

3. Prep Greens:

Slice a handful of kale leaves into thin lengths (amount depends on how many are eating this). Put in a bowl and add a splash of apple cider vinegar and squeeze a couple of times. Set aside.

4. Prep Toppings:

Pan toast 1/4 c. pine nuts. Set aside. Add 1 tsp. olive oil to pan and cook 1/4 c. sunflower seeds until brown and fragrant. Add to pine nuts and set aside.

Chop up 1/4 c. fresh mint, or cilantro, or parsley (I recommend mint with the dressing below).

If you happen to have a pomegranate on hand, put some of the seeds in a small bowl as well.

5. Prep Tofu
Heat 1-3 Tablespoons of a high heat cooking oil (I used avocado oil) and add 4-8 ounces of cubed extra firm tofu. Cook until browned on one side and then flip and cook the other side until browned. When crunchy and toasty stir in 1+ Tbsp. brewers yeast if you want to add a cheesy flavor.

6. Prep Dressing

Other dressings could work too, but this one from Bon Appetite was delicious.

Whisk together:
1/4 c. tahini
1/4 c. water
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

To Assemble (the cooked ingredients should be warm, but don’t need to be hot):

Start with the grains in the bottom of your bowl. Add a layer of kale. Then place winter squash on one side and tofu on the other. Top with the various toppings and drizzle with the dressing.

Enjoy playing with various grains, squash, toppings, dressing, and cheese/tofu/tempe options! Keep it colorful, and full of different textures and flavors.

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