Monday, April 07, 2014

Golden Beet, Sweet Potato, and Roasted Green Pepper with Quinoa; Tempeh with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce served with Hemp Seed; and Mixed Greens (Almost No Added Fat)

We had been enjoying my favorite local event the past four days, the country's biggest documentary film festival, Full Frame. Other than a quick and easy vegan macaroni and cheese dinner that I made for my daughter and me on Thursday night, we had been eating out in the short gaps of our viewing schedules.

Now, we're a bit low on ingredients and need soon to shop again. I found two golden beets in the refrigerator and decided to work with them. I came up with a main dish with the beets, sweet potato, and bell pepper with raw quinoa added in the last 10 minutes or so. I also made a side dish of tempeh. Here is what I did.

Golden Beet, Sweet Potato, and Roasted Green Pepper with Quinoa

  • Two golden beet roots (I didn't have the greens; greens are actually even more nutritious than the beet roots, and can be eaten raw or briefly cooked even with the roots), peeled and diced into approximately 1/2" cubes
  • One medium sweet potato also peeled and diced into approximately 1/2" cubes
  • 1/3 medium yellow onion cut into 3/8" cubes
  • Medium green bell pepper
  • Approximately 3/4 cup of quinoa
  • (Optional) Vegan bouillon cube; I use Rapunzel's no-salt-added cubes
  • Approximately 2 tablespoons of finely (1/8" - 1/4") chopped yellow onion
  • Dash of salt, to taste

  1. In an uncovered medium stock pot, I brought about 4 or 5 cups of water to a boil then added the beet and sweet potato cubes and cooked over medium heat.
  2. About 3 or 4 minutes later, I added the first batch of onion.
  3. While the beet and sweet potato cooked, I roasted and chopped the bell pepper:
    1. I rinsed the bell pepper and then put it on my gas range. I turned the range on to flame roast the pepper, turning the pepper to a "green" side as it charred. After a few minutes, I had a mostly black bell pepper.
    2. I put the pepper in a brown paper bag and crumbled the bag closed. I let the pepper sit in the bag for 10 minutes or so, so that the smoke flavor could be nicely absorbed.
    3. I took the pepper out and, under cold running water, gently rubbed it to remove most of the charred skin.
    4. I cut the pepper open, removed the seeds, stem, and membrane, then chopped into approximately 1/2" - 3/4" cubes.
  4. Cut so small, both the sweet potato and beet cook pretty quickly. Once they were just tender to gentle fork pressure (about 10 minutes total), I stirred in the bell pepper cubes, quinoa, and bouillon cube.
  5. I continued to cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes, then turned the heat off, covered the pan, and let it sit for about 6-10 minutes till the moisture was absorbed by the quinoa and the quinoa showed its characteristic spiral shape, indicating doneness.
  6. I mixed in the second batch of onion and salt, then served. Ideally, a bit of jerk seasoning would have been nice to add, too, but I knew that would cause my preschooler not to eat the dish. Instead, my wife and I added hot sauce at the table.

I was very pleased and we all enjoyed the dish. This has a lot of potential; I may include this or some version of it in our annual Thanksgiving feast. The subtle color and muted but yet distinct flavor makes this consonant with a variety of side dishes. I liked the texture, as well.

I was happy that all the cooking liquid was absorbed. Sometimes when I boil beets, I save the boiling water and drink it for its nutrition, but it was all kept in the dish. Yay!

Ideas for the future

Jalapeno or jerk seasoning would go well, and best be added near the end of the cooking. A little bit of potato added at the beginning with the sweet potato and beet would add a welcome additional crunch and consistent subordinate flavor. From an aesthetic presentation perspective, I would use a red bell pepper instead of a green one - but the fresh roasted flavor was certainly nice. It's already a nutritious dish, but a bit of lentil added at the beginning would boost the nutrition even more and add some nice texture and flavor. A little garlic added with the quinoa could be nice. This is a winning dish that can be modified and customized!

Tempeh with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

  • Approximately 4 ounces of tempeh cut into approximately 1/4" slices
  • (Optional) 1 or 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-4 ounces roasted and diced tomato (more or less depending on how moist you want the dish to be; I used about 4 ounces)
  • About six fresh basil leaves, chopped finely; I didn't have them, so used a teaspoon of frozen basil (when basil isn't in season, I like to keep in stock frozen basil cubes)
  • Dash of salt, to taste
  • (Optional) 2 teaspoons hemp seed

  1. Since I've been teaching Food for Life classes the last year and a half or so, I rarely use oil in my cooking. However, I haven't found an effective way to brown to a crispy texture either tempeh or seitan. I still usually cook these without oil, but once in a while I use oil very sparingly with them. Today, I put a small amount, 1 or 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil (which amounts to 4.5 or 9 grams of fat) in a cast iron pan, heated up over medium heat, and put the tempeh in, cooking each side to a light brown. I was originally going to serve browned tempeh on the side, but as I was cooking, I decided to serve it with a tomato sauce; given that, the tempeh would have been just as good without the oil, so I regret using the oil. Even still, I made enough for three servings, so that's about 3 grams of fat per serving, which is very reasonable.
  2. When the tempeh was browned, I transferred it to a small sauce pan and mixed in the tomato, frozen basil cube, and salt, and simmered on low heat for 10 minutes or so, slightly reducing the tomato.
  3. I served with hemp seed sprinkled atop the dish.

This, too, came out well. It was a nice variation on simple sautéed tempeh.

Ideas for the future

Certainly, especially given that the tempeh was served with a sauce, oil wasn't needed, so I would do a no fat added saute of the tempeh. A little bit of vegan parmesan (blend equal parts of almonds and nutritional yeast, then add salt to taste) would be good on top of the dish, as well as a basil leaf.


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