Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Rainbow Chard and Beet Greens with Sweet Potato, Beet, and Potato, served with Brown Rice with Baby Lima Beans (almost no added fat)

My daughter and I were invited again today to be on a PCRM nutrition class streaming for free to hundreds of people. She is one of the Kids in the Kitchen who do bimonthly cooking and nutrition shows live on facebook. It was fun and, we hope, helpful.

For dinner, I prepared some greens with sweet potato, beet, and potato. I made a simple side dish with brown rice and baby lima beans. 

Late this spring it will be 22 years that I will have known my wife and I am proud that I have never repeated a dinner for her. It doesn't so much reflect on me as it does on how easy it is to be plant-based. There seem to be just so many ways to create tasty, healthy, and nice looking meals from plants!

Today I wanted to cook some root vegetables with greens. I normally like to add some legume or perhaps soy product in my main course but decided instead to simply use frozen baby lima beans and mix them in with brown rice. Incidentally, regarding rice, for years I have been simmering brown rice in a 1 part rice to 2 parts water ratio for about 50m but lately I've been soaking rice, cooking in ample water uncovered, then pouring off excess water and letting it steam, off heat but covered, for a few minutes as I've seen suggested due to possible arsenic in rice.

Here is how I made the main course:

  • 2 medium beet roots, scrubbed, skins intact, with very bottoms removed and composted and leaves rinsed and reserved
  • 1 medium Russet potato, scrubbed
  • 1 sweet potato (I used Japanese sweet potato, my favorite, but any kind is fine), scrubbed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/8 cup onion cut into approximately 1/4" cubes
  • 1 clove garlic, finely (1/8" or smaller) minced
  • Bunch of collard greens, rinsed and bottom 1/4" removed and composted, then sliced crosswise with the stem in the middle into 1" strips
  • Bunch of beet greens (I used golden beet greens but any beet or even other greens would be fine), rinsed and then carefully atop parchment paper that covered the cutting board (to avoid stains) chopped into approximately 1" squares
  • 1/2 t garlic powder
  • 1/2 t lemon pepper (or freshly ground black pepper)
  • 1/4 t salt (more or less according to preference)
  • 1/2 t finely chopped herbs like basil and/or oregano and/or sage (I use a grinder with a mix of dried herbs)
  • (optional) 1/8 t smoked paprika
  • 1t lemon or lime juice (I used fresh squeezed meyer lemon juice)
  • 1 1/4 cups carrot cut into 3/8" slices (3 small-medium carrots)
  • (Optional cheese sauce)  1/4 cup water, 3-4 T unprocessed cashews, 4 T nutritional yeast, 1/2 t garlic powder, pinch of salt
  1. I put the beet roots, sweet potato, and potato atop a trivet in my Instant Pot pressure cooker and added water (about 1/2 cup or maybe a bit more, but to stay below the level of the trivet), then pressure cooked (the Instant Pot calls this "steam" mode when the food doesn't touch the sides) for 10 minutes.
  2. While the pressure cooking was happening, I took the onion and garlic and put into a large Saladmaster stock pan; any good heavy pan would do, but I favor stainless steel. I cooked over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes.
  3. I added the greens and cooked waterlessly - i.e., I covered the pan and heated it on medium high until the vapor release started jiggling, then I reduced the heat to low till the jiggle stopped. I let it cook for about 10 minutes. (Without such a pan, I could simply have cooked on low heat, covered, and stirred occasionally.)
  4. When the pressure cooking was done, I carefully opened the Instant Pot, waiting a few minutes before gently releasing pressure and then opening the pot away from me.
  5. After a few minutes when the root vegetables were easier to handle, I roughly chopped the potato and sweet potato into approximately 3/4" cubes and added to the greens.
  6. I put the beet under cold running water and easily rubbed the skin off, then chopped (over parchment paper and with a wet paper towel handy) into 1/2" cubes after discarding the very top. I added the beet to the greens.
  7. I made the optional "cheese" sauce simply by blending the sauce ingredients and mixed the sauce into the dish.
  8. I mixed in the seasonings and lemon juice and served.

Dinner was very good. I love what a bit of lemon does to cooked beets. The greens were a good visual and texture backdrop to the root vegetables. The rice and lima beans went well together. The sauce was just a nice subtle flavor to contrast and uplift the other flavors.

Ideas for the future

I should cook with beets more often! I've enjoyed the past week or so with many beet recipes. By the way, I have several beet recipes, like bit.ly/Beets1, bit.ly/Beets2, and bit.ly/Beets3, referenced in our recipes document from the So Many Cooks in the Kitchen show from last weekend on heart-healthy recipes - there are many other recipes from other Cooks, as well as details on handling beets and a nutrition guide from my friend Brenda Davis, RD.

The dish was almost no fat but did have the cashew; each tablespoon of cashew has about 5g of fat, and this main course was more than enough to serve my family of three with some leftovers. The dish would have been fine without the "cheese" sauce but it was a nice addition.

I could have included carrots when cooking the greens as they would add nice color, nutrition, and taste. A bit more onion would also be fine.

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