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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Meredith’s orange lunch


a good lunch eater

The other day when Dan dropped Meredith off at pre-school, Meredith’s wonderful teacher, Carol, told him that she wanted to learn how to cook more vegetarian food. I sent one of my farmers’ market cookbooks with him when he went to pick up Meredith that afternoon; the book is loaded with delicious vegetable recipes, and I thought it would give her some good ideas. But she said she already had a copy of the cookbook. She said that the reason she wanted to try more vegetable recipes was that Meredith’s lunches always look delicious—and Meredith loves them! I don’t know when I’ve gotten such a nice compliment! Admittedly, Meredith has been a good eater since she emerged from the womb—we’ve been lucky—but I do make an effort to make Meredith’s lunch yummy and full of vegetables! How nice that Carol noticed! 

So…  the other day I was packing up Meredith’s lunch with various vegetable leftovers from the fridge (my usual strategy) and realized that everything I was packing in the little plastic tubs was orange! Sweet potatoes, carrots & mint salad, and even a little piece of baked squash. I had to add some sliced oranges, of course, to round it out and be completely orange.  It looked so fun I ate the same thing for lunch! And I sent an extra container of the carrot-mint salad for Carol, as well. February just seems like a good time to be eating orange things. If we can’t get much sunshine, eating that vibrant color will just have to do!

soy-glazed yams or sweet potatoes

This recipe is another winner based on one from Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors, but I’m using the cold-oven-start method from the Cooks Illustrated recipe for roasted yams or sweet potatoes.

3 large yams or sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon roasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons mirin (Japanese rice wine)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons soy sauce
¼ cup water
for garnish: 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted in a skillet until golden brown (optional, but nice)

1. Scrub the yams/sweet potatoes and cut them lengthwise into quarters. Place them in a greased baking sheet or baking dish large enough to hold them in a single layer.
2. Combine the rest of the ingredients except the sesame seeds. Brush all of the resulting sauce over the yams/sweet potatoes, then cover the dish tightly with foil. Place in a COLD oven, and turn the oven to 400 degrees.
3. Bake until nearly tender; this will probably take at least an hour. Remove the foil, baste the yams/sweet potatoes with their juices, and return to the oven until the liquid has reduced to a glaze and the potatoes are fully tender, 15 to 2o minutes longer. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

carrot & mint salad with currants

This recipe looks so pretty, and tastes AMAZING, even though it’s very simple. Just go ahead and make a double batch—it keeps fine in the fridge for a couple of days. You might be making this every week, just wait and see. This isn’t one of those recipes that you can skip the mint, though. It’s definitely mandatory. The recipe is based on one from Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast.

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1-2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives (or scallion greens)
coarse sea salt or kosher salt
1 pound carrots, peeled (if the peels are tough) and grated
¼ cup dried currants

1. Steam the currants over boiling water for 5 minutes.
2. In a salad bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, oil, mint, chives, and ½ teaspoon of salt. Add the carrots and currants and toss well.
3. Add more salt to taste. If the carrots weren’t very sweet to begin with, feel free to add a drizzle of maple syrup, honey, or sugar to bring the carrot flavors up and make the mint sparkle.

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