Before getting to today’s wonderfully nourishing winter bowl with chipotle-maple roast acorn squash and a rainbow of fresh vegetables (a brown rice recipe), I need to take a minute to acknowledge this:
The sun is shining.
The sun is shining!!!!!
It’s a gorgeous day here in Napa. The kind of day that makes you smile, take a deep breath, look at your dachshunds, and say (in a very deep and forbidding voice with a dreadful and somewhat vaguely British accent)…
“Summer is coming.”
There are about a hundred robins surrounding my house, picking seeds or berries (or bugs?) off of the trees, bushes, raised beds, and ground and I’ve seen more than a couple of hummingbirds zipping back and forth between the giant lemon tree in the yard just behind ours and the bottle brush tree between our house and our next-door neighbor’s. It’s kind of magical. One of my cats is transfixed; eyes wide, body low to the ground, tail vibrating with the anticipation of a mouthful of fresh bird blood and feathers. (She’s still pissed about the bell I stuck on her collar…)Summer is coming. Click To Tweet
Today is a perfect day for a nourishing winter bowl with healthy and seasonal ingredients like kale, chard, cabbage, and squash, but with a bright rainbow of neon colors that absolutely sing in the sunlight. (I’ve been totally inspired lately when it comes to power bowls and rice bowls! Check out the Rainbow Power Bowl with Quinoa, Chia, and Turmeric-Yogurt and the Tropical Coconut, Citrus, and Avocado Forbidden Rice Bowl! Oh, there’s also the Black Beans, Harissa Rice, and an Egg that wound up being a pretty tasty rice bow.) This bowl is so good for you, it practically qualifies as a healthy salad recipe! This is a brown rice recipe simply because the rice makes for a simple and healthy whole-grain base, and I went ahead and tossed the rice with a little shallot-dijon vinaigrette to make the flavor zippy and bright. My acorn squash has been hanging out in the garage since I harvested it, which is why the skin looks a lot more orange than it normally does. When I picked it off the vine, it was that typical dark green, but it’s a rusty orange now. The flavor is still phenomenal! I roast it with chipotle powder and maple syrup, but if you don’t have chipotle powder on hand, feel free to use regular chili powder or even cayenne. I kept the greens and vegetables simple and fresh, tossing them with a little salt, lemon juice, and olive oil, but you could use more of the vinaigrette if you want! (In all honesty, my choice was based at least as much on how it looked in the picture as it was based on flavor.) Trouble finding rainbow carrots or kale? Regular carrots and spinach would be totally tasty in this winter bowl.
For the beet chips in the picture for this winter bowl, I did fry them, and I also made sure they were all perfect little circles by slicing the beets very thinly on a mandolin and then punching them out with a tiny ring cutter (basically a cookie cutter). You don’t need to do that! Go ahead and peel the beets (you can skip that step if you’re punching them out), and then just slice them in rings. Baby beets will give you nice little chips, or you can cut large beets into smaller pieces. Triangles would totally look good here! If you want to stay healthy, you could bake the beet chips. Toss the slices with a little oil, salt, and pepper, and then spread them out in a single layer and bake them until they’re crisp. 250° for an hour or two will work well. It’s even better if you spread them out on a wire rack while you’re baking them. That will allow the air to circulate and the beets to get even more crispy.
I’ve covered cooking brown rice in another brown rice recipe, and have also talked about toasting sesame seeds before, but that’s really simple. Warm a saute pan, add your sesame seeds, and toast, stirring fairly frequently until your seeds are almost golden. Immediately remove them from the pan, or they’ll keep cooking way past where you want them to be!
Julienning carrots has been covered before as well, like in the rainbow power bowl recipe, but it’s really easy: thinly slice carrots with a knife or on a mandolin (or even with a vegetable peeler!), stack them up, and then cut them into thin ribbons. Really, much of what fancier cooking often tends to be is just a matter of becoming comfortable with a few basic techniques, and then using those techniques in fun and creative ways!...cooking often tends to be a matter of becoming comfortable with a few basic techniques... Click To Tweet
Here’s a couple of pictures of julienning radishes using the same technique:
As I’ve mentioned in the salmon tartare recipe, the tamale recipe, and the baked sweet potato fries recipe, I love to use micro greens (or baby greens) in my dishes because A: the flavor is wonderful and delicate, B: these little guys are packed with nutrition, and mostly because C: I’m growing these foods from seed and need to thin them out so that strong and healthy plants can grow! I can’t bear the thought of just tossing those adorable little guys, plus they’re gorgeous, so they wind up in nearly every dish I make over here. It’s totally okay if you don’t have access to micro greens; use the adult versions! It’s all about flavors that make sense, not random little pretty things.It's all about flavors that make sense, not random little pretty things. Click To Tweet
Nourishing Winter Bowl with Chipotle-Maple Roast Squash and Rainbow Vegetables! (An easy brown rice recipe)
- 1 ea acorn squash, seeded and cut into cubes
- 2 Tbs maple syrup
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 1 tsp chipotle (or chili) powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 1 cup brown rice
- 2 cups water
- 1-2 tsp salt
- 1 ea large (or 2 small) shallot, peeled and minced
- 1 Tbs whole grain mustard
- 2 Tbs lemon juice
- 1 Tbs rice wine vinegar (or champagne vinegar)
- 1 pinch chili flakes
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt, pepper to taste
- 1-2 small beets, peeled and thinly sliced (punched in circles if you want to go all out)
- 1/2 cup neutral oil, like vegetable
- 1/4 avocado, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1/2-1 carrot, peeled and julienned
- 1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
- 1 leaf kale, cleaned and cut in ribbons
- 1 leaf chard, cleaned and cut in ribbons (or a few leaves micro kale)
- 1-2 leaves cabbage, sliced thinly
- Squeeze of lemon juice, 1 tsp olive oil, salt, pepper to dress carrots and greens (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400
- Toss the squash with the rest of the squash ingredients, spread in a single layer on a baking tray lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper (just for easy clean up) and bake until tender, approximately 15-18 minutes.
- Heat the oil in a pot large enough to hold the rice and water.
- Add the rice, and stir. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the rice starts to smell nutty and toasted.
- Add the water and salt and simmer gently until the rice is tender, about 45 minutes. When the rice is done, stir in 2 Tbs salad dressing, taste, and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and more dressing if you want!
- Heat the oil in a pan until almost shimmering (350-375) and prepare a plate with a layer of paper towels to drain the beet chips.
- Carefully add the beet slices, making sure to spread them out. Gently stir and press beets into the oil. You want to cook all of the beet pieces evenly on all sides. When the bubbles slow, remove the beets from the oil and place on paper towels to drain, making sure that they are completely spread apart. Sprinkle with salt.
- Combine the shallots, mustard, a pinch of salt, lemon juice, and vinegar and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes. Slowly whisk in the oil, a little at a time, until incorporated. Taste, and adjust seasoning.
- Toss the carrots, the cabbage, the chard, and the kale with a little lemon juice, salt and olive oil. Season the avocado with a little lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Plate the rice, the veggies, the squash, and the kale. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, and enjoy!
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