Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spring colors on every plate!

I know spring is here because my favorite colors this week are pink and orange.  I pulled out my spring table cloth which has these colors, bought tulips in these colors, and today, cooked and ate these colors.

One of my favorite vegetables lately has been beets.  I didn't like these growing up, but in the last couple of years they have popped up on so many restaurant menus that I've come to love them.  So I made them at home, and they are pretty easy, and so gorgeous!  I usually just boil them, then toss in olive oil with a bit of salt, pepper, balsamic glaze and crumbled goat cheese, but this time I tweaked a Barefoot Contessa recipe and they turned out great, see below.

Jeweled Beets with Orange Vinaigrette

4 yellow beets
4 red beets
2 navel oranges
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. fresh squeezed orange juice
2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
zest from two navel oranges

Start by boiling your beets in salted water for about 45-50 minutes.  The water should just cover the beets, and they'll be ready when you prick them with a fork and feel that they are tender crisp (fork should pierce the flesh, but not be mushy).  Drain, rinse and let cool.  When you can handle the beets, peel them, and dice them into half inch cubes, placing in a stainless steel bowl (anything else will stain). 

For the vinaigrette, zest both oranges and reserve in a small mixing bowl with 2 tbsp. of the juice.  Peel the oranges, and cut the sections into bite sizes, adding to the beets.  Add oil, sugar, salt, pepper and vinegar in bowl and mix well.  Pour over beets and oranges and toss well.  Let marinate for at least one hour...but the longer they sit, the better they taste.  Depending on the size of your beets, this makes about 4 cups, so I count each half cup serving for one point for the oil.

I tried another new recipe today at lunch which turned out quite well.  It was another tweaked recipe from the Barefoot Contessa (I love Ina!), oven baked Sweet Potato Fries.  This was really a gorgeous side dish to my roasted chicken with BBQ sauce and squash (seasoned with I Can't Believe it's Not Butter and dill) as you can see below.  (In the photo the fries are at 4 o'clock on my plate- they kind of look like carrots.) 

Now if you are a "crispy French fry snob"  (you know who you are) then these might not be for you.  The flavor is awesome, but they aren't crispy because they're not fried but they are much better for you.  I have enough leftover for tomorrow's lunch with a Boca Burger.

Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries

2 large sweet potatoes
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. smoked paprika (if you don't have this spice, go get it- it's awesome!)
1/8 tsp. chili powder
few shakes of cayenne pepper (add more if you like the heat).

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.  Peel your sweet potatoes and cut into fries that are half the size of a "steak fry".  Spray a baking sheet with Pam, and place potatoes on sheet.  Pour olive oil on top, and toss by hand to make sure all are well covered.  Spread out on sheet to make sure they're all even and on the sheet.  in small mixing bowl mix brown sugar with all spices.  Toss by hand over all potatoes.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Pull from oven, flip with spatula and bake for another 5-15 minutes.  Enjoy!  A 3oz. serving is 2 points for the potato and 1 for the oil, so 3 points total.

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