Monday, January 26, 2009

Something a little more straightforward: Blood orange grain salad.


I'll come out and say it in explicit terms: I hate winter. I hate being cold, I hate that the MTA freaks right the hell out the second there is a drop of precipitation, I hate hat hair, I hate that I appear to return to my primordial reptile roots (or, at least, my skin does) as soon as the central heating gets turned on. Hate.

I love, however, Winter citrus. And while it is not an acceptable substitute for Spring, this California dreamer accepts that sometimes, it is as good as it gets. And, frankly, one could do a lot worse than this seasonal bounty--Tangerines! Meyer lemons! Blood oranges! Little puffs of sunshine in an otherwise bleak and depressing season!

I took my first real stand against Winter this past weekend, when I got my hands on some blood oranges. I had gotten it into my head to make something involving tempeh (pulled pork had been on the previous night's menu, and I was feeling a need to be a bit more virtuous), but wanted to veer away from my traditional Mirin-soy glaze; I wanted something comforting, something almost autumnal, but still bright and brisk. Sort of the culinary equivalent of walking in the deep woods on a crisp but sunny day. So, I snagged some radiant, bloody beauties, some sprouts and some squash, and decided to see what sort of random alchemy I could muster in my kitchen.


I ended up making a warm grain salad with a blood-orange, maple syrup and white balsamic glaze; it worked beautifully upon serving, the dressing's sweetness offset perfectly offset by the delightful tang of some soft, creamy goat's cheese. I will fully admit, however, that it lost a little something when consumed as the next day's lunch--the goat's cheese is vital to the dish really achieving on a flavor level (it really wakes up the citrus), and I didn't pack any. I hope to remedy that next time I make this--I would really like the dressing to stand on its own. My suspicion is that this can be fixed by changing up the acid; I will probably use a dark balsamic next time, as opposed to a fig-infused white balsamic, possibly mixed with a little bit of cider vinegar for kick. A bit of lemon juice might not go terribly amiss, either.

Don't let my conjectures put you off this recipe, however--for an experiment, I was happy with it--its soft, complex sweetness sated the cravings my body was experiencing for something warm and comforting, and it cheered me up immeasurably with its sunny charm. I hope it will do the same for you!

Recipe has been adjusted to reflect my musings.

Blood orange tempeh and kamut salad

1/2 c maple syrup
Juice of 3 blood oranges
1/3 c olive oil
1/2 c balsamic vinegar (at this point, i'd recommend avoiding anything fruit-infused or of the white balsamic variety)
1 tbsp fresh thyme

1 packet tempeh

1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/8" cubes
2-3 red onions, peeled and cut into eighths
8 oz brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed, quartered
1/4 c dried cranberries

1c kamut
3c water
  1. Preheat your oven to 350;make the dressing: combine maple syrup, orange juice, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt.
  2. Place squash, onion, and sprouts in a roasting dish. Add 1/3 dressing. Cover with foil and roast for 30min. Remove the foil after 30 min, then continue to roast until squash is nice and soft
  3. Prepare the kamut as per packet directions (typically 3 parts liquid to 1 part grain).
  4. Cut tempeh into 1" cubes. In a skillet, heat some olive oil and fry the tempeh over medium-high heat until golden brown. Reduce the heat and add 1/3 dressing, stirring until the liquid is nice and syrupy.
  5. Add thyme to final 1/3 of dressing
  6. Combine tempeh, vegetables, kamut, and cranberries in a large bowl with remaining 1/3 dressing. Toss well.
  7. Serve with a garnish of goat's cheese!


Hayley said...

This sounds sooo good! I put Brussels sprouts and cranberries in almost every salad. I've never had tempeh, and being a vegetarian, I should probably change that. Thanks for sharing!

Culinarywannabe said...

Blood oranges are so pretty, I'm always looking for an excuse to buy them. What a nice, light change from all the hearty foods we've been eating.

Heather said...

yum! that sounds great. i love the addition of maple syrup to the vinaigrette.

AnticiPlate said...

This looks fantastic! I have never cooked with tempeh. Sounds interesting? Similar to farro, maybe? I bet the citrus with the goat cheese was phenom:)

kaytie said...

I envy your ability to find blood oranges. Really. I asked my friendly grocery staffperson about blood oranges, and he told me that the only oranges they had were the kind with bellybuttons, and the kind without. Charming.

kickpleat said...

i almost bought some tempeh yesterday and now i'm kicking myself for not doing so. nice blog & collection of recipes you have here! i'll be visiting :)

Adi said...
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