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
- Preheat your oven to 350;make the dressing: combine maple syrup, orange juice, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt.
- 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
- Prepare the kamut as per packet directions (typically 3 parts liquid to 1 part grain).
- 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.
- Add thyme to final 1/3 of dressing
- Combine tempeh, vegetables, kamut, and cranberries in a large bowl with remaining 1/3 dressing. Toss well.
- Serve with a garnish of goat's cheese!