Orange + Almond Black Rice Salad

Orange + Almond Black Rice Salad | Our Four Forks | #vegan #glutenfree

I try to get all of my grocery shopping done on Friday night on my way home from work. I love grocery shopping, but if I don’t try to squeeze it in between 5pm and dinner my first glass of wine on a Friday, it takes up too much of my Saturday or Sunday. I hem and haw over what to cook for lunch and dinner for week, what to make for the blog, furiously flipping through cookbooks, Bon Appétit, Food and Wine, Cooks Illustrated, Pinterest and by the time I’m out the door, half of Saturday is gone and I’m starving.

Friday night grocery shopping doesn’t necessarily mean my decision making is easier, but it forces me to commit ahead of my old schedule. Last week, I decided to buy ingredients for a “Chinese salad” because 1. more salads and 2. Chinese New Year. The new South End Whole Foods has TWO AISLES of bulk bins and when I spotted bulk black rice (aka forbidden rice), I had a salad vision and went with it.

Orange and Almond Black Rice Salad with soy ginger vinaigrette is full of flavor and texture. If you’re like me and need a break from all the heavy winter foods, this salad will be satisfying. It’s filling, but full of light and crunchy veggies, like cabbage, snap peas and scallions. Isabel has been encouraging me to make these sesame clusters for a while now, and I regret not having made them sooner. Along with the roasted almonds, the sesame clusters give the salad another dimension, making it heartier and more filling than most, perfect as a main dish.

Orange + Almond Black Rice Salad | Our Four Forks | #vegan #glutenfree

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Sticky Sesame Cauliflower Wings

Sticky Sesame Cauliflower Wings | ourfourforks.com

Whether or not you watch the Super Bowl, it’s the end of January and, here in New England, we still have two cold ,long months of winter. In Boston, post-holiday winter means sports, bars (and sports bars), skiing and comfort food. Juno is bearing down on us as I type this and, even though I don’t care so much about the outcome of Sunday’s game (go Seahawks), I always enjoy trying healthy game-day alternatives.

These sticky sesame cauliflower wings are a flavorful, addictive alternative to traditional chicken wings liked by both vegans and meat eaters. For other healthy Super Bowl food inspiration, I’ve created a “Game Day Makeovers” Pinterest board, so follow us there.

Super Bowl Pinterest Board | ourfourforks.com

Links + Photo Credits (Top to bottom, left to right):

Sticky Sesame Cauliflower Wings | ourfourforks.com

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Crispy Baked Polenta with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

Crispy Baked Polenta with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto | ourfourforks.com

It’s weird – I love cornbread, corn muffins, corn tortillas, corn bread stuffing, but I’ve never been into polenta. It’s not that I disliked it – I just didn’t have the urge to make it, order it or eat it. But my polenta perspective shifted recently when I ordered short ribs and polenta at friend’s birthday dinner and liked the polenta as much as the beef. This week, I saw a recipe for smoked porter-braised beef short ribs with polenta in Food and Wine (via the women at Food52) and made it immediately (with gluten free beer). And it was as good as it looks.

 

As a new polenta fan, I ventured into my cookbook library to find some polenta recipes I had previously skimmed over. Moosewood Restaurant New Classics, an old favorite, inspired me to bake and “bread” the polenta after letting it set, which is what I’ve done here. Crispy baked polenta with sun dried tomato pesto it full of flavor, texture and seasonality. It’s warm and comforting, but the little pop of basil gives a nod to warmer months to come.

 

Crispy Baked Polenta with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto | ourfourforks.com

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Winter Enchiladas with Pumpkin Enchilada Sauce

Winter Enchiladas with Pumpkin Enchilada Sauce | ourfourforks.com

January is when winter truly starts for me. The excitement of the holidays and warm weather vacations mask the cold of November and December pretty well. January in Boston – especially after spending some time in the Bahamas – is when real winter sets in.

 

I felt like I dove headfirst into January this week – right off the airplane into 20-degree weather and into the work week. Since it’s January I, like most people, would like to eat a little lighter and healthier than I have over the past couple of months but sometimes being slammed back into real life makes that seem difficult to do.

 

Instead of order from our neighborhood Tasty Burger, I decided to use of some healthy ingredients I had stored away and make enchiladas with pumpkin enchilada sauce. Using pumpkin purée and salsa from my pantry and vegetables and corn tortillas from my freezer, I was able to make a comforting, healthy and delicious meal to last a few nights – and avoid a tired, hungry, after-work trip to the grocery store.

 

Pumpkin enchilada sauce is vegan, gluten free and full of Mexican flavor with the seasonal creaminess of pumpkin. To fill the enchiladas, I roasted some vegetables I cubed and froze from my CSA – butternut squash, beets and parsnips– but any veggies will work here. Frozen corn, chopped kale, broccoli– get as elaborate or keep it as simple as you want. I always keep small 100% corn tortillas in the freezer for quick gluten free meals, but brown rice tortillas would also be good.

 

Winter Enchiladas with Pumpkin Enchilada Sauce | ourfourforks.comWinter Enchiladas with Pumpkin Enchilada Sauce | ourfourforks.com

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Roasted Almond Butternut Squash Sauce + Potato Spaghetti

Roasted Almond Butternut Squash Sauce + Potato Spaghetti

As soon as the weather turns, I quickly abandon summer salads and turn to fall foods: butternut squash, roasted root vegetables, sweet potato, kale and almond salad, cornbread. For breakfast, I’ve been craving pumpkin granola and for dinner this: roasted almond butternut squash sauce.

 

My plan for this meal was elaborate. We have over 5 lbs of new potatoes sitting in our fridge from our CSA and I wanted to make this gluten free potato gnocchi to pair with the sauce. I took a trip out to Cambridge to visit H-Mart, an amazing Asian market, to pick up some sweet rice flour, then spent hours in the kitchen baking the potatoes, rolling out the dough, shaping the gnocchi. It looked good and I had high hopes. But when I boiled them, they turned to mush: inedible.

 

The piece of this plan that did work out, thankfully, was this roasted almond butternut squash sauce. Roasted squash, almond butter, coconut milk, onions and sage are blended together to make this smooth and rich sauce that is deliciously creamy and vegan. This sauce is perfect for gnocchi (if you have a gluten free recipe that works, let me know) or a pasta (or pasta-like alternative) of your choice including spaghetti squash or this gluten free potato spaghetti. Topped with fried sage and roasted almonds, this is fall comfort food at its best.

 

Roasted Almond Butternut Squash Sauce + Potato Spaghetti

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