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Nov 15, 2011

Guest Post: Eat The Roses

That's the name of my guest's blog. Not asking you to eat roses.
But then, why not.

Drumroll ......

My very first guestpost! Presenting ...... Veronika!! (Stop blushing, V)

I've been down in the dumps lately and haven't been posting very much. I've never liked whiney folks so I did not want to post or write while I'm feeling all whiney. It might be catching. Let's be honest, we're not here to hear my whines and woes. So, for all you very patient and faithful friends and bloggers and visitors who have been visiting and getting nothing for awhile (my apologies), this is the opportunity for me to introduce someone who deserves to be more out there. Smart, talented, witty, creative, gorgeous and taken ... sorry, guys.
Without further ado ... Tadaaaaa!!

Tambi, no, tomipam, no, bopi .... darn! I can't pronounce these things. I'll let her do the talking. Shut up, Ping.

First of all, I'd like to say that I am very flattered to be writing a guest post for Ping. I'd encountered her blog just a couple of months ago, and immediately ended up reading the whole thing, from the beginning, like a maniac with the thought - I can see why it's popular, she's great at this! So I commented here and there, and one thing led to another – this post, eventually. So before further ado, I'd like to thank Ping for the opportunity.

Since I was also given a fairly generously free hand with this guest posting business, today's post is about not one, but five of my favorite things, and would (totally accidentally for my normally carnivorous self!) be holier-than-thou vegan if it weren't for the last of those: topinambours (aka Jerusalem artichokes – Helianus tuberosus), mushrooms, quinoa, garlic and bacon fat. But I do allow that that last one can be substituted for if you are vegetarian- or vegan-inclined.

And since I had all of those delicious, earthy-flavored things on hand, and was going to devise a recipe for Ping's blog, I thought - why not put them together into a hearty lunch salad? No reason at all! And so, the topinambour, mushroom and quinoa salad came into being. And let me tell you, it really, really works, and was above and beyond worth the minimal bother it took to make it – the boyfriend, who usually has impeccable manners, ended up stuffing his face and mumbling to me around a large mouthful: "You have to make this again!"

No way I can (nor want to!) deny that plea. This warm salad is healthy, filling, and incredibly comforting the way salads usually don't manage to be. Quinoa has a very good balance of essential amino acids, mushrooms contribute B-complex vitamins, and topinambours are rich in dietary fibre, and low in carbohydrates – so the entire concoction is also LCHF-friendly for those of us who are sensitive to sugar. And if that weren't enough, all of this really packs a flavor punch, too! And if you want to serve it as a festive starter, just use the given quantities and use them to serve four instead of hungry two – and have your favorite white wine or bubbly with it!

But, wait, what? Bacon fat? Didn't I say this salad was healthy? Isnt't that the scary, frightening saturated fat we've all been told would kill us? Sensationalism and paid media aside, no, bacon fat isn't about to viciously clog your arteries. I won't go into great detail here, but essentially, saturated fat is not unhealthy unless you eat it entirely too much, and with refined carbohydrates (white bread and sugars of various descriptions), due to the fact that insulin spike in your bloodstream is needed to create those arterial plaques. Although you don't have to take my word for it, and can substitute olive oil for it instead. I promise not to be offended!

So yes, bacon fat is in the recipe because it tastes, frankly, of bacon and that goes oh-so-fantastically well with quinoa and the sunflower flavor of topinambours, and is also a wonderful high-smoke-point sauteeing oil for vegetables, but by all means, a little bit of refined canola or other vegetable oil of your choice is just fine.

What you need (feeds 2 very hungry people):

~ 200g topinambours (washed, scrubbed and trimmed)
~ 1.5 – 2dl dry quinoa (I used mostly white with a sprinkling of red in it for visual appeal)
~ 5-6 large Champignons (white or chestnut mushrooms), sliced
~ 3-5 garlic cloves (this really depends on how much you love garlic, so adjust accordingly!), peeled and sliced crosswise
~ 1 large pinch of red chili flakes
~ 1 large handful of arugula (Eruca sativa) leaves, or any other baby bitter greens you have on hand
~ Extra-virgin olive oil to taste, for drizzling
~ 2 tablespoons bacon fat for frying topinambours (or use 4 instead of 2 tablespoons of frying oil)
~ 2 tablespoons refined vegetable oil for frying mushrooms
~ Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

What you do:

~ Rinse quinoa, and place in a pot with boiling salted water and a drop of olive oil to cook. Cook according to your package instructions. Quinoa is ready when tender to the bite but not mushy so try not to overcook (been there, done that...).
~ Once quinoa is done, strain it and hand the strainer over the pot you'd used to cook it, covering with the lid to keep it warm but not soggy.
~ Preheat a non-stick frying pan with the bacon fat in it, and while that is heating, slice your topinambours. You do not want to do this in advance because they tend to oxidize quickly when cut – and for purposes of sauteeing, soaking them in acidified water is not a good idea.
~ Toss the topinambours into the pan, and saute on medium-high heat until the edges turn golden-brown.
~ Put quinoa into a bowl, add the topinambours and the chili flakes, and toss to combine. Cover and set aside.
~ Add the vegetable oil to the pan, and saute mushrooms on same medium-high heat until they, too, begin to color on edges.
~ Push the mushrooms to one side, add a small splash of oil to the empty side, and add the garlic. Fry the garlic only until it turns bright white and aromatic – a few seconds to a minute. Take pan off the heat the moment garlic starts to color.
~ Assemble the salad – plate the quinoa and topinambour mix, top it with the mushrooms and scatter greens around and over. Carefully spoon half the garlic onto the top of each plate, and then pour the hot garlic-infused oil over the plates.
~ Drizzle with some extra-virgin olive oil if desired, season with sea salt (a good flaked salt really shines here!) and freshly-ground black pepper to taste, and serve immediately.

I do hope you enjoy this. I know I did!


(Pop on over to Eat The Roses for more. Tell Veronika, Ping says hi as well.)

Eat The Roses Button


  1. Ping, you are so sweet...I truly hope you get out of this funk soon. Till then, you'll be in my thoughts.

    Veronika, such a pleasure to meet you!!! Your salad sounds fabulous...and bacon makes everything better :)

  2. Well, all I can say is that bacon makes everything better! Great guest post!

  3. WOW...Awesome recipe...Make me drool here..

    Do visit my blog too

  4. ping, sorry that was a joke. But now when I read again what I wrote it sounds like I shouldn't have written it. Please feel free to delete, bad joke on my part:( I need more brain food:)

  5. Ping dear-so glad to see you got out of your funk, enough to have your first guest post.
    Delicious looking salad, so healthy! Thanks for introducing Veronic to us!

  6. Lizzy: Thanks, dear friend. I am slowly getting out of it. Veronika is such a dear to help me out here. And, yes, bacon is feel good food! Oh, I should be eating a lot more of it then. Funk begone!

    Jen: Hi. Haha! Everyone seems to agree on the same thing here. Thanks.

  7. Aarthi: Thank you. Why not try it out.

    3Cookies: To quote Bobby McFerrin .. Don't worry, Be Happy. Besides, your joke got deleted. Now say something nice and eat more bacon. :D

    Elisabeth: Hi Liz dear (may I call you that?). Funk's clearing a teeny bit with Veronika's help. Thank you.

  8. Ping, first thanks for visiting my blog even when you don't feel so upbeat and leave your comment. It is good to have Veronica to help you out with this guest post so that you can take sometime to bounce back:D

    Veronika, you have done a great guest post. I don't care if those bacon grease will block all my arteries because your "topping numbers" (that is how I prounouce it) does top the numbers in terms of ingredients used so it must be very delicious. I eat first and then come what come may!!

  9. Nice to meet you Veronika - I love jerusalem artichokes too! I had no idea they were called "topinambours" in English... that explains their name in French. Quinoa is always a win too - it's something I only had for the first time this year and it's great. Filling, satisfying, and so much healthier than rice/pasta, even though it has a really similar characteristic!

    Your dish looks truly great. I'll try it next time I have some topinambours. Usually I like to roast them in the oven with a peeled onion, add them to stock and blend it all up - it makes a super easy, delicious soup.

    Thanks for sharing, and @Ping - I hope you're feeling better soon!

  10. First of all, thanks to Ping for giving me the opportunity - and no, Mr. Too-Few Cookies, it's not slavery, it's a mutually beneficial arrangement! :P

    Hope you enjoy the salad (though for brain food, I'd go with seafood!), and Ping - get better soon. Already. Yesterday!

    - Veronika

  11. QPC: Hi Lucy. Visiting blogs is quite therapeutic for me. Looking at all the yummy stuff gets my appetite going. Doing a slow, low bounce right now :D.

    Charles: Thank you.

    eattheroses: LOL!! No comment except for a lot of laughter!

  12. Great guest post. Looks delicious. Ping we need to turn that frown upside down immediately.

  13. Oh, posted the comment when not all were showing, so I missed a few people! Thank you all for the welcome!

    Charles, topinambours have a retarded name in English (Jerusalem artichokes, what the heck?), and so I use the French one instead (at least they have a word for it!). And yes, I love the soup made of those, though I haven't tried roasting them for it - I should, I do that with other veg! I normally cook them in a few changes of water and then puree, which probably results in a less pronounced flavor... Hm!

    Quay - but, but bacon grease isn't bad for you! It's just that it has an undeservedly bad rep, that's all. Besides, it does taste divine so we are in agreement there! :D

    Ping, laugher is good for you! Everyone knows that!

    - Veronika

  14. Kim Bee: :) There, howz that? Soon, soon, it's all coming back to me ....

  15. Thank you, Ping, for introducing Veronika and her blog!
    Veronika, thank you for this wonderful, hearty, but very healthy recipe (I am one of those who don't have to be convinced about the pork fat's advantages and qualities ;-) )
    The post has also been a very enjoyable read!

  16. That was okay. I'll take it. Now get your butt in the kitchen! Lol!

  17. Kim Bee: Yes ma'am, getting there, ma'am .... veerry close, getting closer ... so near, yet so far.

  18. Great guest post! And Ping, whine away! We all do it... :D

  19. Tiffany: Hehe! Maybe I'll start a separate Whiners' Website and everyone can let loose there. Hmm ...

  20. hi ping! thanks for introducing veronika to us. i read about your writers block and i have been in that situation before. i recalled i went missing in action for 3 months or more. thanks to Elizabeth for being such a supportive friend. she's a real sweet heart. what i enjoy most is your witty write ups. do take care and thanks for coming over whenever you can. hugs Jo.

  21. ChicGorgeous: Hi Jo. Read of your exploits with Elisabeth at the festival. Sounds like you two had a great time. Yes, I will definitely get out of this low. Guess everyone needs some time out now and then. Thanks for being supportive. Hug back.

  22. So glad to hear from you Ping, well, er, not from you, but glad that your blog is still going strong. Loved the guest post. It's so much fun to meet new bloggers through mutual friends. Hope you are well and that the sun shines in your next of the woods.

  23. Thank you, Kristen. I have been feeling a lot better and less stressed these few days. Finally getting a breather ... but then Christmas madness is coming ... LOL. Oh well, that's a happy madness. :D