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