Artichokes, Jicama & Beets

I have been looking at my past posts and have noticed that I make a lot of desserts. I find that funny because I’ve never really had a sweet tooth. I quite enjoy experimenting with recipes, attempting to replicate dishes I’ve seen or tried and simply eating it all. I sometimes amaze myself with what I am capable of doing. My palette has definitely changed and I am learning that I can create simple dishes by allowing one ingredient to be the star. I love going to markets and checking out what different produce they have: the colors, the flavors. I am by no means a chef or one who can whip up an amazing meal in minutes but I food gets me excited and I am happy to share that with you. Here are a few experiences I’ve had along my journey.

Artichokes

20130408_224712My first confession is that I have never purchased or cooked an artichoke until now. Coming from a Filipino-Canadian background I was never exposed to them growing up. One day instead of buying the jarred artichoke hearts I experimented cooking whole artichokes. The wonders of the internet, you can find how-to do almost everything. A website taught me how to clean, cut, cook and eat a whole artichoke – who would have thought? I took the simpler route and put the cleaned & trimmed artichokes in my handy crock pot topped with some olive oil and garlic. Three hours later I had a healthy snack that I could munch on in front of the T.V. It was such an eye-opener scraping the artichoke leaves and the reality that when you buy canned or jarred how much of the artichoke is wasted to only get the heart.

Jicama

20130426_083013Who’s heard, knows about or has even tried Jícama? I had no clue what is was or where to get it – that’s why I love markets you never know what you’ll see. Jícama is a sweet, root vegetable that looks like a turnip. It is high in carbohydrates in the form of dietary fiber, calcium & phosphorus, vitamins C, A and B, composed of 86%-90% water and has a slightly sweet flavor. Similar to other root vegetables it was difficult to cut and peel but once you get past all of that you are left with a white texture that looks like a cross between a raw potato and a pear. As I bit into it, the taste quickly reminded me of  my childhood when I visited the Philippines with my parents. I remember eating a lot of  ‘Singkamas’ which I always thought was fruit. After a quick google search I learned that they are the same. What a small world.

20130426_104053I found a lot of raw recipes use Jícama. They were commonly used in salads or even shredded to resemble rice. I turned my Jícama into a sweet and savory summer salad. Combined shredded Jícama, carrots and apples with lime juice, cilantro and some sea salt. It was very light and pleasant, perfect for the beautiful weather we are experiencing. I do feel as though it were missing something but I wasn’t quite sure. I topped it off with some pieces of grapefruit but that wasn’t it. Still need to experiment with this a little.

Beets

20130425_092803I love beets. You can eat them raw, roasted, cooked, in soups, juiced – all ways are delicious to me. I am fortunate to live in Vancouver where there are many hidden gems to grab a bite to eat. I have a list of restaurants I want to go to but at times I think “I can just make it at home.” On my to-go list is the Acorn Restaurant, a vegetarian, vegan, raw and gluten free establishment in restaurant in Vancouver. And of course I have not been there but I do like to creep on their menu and make something similar. A typical restaurant would have Beef Tartare but at a vegetarian joint they serve “Beet” Tartare. What an amazing idea. So with that in mind and searching online recipes I found this, http://www.dawnsrecipes.com/. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. So simple but very flavorful!

Beet Salad Tartare

4 medium beets
olive oil
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons olive oil
salt & pepper
6 ounces goat cheese
1 batch caramelized onions
1/3 cup candied walnuts
3/4 cup alfalfa sprouts

Preheat oven to 350º. Rinse the beets and pat dry. Place in a covered baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and rub into the skins. Bake covered for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until they can be easily pierced with a fork. The time will vary greatly on the size and freshness of the beets. Allow to cool, then peel off skin. Dice into 1/2-inch cubes.

Make the dressing: Whisk the mustard, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper together. Toss the diced beets with the dressing.

Layer the ingredients in the following order: beets, chèvre, onions, walnuts, then alfalfa sprouts.

20130426_084501

 
So basically you never know til you try. If you’ve never cooked or eaten a whole artichoke, heard of jicama or roasted beets I encourage you to do so. You never know you may actually like it. There are tons of different produce out there and I am trying to make it a point to purchase something foreign to me each time. Today I purchased a purple sweet potato. Anyone use it or tried it before? It’s fun experimenting and I hope this inspires you to try something new.

If there’s a certain fruit or vegetable that you use on a regular basis I would love to hear what it is!

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