I have been super MIA. This time of year I seem to get so sucked into laziness as the days get shorter and the sun and warmth disappear. This makes it particularly hard to snap a photo of dinner when dinner is a bowl of roasted veggies we eat at 9pm.
With my husband and I both in grad school (me full time, him part time) and both working (him full time, me part time) we often find ourselves home late only to look at each other and almost simultaneously say "wanna order sweetgreen". Maybe I am SUPER basic, but I freaking love sweetgreen. Something about being able to order a hardy, filling salad that's comparable to something homemade feels like such an easy satisfying choice.
And being the total creature of habit that I am, despite going to sweetgreen maybe 20 + times I order the same thing literally every time: The Harvest Bowl no chicken. Sometimes I add tofu, sometimes I add falafel, sometimes I add nothing but it's so damn good on it's own.
With thanksgiving coming, I knew I wanted to recreate my beloved salad at home. I spruced it up with pomegranates and used warm roasted butternut instead of the cold sweet potato slices and it is everything. Prepping all of the different elements takes some time - which is part of what makes sweetgreen so damn tempting for folks who are busy, but it is worth the effort if you have some extra time. And because kale is basically the most badass green you can totally eat the leftovers the next day without them getting soggy! This will for sure be on our thanksgiving table this year!
Serves 4 as a large meal, or 8-10 as an appetizer/side
Inspired by: sweetgreen
1 small butternut squash
1-2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1/2 cup wild rice, uncooked
1 1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large pomegranate (or about 3/4 cup arils)
1 large bunch of kale (~10-12 oz), de-ribbed and thinly chopped
1 large honeycrisp apple, cored and diced into large cubes
3 oz goat cheese
1/3 cup raw almonds
1 tablespoon olive oil
For the balsamic vinaigrette:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey or maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 425 and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Meanwhile peel the butternut, then slice in half and discard the stringy center and seeds (or toast them with olive oil and salt for a tasty snack). Dice the butternut and then toss the cubes with oil and a liberal amount of salt. Bake the butternut for 35-45 minutes or until lightly browned, tossing halfway through. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly as you assemble the rest of the salad.
Make the rice. Bring water and salt to a boil in a small saucepan, then add the rice, cover, and reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 50 minutes (or per the instructions on your rice container).
Slice open the pomegranate and remove the seeds. I find the easiest way to do this is to quarter the pomegranate then submerge one quarter at a time in a large bowl of water. Underwater carefully tear away the pith, removing the rubies. The rubies will float to the top of the water and the pith will fall to the bottom!
Roast the almonds. Decrease the oven temperature to 350 degrees (alternately you could roast the almonds in a small toaster oven - that's usually what I do). Toss almonds with olive oil and salt and cook for about 5 minutes until almond skins begin to crack and turn a dark brown color (watch carefully so they don't burn). You want to bring them right to the edge of burnt so they are crunchy and extremely fragrant. Roughly chop and set aside.
Make the dressing by combining all the ingredients into a airtight jar (I use a mason) and shake until combined. Pour about half of the dressing over the kale and using your hands, massage the kale and dressing together for a good 3 minutes until the kale becomes limp and the pile decreases in size. Top with the roasted squash, wild rice, pomegranate seeds, almonds, goat cheese, and apple. Drizzle on the remaining dressing, toss and serve!
Happy Valentine's Day. I've been on a bit of a pomegranate kick lately. And to be honest I planned on making chocolate bark over the holidays but got too busy. It was my first time making bark and I was surprised at how easy it was. The whole process only takes about 15 minutes and there's a good chance you already have the ingredients on hand. It makes a great gift, snack to sneak into the movies, or perfect simple Valentine's treat.
Dark Chocolate Bark with Pomegranate, Sea Salt, & Chocolate Cookie Crumbs
1 pound dark chocolate, roughly chopped (I used 58% cocoa)
1/4 cup coconut oil
1.5 cups pomegranate arils (from about 2 medium pomegranates)
1/2 cup chocolate cookies, crumbled (I used Trader Joe's Joe Joes)
1 scant teaspoon chunky sea salt
Prep the toppings. Fill a large bowl with cold water. Slice pomegranates in half then submerge in water. Remove the pomegranate arils from the pith. The arils will fall to the bottom of the bowl and the pith will rise to the top. Skim the pith from the top and drain the water. Lay pomegranate arils on a paper towel and pat to dry. Crumble the cookies into rough chunks. Roughly chop the chocolate.
Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Heat the chocolate in the bowl of a double boiler over simmering water until melted. Remove from heat and stir in coconut oil until completely combined. Stir in half of the pomegranate arils, the pour the chocolate mixture into the baking sheet, allowing it to spread out until it's about 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle with remaining arils, cookie crumbs, and sea salt. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, then crack the bark into pieces and enjoy. Keeps in the fridge.
- I was a little unsure about adding the cookies so I only added them to half of the bark. I can report, the cookies were definitely a good idea.
- Feel free to get creative when it comes to the toppings.
Right now my life consists of grad school interviews (!!!!) and angel food cake. Both of which I'm super excited about. It looks like we'll be going to Chicago, Boston, and San Francisco (twice) over the next three weeks. My bank account is empty, my carbon footprint is huge, and my heart is full. We'll see what happens.
On another note, it's almost Valentine's Day, a silly holiday if I do say so myself. I've never been much of a fan, until I clicked through my favorite food blogs earlier this morning and got super inspired. I'm debating between a simple pasta dish with mascarpone, hazelnuts, spinach and homemade pasta, or going big on a french theme with french onion soup (did you know you can make it without beef broth?) salad, and creme brûlée. Classic. Either way there will be angel food cake.
You see, angel food cake is my husband's favorite, ever. Whenever I ask him what he wants for his birthday/first night home after a long trip away/anniversary the answer is always angel food cake. Being the crazy that I am, I refuse to buy the stuff, which in honestly way easier and not far off from the homemade version. You see, angel food cake is finicky. We're talking borderline french macaron finicky. So finicky I almost resisted posting it. So finicky it needs a special pan (I tried it in a bundt once to save money and it was disastrous), perfectly room-temperature egg whites, and an upside down cooling strategy. So finicky that my attempts to simplify and adapt an already perfect recipe failed miserably. So this recipe is from Alton Brown. Follow the directions exactly and you will be fine. Don't adapt, don't skip anything, or you will waste a dozen eggs. Yeah, I know it's a lot, but you can and should totally make ice cream with the yolks.
Angel food cake is most traditionally served with whipped cream and strawberries. But alas it's February and I wish I could scream at every supermarket in the country right now to "STOP TRYING TO MAKE OUT-OF-SEASON STRAWBERRIES DURING VALENTINE'S DAY A THING". There is nothing romantic about over-priced, imported, tasteless out of season fruit. Just wait until Spring people, it will be worth it. In effort to replace the strawberries, and in keeping the the whole red v-day theme, I went with a sweet pomegranate syrup instead. And I made a dark chocolate whipped cream which is literally icing on an already fantastic cake, because chocolate is already a good idea.
Angel Food Cake with Dark Chocolate Whipped Cream & Pomegranate Syrup
Cake recipe by Alton Brown
For the cake:
1 3/4 cup cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cake flour
12 large egg whites, room temperature
1/3 cup warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1.5 teaspoons cream of tartar
For the whipped cream:
4 ounces dark chocolate, roughly chopped
2 cups heavy cream
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Pomegranate syrup
1.5 cups pomegranate juice (about 3 pomegranates - see notes) + a handful of arils for serving
1/3 cup cane sugar
Make the whipped cream. Place chocolate in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan heat heavy cream to a soft boil. Remove from heat and pour over chocolate. Let sit for a minute, then stir until completely incorporated. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours. Once cool, use a hand mixer with a whisk attachment and whip until it becomes whipped cream.
Make the cake. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pulse sugar in a food processor or blender for about 2 minutes until finely ground. Reserve 1/2 of the sugar. Whisk the other 1/2 of the sugar with cake flour, and salt. Combine egg whites, water, vanilla, and cream of tarter in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk on medium high, slowly incorporating the remaining half of the sugar, until medium peaks form and the whisk forms grooves in the egg whites. Using a fine mesh strainer sprinkle about 1/5 of the flour mixture onto the egg whites. Being mindful you don't de-flat the egg whites, gently fold in the flour, sweeping the spatula from the bottom of the bowl to the top, turning the bowl as you go. Repeat four more times until all of the flour is incorporated. Try to do this step quickly. Pour batter into an angel food cake pan, take a sharp knife and pierce it into the batter, drawing a circle (martha stewart taught me this gets rid of air bubbles), then use a spatula to lightly even out the top. Cook for 45-50 minutes until the top is lightly brown and a skewer comes out clean.
To cool, invert upside down over a bottle for at least an hour. I'm not kidding. See photo. Once cooled take a butter knife and glide it between the cake and the edges and center of the pan. I also had luck with a little shaking and smacking. Trust, it will come out.
Make the pomegranate syrup. Combine juice and sugar in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Stir occasionally until juice has thickened and reduced by half, about 30-40 minutes.
Serve the cake with whipped cream, pomegranate syrup and a small handful of pomegranate arils. Cake keeps for about 5 days covered at room temperature.
- Wanting to save time by not blending the sugar in a food processor, and thinking powdered sugar is basically the same thing? We think alike. And I tried it. It doesn't come out as well, I suspect because powdered sugar actually has some anti-clumping additive that must mess with the egg whites.
- Feel bad about tossing all those egg yolks? Save them and make ice cream!
- Here's a fantastic article with pictures for juicing your own pomegranates. All you need is a blender/food processor and a fine mesh strainer. If you don't have time, Pom pomegranate juice works, it's just more expensive.