San Francisco Chronicle - (Sunday)
Braised Beet Poke
Beets stand in remarkably well for overfished tuna in this vegan take on a Hawaiian classic adapted from “Eat Plants Every Day” (Weldon Owen) by Blair and Carolyn Warsham. Braising the beets in vinegar tones down their earthiness and softens their texture, playing nicely with creamy avocado, crunchy macadamias and refreshing cucumber. Store-bought seaweed salad is a smart shortcut to help make this poke taste like a day at the beach.
3 cups water
1 cup cider vinegar
½ cup Clover Blossom Honey or packed brown sugar 2 pounds medium red beets (as uniform in size as possible)
Sauce cup raw cane, coconut, or date sugar ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup mirin
¼ cup tamari
½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 1 teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 piece (2 ounces) Japanese cucumber, sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds
½ avocado, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
2 watermelon radishes, peeled and shaved or thinly sliced 2 ounces store-bought seaweed salad (about cup)
½ cup macadamia nuts, toasted and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon thinly sliced green onion, pale green parts only 1½ teaspoons togarashi
Rice crackers for serving, such as Japan’s Clearspring brand
puffed rice crackers
To cook the beets: Combine the water, vinegar, and honey in a small stockpot and mix well. For the beets to cook evenly, the pot must be small enough for them to be completely submerged in the liquid. There must also be at least a few inches between the surface of the liquid and the pot rim so liquid does not boil over. If necessary, ladle out some of the liquid. Cover the pot with a lid or aluminum foil, place on the stove top over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and braise the beets until a sharp knife or toothpick pierces easily to the center of a beet. The beets are usually ready in about 1¼ hours, but begin checking after 1 hour.
To make the sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients until well mixed and the sugar dissolves. You will need only 3 tablespoons sauce for the poke. Store the leftover sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
When the beets are ready, remove the pot from the stove top and let the beets continue to cook in the liquid. When the beets have cooled for about 20 minutes, don rubber gloves (to keep your hands from turning red) and remove the beets from the liquid. To skin each beet, wrap it in a paper towel and give it a gentle squeeze. The skin will slide off.
Once the beets are cool, cut them into ½-inch cubes. (Any scraps can be reserved for use in a salad or as a snack.) Measure out 2 cups cubed beets for the poke and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, which helps prevent the red color from leeching out. Reserve the remainder for another use.
To finish: In a bowl, combine the beets, cucumber, avocado, radish, seaweed salad and 3 tablespoons of the sauce, and mix together very gently. Spoon the poke into the center of a serving bowl. Sprinkle with the nuts, green onions and togarashi and serve with the rice crackers for scooping.
Curried Cauliflower With Muhammara
This roasted cauliflower is served over a sour, nutty, sweet — and gluten-free — version of muhammara, the Middle Eastern pepper dip. This crowd-pleasing recipe, adapted from “Eat Plants Every Day” (Weldon Owen) by Blair and Carolyn Warsham, showcases how delicious vegan food can be without any specialty ingredients. You’ll end up with a lot of extra muhammara, which is a good thing. Scoop up the rest with pita or serve it as part of a mezze spread.
1 jar or can (8 ounces) roasted red peppers, well drained ¾ cup walnuts, toasted
2 cloves garlic
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sumac
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 head cauliflower
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons Madras or Japanese curry powder
½ bunch fresh cilantro
¼ cup pomegranate seeds
½ cup walnut halves, toasted and broken in half
For the muhammara: In a blender (for a smoother consistency) or food processor (for a chunkier consistency), combine the peppers, walnuts and garlic and process until well mixed. Add the oil, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, Aleppo pepper, salt, sumac and pepper flakes if using and process until all the ingredients are fully combined. Measure out ¼ cup for the cauliflower. Transfer the rest to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
For the cauliflower: Position an oven rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.
Cut the cauliflower into roughly 1½-inch pieces. The pieces will shrink about 30 percent during roasting, so you don’t want to cut them too small. Also, the center and ribs as well as the florets can be cooked and eaten. Put the pieces into a large bowl, add the oil and toss to coat evenly. Then season the oiled cauliflower with the curry powder and generously with salt, mixing well.
Spread the cauliflower on the prepared pan. Roast the cauliflower on the top rack of the oven until light brown, about 30 minutes. (The top rack is important here because many home ovens heat from the bottom, and the cauliflower can burn if positioned lower.) Remove from oven.
Pick the cilantro sprigs into 3-inch lengths. (The stems are the best part, so we don’t want to exclude them.) Spoon the muhammara into the center of a serving bowl or plate. Using a circular motion, spread it as if spreading tomato sauce on a pizza crust, leaving a couple of inches of the bowl or plate rim uncovered. In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower with the cilantro, pomegranate seeds and walnuts. Spoon the cauliflower mixture into the center of the muhammara pool. Garnish the top of the dish with any stragglers in the bowl and serve.