Roasted Green Beans with Shallots

17 11 2010

Roasting green beans with shallots is a fresh alternative to heavy soup-based casseroles.

American Thanksgiving is next week and a favourite at many tables is Green Bean Casserole.  Made with canned soup and topped with fried onions, unfortunately it’s loaded with calories and sodium.  Lighten up with a delicious dish of roasted green beans and shallots, finished with sea salt and a squeeze of lemon.  These beans are also vegan-friendly and gluten-free so everyone at the table can enjoy a taste. Even if you’re not celebrating Thanksgiving, they make an excellent side dish for roast beef and chicken.

Strictly speaking, green beans are at their peak in the summer, however, they are greenhouse-grown and readily available throughout the year at most grocery stores. Do not use frozen beans as they have a different texture.  Tip: When slicing the shallots, be sure the rings are quite thick (about 1/4″) or they will burn before the beans are done.

Roasted Green Beans with Shallots

Makes about 4 side dish servings – can easily be doubled

  • 12 oz. (340 g) fresh green beans, ends trimmed – equals about 3 cups of beans
  • 2 small shallots, cut into rings about ¼” thick
  • 4 teaspoons neutral oil, such as canola or safflower
  • Parchment paper to line baking sheet or pan
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • Sea salt, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the baking rack in the middle position in the oven.
  2. In a large bowl, toss green beans with shallots and oil until they are lightly coated. Cut a piece of parchment paper to the same size as the bottom of a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet. Line the sheet and pour the bean/shallot mixture onto it, making sure they’re in a single layer.
  3. Roast the beans for 10 minutes. Check on them at this point – if the shallots and beans are becoming very brown, remove them from the oven. Otherwise, roast for another 5 minutes until the beans are beginning to char around the edges.
  4. To serve, season with sea salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Roasted Beet Salad with Walnuts and Feta

20 02 2010

 

Beets in cold storage

 

I tend to think of salad as a summer dish, which makes sense considering all the great produce available during the summer months.  Salads are the perfect meal when it’s hot out – crisp lettuce, juicy tomatoes and sweet peppers are refreshing when the weather turns humid.  However, salads can work in colder months too. Winter salads can be made with seasonal vegetables such as beets, celery root or potatoes and often incorporate cheese, nuts or meat to make them more substantial. 

Pairing roasted beets with nuts and cheese is not a new idea; in fact, I recently tried a delicious version with gorgonzola and pistachios at Locanda Verde restaurant in New York City.  My version calls for walnuts and feta cheese but goat cheese can be substituted if you’d prefer.  A bright sherry vinegar dressing pulls all of the flavours together.  Don’t skip the pickled shallots – they take a few minutes to make but add a nice sweet-tart element to the salad.  The salad is substantial enough to be a main course but you can always adjust the servings to work as a starter.

Roasting Beets:  To roast beets with minimal mess, trim the roots and greens, if still attached (reserve the greens for another use). Peel the beets and discard peelings. Cut beets into 1-1/2″ cubes and toss in a bowl with a tablespoon of neutral tasting oil such as canola or safflower oil. Spread beet chunks on a baking sheet and roast at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 20 minutes or until beets are tender and beginning to caramelize. Wash hands immediately after handling the beets to avoid staining.

Roasted Beet Salad with Walnuts and Feta

(VEGETARIAN)

Makes 2 main course salads or 4 starter course salads

  • 4 cups mixed salad greens
  • 4 beets, cubed and roasted (see ‘Roasting Beets’ above)
  • 1 cup toasted walnut halves
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese or to taste
  • Pickled shallots (see recipe below)
  • Sherry Vinaigrette (see recipe below)

Pickled Shallots

  • 5 shallots, peeled and cut into thin rings (about ½ cup of shallots)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup white wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  1. In a saucepan, combine sugar and vinegar and stir until combined. Bring to a boil and add shallots.
  2. Let mixture simmer on medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand until it cools.
  3. Drain vinegar and use pickled shallots as desired

Sherry Vinaigrette

  • 3 Tablespoons of neutral oil such as canola or safflower
  • 1 Tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon style mustard
  • A pinch of salt
  1. In a small bowl, add all ingredients and whisk until combined.

To Assemble Salads:

  1. In a large bowl, toss mixed greens with enough vinaigrette to moisten leaves. Assemble greens on plates.
  2. Top greens with beets, walnuts, feta and shallots. Lightly toss each serving until ingredients are combined. Drizzle with more vinaigrette if desired.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

This article first appeared on Suite 101.com.

Roasted Beet Salad with Walnuts and Feta





Oysters

15 01 2010

 

Prince Edward Island oysters at St. Lawrence Market, Toronto

Prince Edward Island oysters at St. Lawrence Market, Toronto

 

Oysters tend to be a ‘love them or hate them’ proposition.  However, for those who do love them, they’re the perfect thing to serve at a cocktail party or as a first course at dinner.  I also think that a lot of people who claim to hate oysters have never really tried them – they just think they look ugly and slimy (which they do, truth be told). Freshly shucked oysters and their sweet, briny liquor go well with a squeeze of lemon, horseradish, cocktail sauce, hot sauce and mignonette sauce (see recipe below).

Finding Oysters

Oysters are in season right now and there should be a wide variety available at good fish markets.  The traditional wisdom was that oysters should only be consumed during months with an ‘R’ in their names (ie. the colder months, September to April), however, these days oysters can usually be found year round.  A few years ago, I was on Prince Edward Island for a family reunion and my husband and I were wondering if we’d be able to get oysters.  We were staying not far from Malpeque so of course we could!  We drove a few minutes down the road and found a small dockside fish shop selling fresh oysters for less than a dollar each.  We bought a couple dozen, stopped at the liquor store for some sparkling wine and returned to our cottage to feast with my parents (who had never really eaten oysters, despite living in the Maritimes their entire lives). Luckily you don’t need to live on the coast to enjoy them – oysters are shipped around the world and are readily available at most fish counters. Some of my favourite restaurants to order oysters ‘inland’ include: Joe Beef (Montreal), Rodney’s Oyster House and Rodney’s By Bay (Toronto), Starfish and The Ceili Cottage (Toronto).

I happen to be partial to oysters from Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick (Malpeques, Caraquet, Raspberry Points, Colville Bay, Lucky Limes, etc.) but oysters are harvested around the world, including in Japan, the Pacific Northwest, Ireland, the Gulf Coast of the U.S. and New England. 

How to Shuck an Oyster

A shucked oyster and oyster knife

 

Shucking oysters is not difficult but it does take some practice.  An excellent video from Chef Rich Vellante of Legal Sea Foods gives step-by-step instructions for shucking and preparing oysters: How to Shuck Oysters.  Oyster knives can be purchased at most kitchenware shops and cost as little as $10.           

Serving Oysters

To serve oysters, place ice in a large serving bowl or platter.  Shuck the oysters (see above) and arrange on the ice.  Accompany with fresh lemon wedges and small bowls of seafood cocktail sauce, fresh grated horseradish and mignonette (see below). When selecting a wine to go with oysters, choose a crisp, dry white such as riesling, muscadet, sauvignon blanc or champagne. Beer also works with oysters – try them Guinness for a delicious pairing.

Mignonette Sauce

Serve in a small bowl alongside a platter of oysters and spoon a small amount of sauce over each oyster before slurping it down.

Makes a scant 1/2 cup

  • 2 Tablespoons finely minced shallot (about 1/2 of a medium sized shallot)
  • 3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients.  Let sit for at least 15 minutes before using.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

A platter of oysters with (from left to right) horseradish, lemon wedges and mignonette sauce. The wine is a Melon de Bourgogne from Norman Hardie Winery in Prince Edward County, Ontario.