Search This Blog

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Roasted Beet Risotto

This deep red risotto is as pleasing to the palate as the eye. Roasted beets and red pepper give it a complex flavor and a beautiful color.

Beets and red peppers are good sources of phytonutrients with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and liver-protective properties. And if you eat grains, this is a good way to go: in their whole form and with lots of vegetables. Here I use one cup roasted beet purée and one bell pepper per cup and a half of brown rice.

Risotto is usually made with white wine. But because my risotto is red, I used red wine. I chose a dry and flavorful Merlot, but feel free to substitute another dry red wine, like a Syrah or Pinot Noir.

1 bunch beets
1 quart vegetable stock
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic or more, grated, crushed or minced
Sea salt
1½ cups short-grain brown rice, soaked overnight if possible
1/2 cup red wine, merlot or other
4 sprigs of savory, or substitute rosemary
Pinch crushed red pepper (optional)
Black peppercorn to taste

To prepare the beet and red pepper:

This step can be done a day or two in advance.

Preheat oven to 400.

Place the red pepper inside and roast until soft and brown. Cool, remove skin, chop roughly and set aside.

Scrub the beets and remove all but 1 inch of the greens (reserve the greens for another purpose). Wrap the beets in aluminum foil and roast until tender, about an hour. Open the foil, drain and reserve any juices, the set the beets aside to cool.

Once the beets are cool, remove the tops and roots, leaving the peel intact. Chop roughly and purée with reserved juice until smooth. If you don’t have a food processor, dice them into bite-sized cubes and add the juice later with the wine. Set aside 1 cup of beet purée or a heaping cup of cubes for this recipe. Reserve the rest for another use (serve the purée like you would mashed potatoes or any vegetable purée, or use it to make borscht).

To prepare the risotto:

When the beet purée is ready, warm the vegetable stock in a sauce pan over low heat.

Warm the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and a pinch of sea salt. Stir and cook until the garlic becomes aromatic (less than a minute). Do not burn the garlic.

Add the rice to the skillet and stir to coat each grain thoroughly. Cook for 3 minutes, until the grains start to toast. Stir in the wine and cook until most of it has been absorbed. Add the beet purée, savory sprigs, crushed red pepper, black peppercorn, and another pinch of sea salt. Stir to combine. Once the beet mixture is warm, start adding the vegetable stock a ladle or two at a time and stir frequently, until the rice is tender and the sauce has thickened. If you anticipate needing more liquid as you use up the stock, warm a teapot full of water and keep it on standby.

Once the rice is tender and the sauce has thickened, remove the skillet from the heat. Stir in the roasted red pepper pieces and most of the fresh dill and grated Parmesan, reserving some to garnish the dish. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Cover the risotto to keep it warm and set it aside for 10 minutes before serving.

Stir the risotto again, then transfer to a serving dish or individual plates and garnish with reserved dill and Parmesan. Serve immediately.


Georgiev VG et al. Antioxidant activity and phenolic content of betalain extracts from intact plants and hairy root cultures of the red beetroot Beta vulgaris cv. Detroit dark red. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition. 2010 Jun;65(2):105-11.

Ingram D. Diet and subsequent survival in women with breast cancer. British Journal of Cancer. 1994 Mar;69(3):592-5.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Gluten-Free Apple Crumble

This humble apple crumble is always a hit. You can throw it together in minutes and bake it in anything: individual ramekins or a baking dish or a pie pan.

It's hard to make a good crumble topping without sugar and flour, but I've perfected the recipe. Ground dates add a natural sweetness, while nuts and seeds add protein and healthy omega-3 fats. And because there is no flour, there is no gluten. It's just fruit and nuts and seeds.

Here I used almonds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds, but you can substitute what you already have on hand or what you like best. Other good choices include pecans, cashews, sunflower seeds, hemp nuts, ground flax seeds and unsweetened coconut flakes.

This recipe makes enough for 4 apples. If you plan to make fewer servings, or if you have fewer apples, save the crumble topping you don't use for future desserts. Wrapped air-tight, it will last in the fridge for a week or more, or for months in the freezer.

6 tbsp cold butter, cut into chunks (keep it in the fridge until you're ready for it) plus more to coat the ramekins/baking dish
2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
4 organic apples, Golden Delicious or other, skin-on, chopped apples
1/2 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds or pepitas 
1/2 cup raw walnuts
1/2 cup roughly chopped pitted dates
Pinch sea salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Coat the insides of 4 one-cup ramekins or a baking dish with butter. Add the chopped apples and pack the pieces in well because they will lose volume when they cook. Drizzle the apples with honey and set aside.

Add the almonds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, dates, sea salt and cinnamon to a food processor and pulse until the mixture is finely chopped. Add the cold butter and continue to pulse until clumps form. Remove it from the food processor and distribute the crumble mixture evenly over the apples.

Transfer the apple crumble to the oven and bake until the apples are soft and the top turns golden brown, about 45 minutes. Cool slightly or cool to room temperature before serving, alone or with a dollop of unsweetened freshly whipped cream.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Simple Raspberry Sauce

1 cup frozen raspberries, thawed, with juices
1 tsp honey

Allow the raspberries to thaw in a dish at room temperature for up to 2 hours (or overnight in the fridge), then stir in the honey. Allow the mixture to sit for at least 5 minutes more, so the raspberry juice can dissolve the honey. 
Serve immediately or store the sauce in an air-tight container in the fridge for future use.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dreamy Dark Chocolate Mi-Cuits


These delicious little chocolate cakes are called "mi-cuits" in France (pronounced “mee-kwee”) which translates to "midway cooked." Because their centers are soft and gooey, they may appear only partially baked, but believe me, they are cooked to perfection.

At the moment you can find them on every good dessert menu in Paris, but if France is too far, you can make them yourself. Mi-cuits must be prepared in advance and frozen solid, but once you have them in the freezer, they can be baked on demand any time you like.

This Valentine's Day, treat your sweetheart (or another lucky person) to this chocolate lover's dream. Home-made desserts are always something special and this is a healthy one. My recipe is free of refined carbohydrates and gluten, and it's a good source of protein, healthy fat, and antioxidants.

Use dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, because it’s the cocoa powder that contains healthy compounds shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke, and cancer.

I like to pair this dessert with the simplest home-made raspberry sauce. But if you prefer your chocolate without distraction, feel free to skip it.

  • Butter to coat ramekins
  • 7 ounces dark chocolate, 72% or darker
  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup or 8 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 eggs

Special Equipment:
  • 5 or 6 six-ounce ceramic oven-proof ramekins
  • Electric mixer

  1. Coat the insides of the ramekins with butter and set them aside.
  2. Warm the chocolate, butter and honey in a glass or stainless steel bowl over a pot of slowly simmering water. Cover and heat until just melted, stirring occasionally.
  3. Remove the melted chocolate mixture from the stove. Use an electric mixer to incorporate the cocoa powder, almond flour, sea salt and baking powder. Once smooth, beat in the eggs, one at a time, and mix well for another minute.
  4. Divide the mixture among the prepared ramekins. Cover tightly and transfer to the freezer until frozen solid (overnight or longer).
  5. To serve the mi-cuits, preheat the oven to 375F. Transfer them from the freezer to the oven and bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes or more, until the sides are cooked and the center is still shiny. Taking care not to burn yourself, run a knife or rubber scraper along the inside of each ramekin and unmold it onto a plate. Serve immediately, alone or with this simple raspberry sauce.

Simple Raspberry Sauce:
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries, thawed, with juices
  • 1 tsp honey
  1. Allow the raspberries to thaw in a dish at room temperature for up to 2 hours (or overnight in the fridge), then stir in the honey. 
  2. Serve immediately or store in an air-tight container in the fridge for future use.