The Veggie Bowl

By MANDA HUDAK for the Flathead Beacon

The last month and a half has been all about food, from Thanksgiving dinner to holiday parties, and every morsel in between. By the time the last bowl game food fest is over, we are literally stuffed and ready to get healthy in the New Year. Often those good intentions don’t last because we perceive “good” food to be all those unhealthy, fatty, processed foods that have put this country in dire physical health. This is an upbeat column, so I won’t give you the statistics, but it is clear that we are killing ourselves with poor eating habits. We need to realize our patriotic duty to eat better. So this year, I propose that we have a collective “ah ha!” moment recognizing food is really most delicious and healthful in its natural form, without all those added preservatives, chemicals and processed sugars.

This “Bowl” recipe represents just the type of dietary decisions we should be enjoying. Let’s cut our staggering health expenses, start appreciating the access we have to the best food on the planet, and feel better with naturally delicious foods. This recipe is a basic guideline which can be expanded to include unlimited choices and flavors. Use any legumes, whole grain or pasta in place of rice (farro, quinoa, bulger wheat, etc.) and all your favorite vegetables, especially those in season with any sauce of natural ingredients. You can prep all the veggies in advance and then reheat them when you put it all together. Here’s to a healthy and delicious 2016. Bon Appetit!

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Honey Lime Winter Veggie Bowl, Serves4

Blanched Vegetables

2 cups cauliflower, petite florettes

2 cups broccoli, petite florettes

Roasted Root Vegetables

1 cup butternut squash, 1/2” dice

2 ea. parsnips, quartered slices

4 ea. carrots, thin, round slices

1 oz. oil, vegetable

To taste   garlic powder

Honey Lime Sauce

1 oz. Tamari

4 Tbsp. honey

1/2 cup lime juice, fresh (approx. three limes)

1 oz. oil, toasted sesame oil

1” fresh ginger, peeled, pressed through garlic press

1 tsp. sweet Thai chili sauce

Sautéed Vegetables

1 large red bell pepper, diamond cut

1 ea. zucchini, quartered slices

Rice

2 cups rice, jasmine

1 tsp. oil, toasted sesame

3 cups water, simmering

Garnish

2 ea. baby bok choy, cut in half lengthwise

9 ea. morel mushrooms, fried and rehydrated in 1/2 cup hot water

3 each scallions, thinly sliced on bias

Method

  1. Blanch vegetables separately in boiling water until tender. Remove from hot water with strainer and place in cold ice water to stop cooking process. Drain and pat dry.
  2. Toss root vegetables in oil and sprinkle with garlic powder. Place on foiled sheet pan in 400-degree oven for 10-12 minutes to soften.
  3. While root vegetables are cooking, make honey lime sauce. Combine all sauce ingredients and whisk thoroughly.
  4. Heat toasted sesame oil in saucepot. Add rice and stir to coat. Add hot water and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook until tender, approximately 15 minutes. Remove from heat and leave lid on for rice to complete steaming, 10 minutes.
  5. While rice is cooking, sauté bell pepper and zucchini in hot pan to cook and caramelize for color. Steam bok choy in covered pan with perforated steamer over simmering water until tender, approximately 5 minutes.
  6. Rewarm sautéed vegetables in saute pan or in microwave.
  7. Plate by placing rice in colorful bowl and top with vegetables. Add 2 oz. of sauce and garnish with mushrooms and scallion.

Manda Hudak is Savory Chef Instructor, Culinary Institute of Montana, Flathead Valley Community College