Sunday Not-So-Fun Day

Eating is an emotional activity. We all know the clichéd pint of ice cream in a woman’s clutches can mean only one thing: she’s having man trouble. A complex carb binge fills the vacuum of an impossibly frustrating workday. Chicken soup soothes the soul, etc. etc. For me, slipping on my yellow polka-dot apron and making (rather than eating) food is the best antidote to a poisonous mood.

Sunday evenings I typically shut down at around 3:00 or 4:00pm, especially during the fall and winter when it’s so freakishly dark I begin to wonder whether the apocalypse is at hand. I rarely venture out on a Sunday night, preferring to stay home and pout because the next day is Monday, and Mondays stink. But even in the drippiest of moods, I manage to peel myself off the couch to make dinner. On this week’s menu: roasted beets, sautéed beet greens, spiced nuts, and even apple-prune braised pork and cream of carrot for the next day. Now, don’t you think Negative Nancy deserves a gold star?

Serves 2
Serve salad alongside seared or grilled chicken breast. Extra lovely with a wedge of soft, peppery cheese like Constant Bliss.

For the Spiced Nuts
Spiced nuts can be made up to a week in advance and stored in a Ziploc bag.

1 large egg white
1 tablespoon water
2 cups walnuts or pecans
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon coriander
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon salt

– Preheat oven to 300 degrees and adjust a rack to middle position.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

– Whisk egg white and water together in a medium bowl.  Add the nuts and toss to coat. Whisk the remaining ingredients together in a separate medium bowl.  Add the nuts and toss until well-coated with sugar mixture.

– With a rubber spatula, spread the nuts out on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the nuts are crisp and fragrant, about 45 minutes.

– Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and cool completely. Break nuts apart with your hands and store in a Ziploc bag.

For the Beet Salad
Warning! If you have latex gloves, use them, as the beets will stain your fingers. You might want to wear an old t-shirt, too. You’ll only need 3 roasted garlic cloves; use the remaining garlic cloves as a spread on crusty buttered bread.

1 bunch beets with greens attached (4 to 6 golf ball-sized beets), beets scrubbed and greens thoroughly washed
1 head garlic
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 orange
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper

– Preheat oven to 400 degrees and adjust a rack to middle position. Trim the greens from the beets, discard the stems, and coarsely chop the greens. Trim off the part of the beet that looks like a rat tail. Wrap the beets individually in foil, place them directly on the oven rack, and roast until fork-tender, 1 to 1 ½ hours. Cut off the top quarter of the head of garlic. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil, cover with trimmed top, wrap in foil, and roast alongside the beets.

– When cool enough to handle, unwrap the beets, peel, and cut them into ½-inch-thick slices. Unwrap the garlic and squeeze out 3 cloves. Reserve beets and garlic in separate bowls.

– Peel the orange with a sharp paring knife, making sure to remove the rind and the white pith.  Working over a bowl, cut between the membranes to remove the orange segments. Reserve the segments and squeeze the juice from the orange.

– Add vinegar and mustard to the bowl with garlic and whisk to combine. Slowly drizzle in remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil and whisk to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper. Toss beets with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the mixture.

– Heat 3 tablespoons of the vinaigrette in a large skillet and sautée the chopped greens until wilted, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to colander set over large bowl. Drizzle with orange juice.

– Arrange the wilted greens, sliced beets, and orange segments on plates. Garnish with spiced nuts and serve.