Written and compiled by Lori Jo and published on the Advantage Wellness Management Inc. blog, websites, and all their social medias but the company has since closed due to new health reform laws so I am publishing the work here as an example of my published work.
Some recipes modified by Lori Jo
Note: I am posting this because it is the first day of winter here in South America. I will re-post during the first few weeks of December for North American Readers as these dishes would be perfect for a Christmas feast.
When I entertain guests in my home, I always like to show them that food can be delicious and perfectly satisfying without meat. I live in Argentina and believe me, in this meat eating country that is not an easy feat. I think I am making progress because my guests always love what I cook and they eat every drop of food off their plates. My goal is for them to go home with the new found knowledge that vegetarian food can be just as delicious as non-vegetarian food.
I saw the dishes below while looking at the BBC Good Food website and I noticed some of them have typical Argentine ingredients such as polenta and some are typical Argentine fare such as the tart. We also eat a lot of fig, blue cheese, and couscous here (which are in some of the other recipes below) due to the mix of nationalities here and our climate. I have a fig tree in my garden now, which is full of baby figs! As soon as they are ripe, I plan to make figs in syrup to conserve them as well as eating them fresh. I plan to enjoy lots of fig (fresh or conserved), arugula, goat cheese, and candied walnut salads. I cannot wait!
After saving my favorite recipes that I thought would be nice for a colder weather Christmas, I went through the recipes and in some of them, I changed a few things, or created my own version. Some I left as is. For the tart, I changed the white flour crust for a whole-wheat flour and olive oil version. The changes were to make them healthier or tastier (to me). Do not be afraid to play around with or adjust recipes to your liking. Here our Christmases are in summer so a Southern Hemisphere Christmas is going to have a completely different menu style.
I think that putting all these dishes together will create a wonderful Christmas feast for everybody. With one appetizer, two main dishes and two side dishes, you are bound to please everybody at your table. Some of these dishes are heavier than the ones I usually write about but I think we all agree it is okay to splurge occasionally and especially in winter. I liked this Pâté appetizer because it uses butter beans (a type of small lima bean) and Melba toast rather than using fatty ingredients with fried accompaniments. If you have been reading my articles, you have learned that legumes are wonderful due to their nutritional content, iron, protein, and fiber.
In closing, in addition to a healthy diet, to accomplish our mission of employee wellness at Advantage Wellness Management Inc. we also recommend the following:
- Physical Activity
- Stress Management
- Self-Care and Lifestyle Disease Management
From all of us at AWMI, have a wonderful, healthy and prosperous Christmas!
Butter Bean, Lemon & Herb Pâté with Melba Toast(appetizer)
- Butter beans , soaked overnight and rinsed
- Juice of one lemon
- Zest of one lemon
- Extra virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp. ground cumin
- One garlic clove, finely minced
- One small handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
- Powdered paprika
- Melba toast for dipping
- Put the butter beans, lemon juice, zest, garlic, cumin and cilantro in a processor with 4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- Season with ground cumin, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Process until smooth or pulse for a chunkier texture
- Drizzle some olive oil on top and sprinkle with a little paprika for flavor and to add color
- Heat the Melba toast and serve
Fig and Blue Cheese Tart (main dish)
This dough recipe makes enough to line an 11- to 12-inch (28- to 30-cm) tart pan.
Olive Oil Whole Wheat Tart Crust Ingredients
(If you do not feel like making the crust buy a pre-made crust but this one is probably healthier)
- 8.8 oz. (250 g) light whole-wheat flour
- 1 tsp. fine sea salt
- 1 tsp. dried rosemary or thyme
- ¼-cup (60 ml) olive oil
- ½-cup (120 ml) cold water
- 100 g walnuts, chopped
Olive Oil Whole Wheat Tart Crust Method
- If pan does not have a nonstick coating, grease with butter
- Combine the flour, salt, and herbs in a medium mixing bowl. Add the oil and mix it in with a fork Add the water, mix with the fork until it is absorbed, then knead lightly
- Turn the dough out on a lightly floured work surface. Sprinkle a little flour on the ball of dough and on the rolling pin, and roll the dough out into a circle large enough to fit your tart pan. Turn the dough by 45 degrees (a quarter of a circle) every time you roll the pin and back, adding a little more flour underneath and on the dough when it seems on the verge of becoming sticky The trick is to do this in quick, assertive gestures to avoid overworking the dough
- Transfer the dough carefully into the prepared pan and line it neatly. Trim the excess dough (re-roll it and cut into decorative shapes to top the tart), and place the pan in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest
Fig and Blue Cheese Tart Filling Ingredients
- 3 eggs and two yolks
- 5 oz. (150 g) butter
- 14 oz. (400 g) shallots, sliced
- 1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, plus extra to decorate
- 7 oz. (200 ml) pot crème fraîche (this may be difficult to find but worth the effort, if you cannot find it, replace with heavy cream. Try looking near the gourmet cheeses section in your grocery store rather than near the dairy products. You may also find it in Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. As a last resort, you can find recipes to make it at home online that are simple to make.)
- 7 oz. (200 ml)heavy cream
- 5 oz. (140g) blue cheese – Danish Blue is a good vegetarian one
- 3-4 figs, halved, cut, and with the sides brushed with a little olive oil
Fig and Blue Cheese Tart Filling Method
- Heat oven to °400
- Melt butter in a large pan
- Add the shallots and soften for 10-15 minutes, until soft and golden
- Stir in the thyme for 1 minute, remove from the heat
- Beat the eggs in medium sized bowl along with the crème fraîche and cream
- Crumble in the cheese and season with freshly ground pepper and a small amount of sea salt
- Blind bake the pastry for 10 minutes (that means pre bake it a little before adding the filling)
- After blind baking the shell reduce the oven temperature °350
- Add the cooled onions to the cream mixture and pour into the crust
- Sit the fig halves on top, cut side up, sprinkle with some more thyme and bake on the middle shelf for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes. The tart needs to be browning and with a slight wobble – the cheese middle will firm up after sitting
- Cool for about 15-20 minutes, and then remove from tin
Polenta & Goat Cheese with Sweet Honey Dressing (main dish)
- 30 oz. (850 g) squash, peeled. I like butternut squash
- 5 medium beetroot , peeled
- 12 shallots , soaked in hot water for 5 minutes, then peeled and halved
- 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves , smashed flat
- 2 thyme and rosemary sprigs, plus 2 bay leaves, crumbled into small pieces with your hands, releasing their perfume
- 1 knob of butter , for browning
- 2 tbsp. sesame seeds , toasted
For The Spinach and Polenta
- 3 x 8.08 oz. (250g) bags spinach
- 1½ cups vegetable stock (you can make this suing vegetarian bouillon power or broth cube)
- 12 oz. (350g) quick-cook polenta
- 1.7 oz. (50g) butter
- 3 oz. (85g) finely grated vegetarian-style Parmesan cheese (Vegetarian Italian style hard cheese because Italian Parmesan is made with animal rennet)
- ½ tsp. nutmeg , freshly grated
- 2 x 3.5 (100g) log of goat’s cheese – the kind with rind
- Note: *Rennet is an enzyme that coagulates cow milk and turns it into cheese. The usual source of rennet is the stomach of slaughtered newly-born calves*
Sweet Honey Dressing
- 6 tbsp. Madeira (A Portuguese fortified wine from the Island of Madeira. If you cannot find substitute with dry sherry or red wine. It will lack the nutty flavor but it will add acidity)
- 1-2 tsp. clear honey , to taste
- 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp. tamari soy sauce
- 1 knob of butter
- 2 tbsp. each olive oil and extra-virgin olive oil , plus extra
- Small handful fresh flat-leaf parsley , roughly chopped
- For the spinach, boil a kettle and put half the spinach into a colander. Pour over the hot water until it wilts, then cool completely under cold water. Tip into a clean tea towel, then wring out every drop of water you can. Repeat with the other half
- For the polenta, bring the stock to a boil in a large pan, then stir in the polenta in a fine, steady stream, so to avoid any lumps. Keep cooking for five minutes, stirring all the time, until thick. Stir in the butter, Parmesan, half of the spinach, the nutmeg and plenty of seasoning, then leave to cool for a few minutes
- Meanwhile, slice each cheese into three rounds. Tear off six pieces of cling film, about 30cm across, then, while the polenta is still soft, spoon a sixth onto each square. Nestle the slices of cheese on top, then draw the edges of the cling film around and twist, to make burger shaped polenta cakes with the cheese completely sealed in the middle. Cool and chill for up to 2 days
- Cut the squash and beetroot into finger-tip-wide chunks. Keeping the beetroot separate, put the squash, shallots, 2 tbsp. extra virgin oil and half of the garlic and herbs into a large bowl, then rub well and leave to marinate for 1 hr. Do the same with the beetroot, remaining herbs, garlic and 1 tbsp. oil
- Heat a small knob of butter in a large non-stick frying pan, then fry the beetroot, herbs and garlic, for 10 minutes on a medium heat, stirring often until starting to color
- Tip into one end of a large roasting tin. Wipe out pan, then repeat with the squash and shallots in a little more butter, browning one-third at a time for five minutes, until tinged golden.
- Tip into the other end of the tin
- Heat oven to °375 (190C/170C fan/gas 5). Transfer the roasting tin to the oven and roast for 40 minutes. Cool the vegetables at room temperature at this stage then covered for up to 24 hours and crisped up in a hot oven for 15 minutes on the day
- After 40 minutes scatter the sesame seeds over the roasted vegetables, then tip the vegetables into a large bowl and keep warm. With the roasting tin over a low heat, splash in the Madeira, bubble it down to 2 tbsp., and then stir in the honey, balsamic, soy sauce and a little butter. Simmer until just starting to make a syrupy sauce, then stir in the olive oils. This can be made in advance and re-heated at the desired time
- Fifteen minutes before serving, heat a little oil and remaining butter in a large non-stick frying pan. Once sizzling, add the polenta cakes and fry on both sides for five minutes until golden. Fry in two batches and keep warm. Re-heat the remaining spinach in a pan for a few seconds, with a grating more nutmeg and a good pinch of seasoning
- Sit the polenta cakes on warmed plates, and top with some spinach. Stir parsley into the dressing. Toss the roasted vegetables with a few tsp. of the dressing, and then pile the vegetables on top of the polenta. Drizzle a little more dressing over and around, and then serve
Whole Baked Squash with Spiced Couscous (side or main dish)
Serves: two as main dish or four as a side
- 2 acorn squash or other small squash , tops sliced off, or 1 butternut squash, halved, seeds scooped out and brushed inside with olive oil
- 1 teacup couscous soaked in 1 teacup of boiling water with a few saffron threads
- 4 tbsp. pistachios
- 3 tbsp. parsley , chopped
- 1 tsp. harissa, depending on how hot you like it
- 1 tsp. ras-el-hanout (optional) available from seasonedpioneers.co.uk
- Butter , melted to serve
- 2 tbsp. dried sour cherries or dried cranberries
- Pomegranate molasses (optional) available from Middle Eastern shops or Sainsbury’s Special Selection
- Heat the oven to °350 (200C/fan 180C/gas 6). Roast the squash for 30-40 minutes or until tender. Mix the rest of the ingredients together, stuff the squash and bake for a further 10 minutes
- Serve with extra melted butter and pomegranate molasses (if using) spooned over
Make ahead up to the stuffing stage then bake for 30 minutes to heat through
Pea, Tarragon, and Cream Cheese Pithivier (side dish)
- 1 onion , finely chopped and cooked in a knob of butter until soft
- 5.3 oz. (150 g) frozen peas , defrosted
- 4.4 oz. (125 g) cream cheese , beaten until soft
- Small bunch fresh tarragon(estragon in Spanish),chopped
- ½ lemon , zested
- Handful fresh, flat leafed parsley , chopped
- 17.6 oz. (500 g) pack puff pastry , rolled out and cut into 2 x 14 cm circles and 2 x 16 cm circles
- 1 egg , beaten
- Heat the oven to °390 (200C/fan 180C/gas 6). Mix all the ingredients together except the pastry and egg
- Lay the two smaller pastry circles out on a baking sheet and heap the filling in the middle, brush around the edges with egg and lay the bigger circles on top. Press the edges together with a fork, score a pattern on the top and brush with egg
- Bake for 25 minutes or until puffed and golden
- “Butter bean, lemon & herb pâté with melba toast”. Good Food Magazine. BBC Worldwide. Web. November, 2006.
- “Butter bean, lemon & herb pâté with melba toast”. Good Food Magazine. BBC Worldwide. Web. November, 2006.
- “Easy Olive Oil Tart Crust”. Chocolate&Zucchini. ClotildeDusoulier. Web. May 26, 2009.
- “Pea Tarragon and Cream Cheese Pithivier”. Olive Magazine. BBC Worldwide. Web. December, 2007.
- “Polenta & goat’s cheese stacks“. Good Food Magazine. BBC Worldwide. Web. January, 2010.
- “Whole Baked Squash with Spiced Couscous”. Good Food Magazine. BBC Worldwide. Web. November, 2006.
- Sarah Cook. “Fig & Blue Cheese Tart”. Good Food Magazine. BBC Worldwide. n.d. Web. December, 2007.