Our pastor was talking about his child with Down's Syndrome. He showed videos of him laughing and dancing even when there was no music playing, and in short, relayed what an unexpected source of joy he has been to their family. A child whose condition is thought to be a burden, has enabled every person in their family to take note of the little things. The difference he noted in his sweet three year old boy, is that he feels entitled to nothing and therefore can find joy in anything. My eyes teared, an easy feat actually, but anyone would have, with humility tugging on you throughout his story.
We hear the word "joy" this time of year and we can look right through it. It's a season of sparkly gifts and things, but I want to stay focused on what actually fills me up. It makes me so happy when I come home late from work and Hugh has remembered to plug in the lights around our front door. We don't have a timer and our eyesore of an extension chord is huge and bulky, but the sentiment that my sweet husband plugs them in just for me, fills me with joy. It's in the small things, the unexpected things. And while there will be dissappointment, sorrow and loss, there is also joy when you look for it.
I'm sure you've caught on by now that I am not much for give-aways or product review, but when I was invited to try a few things from Gilt Taste, I made an exception to my self imposed rule. This website has some pretty fabulous artisan food products and is backed by a number of respectable names in the food world. They sent me a CSA-style box filled with some of the most gorgeous vegetables I'd seen in quite a while. So the following is what I came up with from a few of the contents in the box, assisted by a few staples in my pantry and fridge. While there's plenty of flavor on this plate, as is, I could see this as wonderful base for a vegetarian entree, maybe with a tender whole grain added in, or a basic protein of your choice.
BALSAMIC ROASTED ROOTS + SPINACH SAUCE // Serves 4
As per any recipe I write, you need to trust your gut. The vegetable roasting timing may vary, and the sauce, because it is textured, is forgiving, so alter the flavors as you wish.
1 lb. Assorted Small Carrots
1 lb. Assorted Small Beets
2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar, divided
1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
1 Bunch Fresh Spinach Leaves
1 Large Clove Garlic, minced
2 tsp. Unsalted Butter
1/2 Cup Light Whipping Cream or Whole Milk
1/3 Cup Finely Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 tsp. Prepared Horseradish, optional
Squeeze of Fresh Meyer Lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper to taste
Microgreens for Garnish
Scrub the beets and carrots clean. Peel the beets with a vegetable peeler, doesn't have to be perfect. Lay them out to dry on a dishcloth (use a dark one, the beets bleed).
Preheat the oven to 425'. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Toss the dry roots in the olive oil, salt and pepper to coat. Sprinkle half the balsamic and toss again. Roast the vegetables on the middle rack anywhere from 30-45 minutes depending on size. You want to be able to pierce a butter knife through the largest vegetable on the tray.
While the vegetables are cooking, make your spinach sauce. Steam the spinach for just a minute or two to cook down. Remove to cool. Squeeze out any remaining water and chop well. You should have about a cup worth.
In a medium saute pan over medium low heat, add a drizzle of olive oil and the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add the butter to melt, stir it around. Add the chopped spinach and cream and stir to coat. Cook until the spinach absorbs most of the cream. Stir in the parmesan, few pinches of salt and pepper, horseradish if using and stir. Using a mini blender or immersion blender, give the spinach a few pulses to break it down. You don't want quite a puree, more of a texture sauce, some chunks are fine. Add it back to the pan and thin with milk/cream if you wish. Squeeze in a bit of fresh lemon juice to taste. Turn off the heat and cover to keep warm. When the vegetables are ready, remove to cool slightly and drizzle on the remaining balsamic. Plate each portion with a schmear of the spinach sauce, the roasted vegetables and microgreens for garnish. Round out the meal however you wish.
* The assorted carrots, beets, spinach, garlic and microgreens were sent to me by Gilt Taste while the text and recipe are my own.