Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pulp Non-Fiction: Main Meal Recipes

Myth: Vegetable pulp is waste.

Since acquiring my beautiful Breville juicer, I have made it my ongoing kitchen mission to debunk the aforementioned myth and discover different uses for the pulpy remains of juiced vegetables. What I have discovered is that these shreds are not trash, but treasure. They perform as a  wonderful thickener - a brilliant alternative to flour - giving consistency to the saucy, stew-y, and beyond! So instead of dumping it, use it. How, you ask?

Today I give you two unique main meals that incorporate the shredded remnants of carrots and beets separately. First batter up to the plate...

The pulp: Carrot
The dish: Ground Turkey with Brussels Sprouts
The sides: Curried Cauliflower Puree and Salad of Sliced Avocado, Cucumber, Tomato & Basil
Turkey doesn't only have to make its appearance during Thanksgiving. Forsake that entire big bird for the ground variety, and it can be a holiday meal anytime of the year. This recipe has the aura of turkey day, but with a flavorful, fun, and easy twist. For the main event you will need:
  • lean ground turkey (1-1.5 lbs)
  • carrot pulp (from approximately 5 juiced carrots)
  • Brussels sprouts, fresh or defrosted (1 lb)
  • diced large onion
  • dried cranberries (as many as you'd like!)
  • grated fresh ginger (depends how gingery you like it)
  • dried rosemary
  • touch of carrot juice
  • salt & black pepper to taste
  • garlic powder
In a large skillet with raised edges (or a shallow pot), saute your diced onion with the dried cranberries and grated ginger until the onions are softened to a translucent gold, seasoning this layer with rosemary and black pepper. Then throw in your magic ingredient: carrot pulp, letting it blend with the other ingredients and cook through. Time for your turkey. Warm that up, constantly moving it through out the pan and incorporating all the mix-ins. Lastly, toss in the Brussels sprouts and hit this layer with another stroke of seasoning, including a light sprinkle of garlic powder. Once the turkey has mostly cooked through, pour in a bit of carrot juice, cover the pan, and let the turkey absorb that juice along with the rest of the flavors. The longer it simmers on low heat, the more the mix will meld. The Brussels sprouts are a lovely robust vegetable, whose satisfying chew compliments the light ground meat morsels.
 
You may have noticed the carrot plays double agent in this recipe; the pulp adding texture to the turkey, and the juice keeping that lean meat moist. And of course, the orange veggie contributes a wonderfully sweet nuance. No waste here.

A Thanksgiving spread also calls to mind a side of smashed potatoes. But since our turkey is already lean, let's keep it healthy and serve up this light and refreshing alternative.

Curried Cauliflower Puree
  • cauliflower, fresh or frozen (1 lb)
  • chicken stock (or whatever stock you prefer)
  • fresh mint
  • peeled garlic cloves (2-4, depending on how fond you are of garlic breath)
  • curry powder
  • black pepper
  • a blender (or a strong arm for mashin')
Cook your cauliflower, as you would your potatoes, so that they are tender. (I steamed mine.) Place them into a pot with a few garlic cloves and a touch of chicken stock to allow for easier pureeing. As this cooks on low heat, season with black pepper and curry powder. Once the garlic has softened and the stock has reduced a bit, this is when the mashing magic - or your Magic Bullet - begins. I thought I could kick it old school and began mashin' by hand. I quickly realized I am not old school in every respect and busted out my Magic Bullet, allowing it to do all the pureeing for me. If you are blending, throw fresh mint in and let the blades chop away. If you are mashin' by hand, it will also have some mint choppin' to do. (No need to lift weights today!) 

Whatever your technique, the result will be the same: a glorious vegetable in the guise of a starch. So if it looks like mashed potatoes, and it feels like mashed potatoes, don't be so certain it is mashed potatoes. Fool your guests until their first bite. The garlic is reminiscent of the familiar staple, but the curry and fresh mint give the puree a twist that will tickle your taste buds into cauliflower submission.

The heartiness of both the ground turkey and the cauliflower puree will surprise you, considering how healthy they are. We have the warmth of the savory and the smooth. Now all we need is a cold, crisp salad. Enter a few a of my favorite things...

Avocado, Tomato, Cucumber & Basil Salad
Simply slice these vegetables and layer them with fresh basil leaves. Give it a sprinkle of black pepper, a squeeze of lemon, and a drizzle of red wine vinegar. What could be easier and more refreshing to serve alongside our carrot-twisted turkey and curried cauliflower? This spread satisfies a million times over, with the pulp winningly supporting the main event.

~

The next scoring meal really showcases pulp in its role as thickening agent.

The pulp: Beet
The dish: Chicken Fricassee
The side: Spinach Salad with Tomatoes, Bell Peppers, Cucumber, & Mint
I love this main meal because it is a one-pot shot - no need for a dozen dirty dishes. Low and slow is the name of the game, Crock-Pot not necessary. But these things are:
  • skinless chicken cutlets (or any cut, bones optional, 2lbs)
  • beet pulp (from 3 large beets)
  • unseasoned tomato sauce (8 oz)
  • chicken stock (or water)
  • peeled carrots (about 4 medium-sized)
  • broccoli, fresh or frozen (1 lb)
  • chopped asparagus
  • sliced mushrooms
  • sliced large onion
  • minced garlic
  • dried rosemary
  • dried oregano
  • black pepper
  • bay leaves (2-3)
  • garlic powder
  • paprika
Rub your chicken with black pepper, paprika, garlic powder, oregano, rosemary and minced garlic. Set your pot to high heat and sear both sides of the chicken so that it develops a dark golden crust and the flavor bits are left at the bottom of the pot. Remove and set the chicken aside. With the heat still high, deglaze the pot with a splash of chicken stock (or water if you don't have any stock), loosening and scraping up all the bits of flavor stuck to the pan. After the stock has mostly evaporated, this reduction will serve as you flavor base. In it, saute the onions, carrots, asparagus and mushrooms. Once all the vegetables have softened, add the beet pulp to the saute, incorporating it with another layer of seasoning. As the liquid evaporates and the saute dries, continue to splash in stock to keep it from burning. Add the broccoli last, quickly sauteing it with the rest and then pouring the tomato sauce into the pot. Add the bay leaves and rest of the chicken stock, and place the chicken pieces back into the pot. Allow the whole thing to come to a bubbling boil and then reduce the heat to low and cover it.

The great news is that the rest happens without you. Remember low and slow? Just leave the fricassee simmering away for as long as you'd like. Of course, the longer you do, the deeper and more blended the ingredients become. The beet pulp acts as a sponge, absorbing a lot of liquid, and consequently harnessing a lot of flavor. It plumps up and inconspicuously gives the stew a supple viscosity. Who knew. The result is moist chicken that falls apart among a thick pool of tender, stewed vegetables. And the true secret ingredient that gives the tomato sauce base the fricassee flavor profile are the bay leaves, so do not leave them out!
This hot saucy stew plates well with a fresh leafy greens. On a bed of spinach, lay chopped red bell peppers, tomatoes and cucumber. Add the taste of spring with herbaceous chopped mint and fresh lemon juice. Put it all together and you've rounded out with your meat, your veggies, and your roughage. What more do you need?


So there you have it: two hearty and substantial dishes facilitated by the discovered truth of pulp greatness. Let these recipes make a believer out of you.

~

*More of Rebe's Recipes posting soon. The next pulpy contenders are cucumber compost and more bright beetiness . Can you guess how I use them? Hint: One is a saucy staple and the other can be your breakfast, lunch or dinner. Check back for these!