Happy New Year! With the dawn of 2010, today I’m posting a healthy and delicious recipe I whipped up over a relaxing week spent with my sister and brother-in-law. We divided our time between chit-chatting over tea in the living room, ice-skating on frozen ponds, browsing busy shops and their after-Christmas sales, and—of course—enjoying good conversation over a week’s worth of good meals.
This year we held our second annual “Iron Chef” competition, which is meant to be a spoof on the popular TV show on Food Network. My brother-in-law, Mike, and I teamed up to create a meal utilizing three special ingredients assigned to us by the judges (my dad and sister). Last year’s ingredients were crab, rosemary, and shallots. They proved to be a rather difficult trio that didn’t quite fit well together flavor-wise. But this year was different. This year, Mike and I were spot on with our culinary creations.
Our ingredients? Wild Alaskan salmon, pineapple, and parsnips. A much more versatile bunch, if you ask me. Immediately we decided on doing a “tapas” theme, creating little appetizer-like bites instead of a big family-style meal. With the salmon and pineapple, we prepared Grilled Pineapple-Salmon Skewers with a Parsley-Ginger Dressing. Kudos go to Mike on that one. He nailed the grilled pineapple. We also prepared Herbed-Goat-Cheese Stuffed Roma Tomatoes and Brown Rice Timbales (don’t worry…I’ll post one or both of those recipes soon enough!).
With the parsnips, we decided to showcase their sweetness in a salad made of sauteed carrots, parsnips, and leeks and fresh arugula. First I sauteed matchsticks of the root vegetables in a knob of butter until they were tender but still held their shape. I removed the pan from the heat and hit it with a slash of fresh-squeezed Cara-Cara orange juice and a healthy drizzle of honey to bring out extra sweetness. Finally, to balance out the sweet veggies, we tossed them—still warm—with spicy arugula leaves. Mike’s pineapple skewers were good, but my heart was won by the bold and earthy flavors of this salad. I’ll be making it again soon. Very soon.
With 2010 here and another blank slate of a year before me, I look forward to dreaming up many new recipes that rival (or hopefully rise above and beyond) this one in the coming months. And I can’t wait until next year’s “Iron Chef” competition where Mike and I can once again don our chef’s jackets, sharpen our knives, and spend the evening working magic in the kitchen.
Above is a photo of the Iron Chef Champions—Mike and I.
Glazed Root Vegetable and Arugula Salad – Serves 4 as a side
3 tbs. butter
4-5 small parsnips (or 3-4 large), peeled and cut into 2 1/2 inch long matchsticks
2 small carrots (or 1 large), peeled and cut into 2 1/2 inch long matchsticks
1 large leek (white and light green parts only), cut into 2 1/2 inch long matchsticks
2 tbs. pure honey
Juice of one Cara-Cara orange (any variety of orange will work, though)
Salt, to taste
4-5 cups arugula leaves
Melt butter until it begins to foam and sizzle in a large, high-sided pan. Add parsnips, carrots, and leek. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for 5-6 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes until just tender to bite. Remove pan from heat.
Drizzle vegetables with honey and orange juice; sprinkle with salt. Cover pan with lid or tent with aluminum foil and allow the vegetables to sit for about 5 minutes. (This helps them tenderize even further in the acidity of the orange juice.)
Toss the vegetables with arugula leaves in a large bowl. Transfer to serving dish and serve right away.
(This post is linked to Friday Foodie Fix at The W.H.O.L.E Gang.)