A vegetarian bollito misto and a box full of goodness

There are stacks of packages and boxes at my door these days. The craziness of the holidays as I call it. But there was a special box waiting at the door for me last week – a box full of goodness. It came from Gilt Taste via Farmer Jones’ Farm. Products that I was invited to taste and cook with.

I rushed to the kitchen to see what was in it.

A colorful array of tiny beets, carrots, potatoes, spinach, herbs, microgreens, edible flowers, and the most tender garlic. Fresh, still dirt on, and fragrant. I couldn’t wait to start cooking.

“All these beautiful vegetables deserve to be the star of a dish” I said to myself.

Somehow I thought about the special meal I had at Rendezvous in Boston a couple of years ago with Lara, Bea, and Pascale. I still talk about that meal. It was the summer vegetable bollito misto that left me totally inspired that day. Delicate summer vegetables lightly simmered in a vegetable broth and served over truffled polenta.

The root vegetables could really make a heartier version of that vegetable bollito misto I had then. And so it did.

I steamed the beets separately to keep their color. So gorgeous.

Yellow, white, red, and candy-stripe.

I lightly cooked the purple, orange, red, and white carrots in the vegetable broth I made with many aromatics and the herbs that arrived from Farmer Jones’ Farm. Also in that broth went the tiniest red, purple, and yellow potatoes. It reminded me of the menestra de verduras my mom makes, minus the beets.

I served it over brown butter and herb polenta and garnished it with some edible flowers and microgreens.

Can you close your eyes and imagine that smell?

And that wasn’t all.

Over the weekend, I made myself a salad of steamed potatoes and beets tossed in a spinach and almond pesto and served over toasted slices of seeded bread (recipe will be in my book) with soft-boiled eggs and microgreens.

A tartine of sorts.

And to top it all off, I made apple and carrot muffins.

Like I said, a box full of goodness.

Vegetable Bollito Misto with Brown Butter and Herb Polenta

serves 4 to 6

4 small beets (assorted colors and shapes), stems cut off, but leave a bit of the top
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1/2 medium leek, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
bunch of fresh parsley
6 cups cold water
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound (450 g) small potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
6 small carrots (assorted colors), peeled and cut into different shapes (some rounds and the thinest ones in half lengthwise)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup quick-cooking polenta
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh herbs (thyme, oregano, rosemary, parsley)
Microgreens and edible flowers (optional)

Steam the beets until fork tender, about 20 minutes depending on their size. Let them cool. Peel and slice them. Reserve for plating.

In a medium pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion, leek, garlic, and celery. Cook for 5 minutes until tender, but not brown. Add the thyme, bay leaf, parsley, water, salt, and black pepper. Bring liquid to a boil, cover the pot, reduce heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes. This will be the base for the vegetable broth we will use to cook the potatoes and carrots and also for the polenta.

Add the potatoes and cook for 5 to 7 minutes until almost tender. Add the carrots and cook for another 5 minutes or until soft. Do not overcook the vegetables or they will fall apart. Set the broth aside. Measure 3 cups of vegetable broth (without the vegetable pieces) and transfer to a medium pot.

In a small saute pan, cook the butter until the solids start to brown. Remove from heat.

Bring the vegetable broth to a boil. Add the polenta in a steady stream while whisking so it doesn’t form clumps. Continue whisking the polenta until it thickens, about 1 minute. Remove the pot from heat and add the brown butter and herbs. Whisk to combine.

Serve the polenta immediately on the bottom of a bowl. Top with the reserved beets, potatoes and carrots with their own vegetable broth. Garnish with microgreens and edible flowers.


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73 Responses to “A vegetarian bollito misto and a box full of goodness”

  1. so beautiful, those vegetables are mouth watering!

  2. tinajo says:

    Looks beautiful and I bet it tastes the same! :-)

  3. cafenoHut says:

    your all photos are unique… I can look them during all day…

  4. Carmen says:

    Estoy cerrando los ojos…mmmm que rico huele.bs

  5. rolala says:

    The Vegetable Bollito Misto looks deliciously gorgeous!

  6. What an inspiring box- I wish I had that waiting at my doorstep. I liek how you’ve paired the root veggies withe the polenta. I’m sure it would have tasted delightfully earthy. And I love getting inspiration when I eat out too!

  7. I’m glad you took such a minimalist approach. In my opinion, the best thing to do with fresh veggies that are that gorgeous is to eat them raw. So beautiful! All of those veg are more vibrant and colorful than any artificial dyes you will ever see!

  8. Nature produces such magnificent veggies. What wonderful recipes, great presentation and lovely pictures.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  9. Sandy says:

    Oh Aran, there is only one word for these outstanding pictures – Art! I hope, I could join a photography-workshop one day. Looking at your pictures enriches my day, greetings from germany, Sandy

  10. Elena says:

    Hi Aran,
    Thank you for a wonderful post! I love, love everything you cook; I cooked a lot of your recipes already and they are always delicious!
    I would like to kindly ask you the origin of the scissors in the last post? I was looking for a long time for something like that without much of a success…

  11. Elena- I got those a few years ago at a gardening shop. I think they are called Chinese shears so if you google that I’m sure you will find them. I have seen antique versions of them as well, very cute.

    thanks all!

  12. the veggies are so beautiful! i feel spring already. Happy holidays!!

  13. Monica says:

    Tus post me encantan, pero este especialmente me ha enamorado. Unos colores maravillosos.

  14. Absolutely gorgeous photos and inspiring food! It makes you happy just looking at it!

  15. I’m a terrible cook (well, I’m learning) but I literally visit your blog because your photos are just so gorgeous in and of themselves! I’m sure they are delicious too but it’s a feast for the eyes for sure :-)

  16. I LOVE how fresh and beautiful your dishes look! So delish! You are over the top talented.

  17. Bárbara says:

    Unas fotografías espectaculares!! soy canaria,pero vivo en Tenerife.Te conocí hace una semana y quedé maravillada,hoy me has “paralizado” frente a la pantalla.GRACIAS por compartir, deseando estoy saber cuando será tu próximo workShoP!! :)

  18. This sounds and looks delicious. Yum.
    Will your book be on preorder? And if so, when? Can’t wait. :)

  19. Karine- My book won’t be out until fall of 2012… long time still. Not sure when it will be available for pre-order, but when it is, I will announce it here.

    Thank you very much!

  20. These pictures are art work. I cannot wait until your book comes out. You are such an inspiration to cook and photograph food. Lovely food!

  21. Kimberley says:

    I am so impressed by your efforts, Aran! You used everything! Can’t wait to use my remaining produce in your recipe and in Ashley’s. Stunning.

  22. arnela.o says:

    Everything on photos looks great, fresh and yummyy. Beautiful.

  23. I know it’s corny, but I can’t help myself . . . as pretty as a picture. :)

  24. What a healthy recipe!!!! And lovely pictures…. Kisses from Spain

  25. Eleganteak eta espektakularrak argazkien koloreak, begiegaz jateko modukoak!

    Gabon zoriontsuak opa deutsudaz!
    Besarkada bat, Miren Bego

  26. Looks delicious. Especially those beets. Also, love that long rectangular plate. Is that an elephant ceramics piece?

  27. Ana_ILTdP says:

    Hola!
    Interesting concept, I’ve never heard about bollito misto before, I am from Madrid and googling it, it seems like a sort of cocido to me? could it be? Well, if it’s like your mom’s menestra, could be, right?
    Very colorful vegetables and I love the poached eggs!

  28. I’ve never heard of Bollito Misto, but woah, I’ve been missing out! What a gorgeous color combination — looks like it’d be so comforting and grounding to eat, too.

  29. Miren Bego- zuek be gabon zoriontsuek paseu eta urte barri on! besarkada handi bet danori eta eskerrik asko.

    Brandon- No that is made by Monika Dalkin :)

    Ana & Lauren- bollito misto is an Italian dish made with lots of different kinds of meat and sausages and vegetables (usually potatoes and carrots are in it). It literally means “boiled mix”.

    Thank you everyone!

  30. Aran, your photography blows me away every. single. time! A gorgeous box of goodies and a delicious time you have had. Can’t wait to see, buy, pour over and bake from your book when it’s here!

  31. Tammie Lee says:

    everything looks and sounds gorgeously delicious!

  32. What a gorgeous box of goodies your received and how you turned them into something spectacular! Thanks for the gorgeous photo’s and great inspiration!

  33. bette says:

    I really like your photography (and the recipes ;-), but please consider giving the tiny leaves a break. they turn up in almost all of your pictures. After a while they can become a huge distraction – or more like an obsession for me. Your pictures don’t need tiny leaves to be interesting and aesthetically pleasing.

  34. I love your pictures!

    I’ve just started my blog and have been following your the past couple of weeks. I admire all your pics! They are amazing! Please feel free to visit my blog and give me some shints and tips.

    http://meandmysweets.blogspot.com/

  35. Dena says:

    I just love the colors and the shapes in these photos. You give the vegetables and warm and wonderful glow, arrange them masterfully. And the dishes are a fantastic antidote to heavy holiday foods. Kudos. And have a wonderful holiday season.

  36. Dena says:

    I just love the colors and the shapes in these photos. You give the vegetables and warm and wonderful glow, arrange them masterfully. And the dishes are a fantastic antidote to heavy holiday foods. Kudos. And have a wonderful holiday season.

  37. Carl says:

    I can’t eat a meal like that. Surely, I’d only be staring at my food. It’s too colorful. Love it!

  38. Mary Ann in Vermont, says:

    So captivatingly beautiful and amazing. The colors just pop with freshness and goodness, dear Aran. And, your teeny tiny green herbs always add that special sweetness to your photos that draws me in like a magnet!

    Enjoy the business of this time of year,
    xo, Mary Ann

    ps…I wish for kindness and gentleness abound…folks, please remember the saying—If you do not have anything nice to say than do not say anything.

  39. Kelly says:

    Hi Aran – Wow, those veggies are gorgeous! And what a perfect way to cook them. I bet they were delicious too :) Happy Holidays!

  40. garlutti says:

    Hello. That great recipes … precious photos .. I’ll buy you a crispy white beans in my blog .. bsssMARIMI

  41. Gosh, I am so glad to have discovered your blog. These are the most beautiful food photographs I have ever seen. Incredible.

  42. blumpastor says:

    I love the photos and would love to eat it. I have been thinking about the soup in the photo but not in the recipes for the last few days. Is it a simple squash and red lentil soup? It looks wonderful. Thanks for the ideas!

  43. Blumpastor- that recipe will be in my book! :)

    Thank you!

  44. GG says:

    Whar beautiful vegetables, a really inspiring parcel that you did admirable justice to. GG

  45. so beautiful Aran! I am so inspired!
    I opened your card today–so beautiful–just a quick THANK YOU while I stop for a moment-properly done very soon–oxoxo

  46. and the muffin recipe?
    anyway, it’s funny, because some time ago I posted a similar recipe:

    http://fuxifurlana.blogspot.com/2011/10/bollito-misto-non-bollito.html

    of course, I didn’t take amazing pictures like you… but the dish is the same!
    Best whishes

    Teresa

  47. Maja says:

    Aran, everything looks gorgeous!Photos are stuning!

  48. Juliana says:

    What beautiful vegetables! The colors are so vivid. It certainly isn’t hard to be inspired when looking at them. I wish a box like that landed on my doorstep!

  49. Mary Ann- you are too kind… Thank you!

    Deb- oh I’m so glad you liked it. I miss you!

    Teresa- That looks really really good! I will read carefully to see how you did it (it’s easy to read Italian once you speak Spanish :))

    Thanks all!

  50. Hannah says:

    The colours in this post are absolutely fantastic! And it all looks delicious!

  51. Stephanie says:

    This is stunning. I love the root vegetables this time of year. You’ve captured them beautifully.

  52. beautiful! one of these days I want to be there with you cook and eat. xoRo

  53. Beets are so beautiful! Your potato/beet/pesto lunch looks amazing!

  54. I adore the colors here, Aran… and the wonderful preparation of these ingredients. They look marvelous!

  55. Sarah says:

    Looks like a flower garden on your plate, beautiful photography.

  56. Little one can do to make these vegetables better. Jewels in the garden right?

    Thank you for your kind words all and hope you are enjoying the holiday season!

  57. DANA says:

    I have a new website, http://www.glutenfreedomblog.com that I am trying to spread the word about! I love yours! I am having huge giveaways from many wonderful gluten free companies soon and was wondering if you would help me get the word out?! Thanks!

  58. This is exactly the kind of box I would be most happy to receive. I love how you kept it all so clean and fresh looking. I would rather eat this than cookies.

  59. LivinItRaw says:

    Your photos are beautiful and your food looks and sounds out of this world delicious. I was hoping to make the muffins today but I can’t seem to find the recipe for your Apple Carrot Muffins?

  60. Livingitraw- I will be posting the recipe soon. Stay tuned! Thank you!

  61. notyet100 says:

    This must have been so good,..

  62. First let me just say that your blog is gorgeous and I love all the vivid food pictures! They look like a fine dining restaurant.

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