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.