Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Leftover Glory: Mixed Grains with Pumpkin and Brussels Sprouts

After being introduced to such a vast world of whole grains, there are some nights that I am spoiled for choice. A great solution is to whip up a big pot of mixed grains. Inspired by, I cooked one up on Sunday night and stored the rest in the fridge for a versatile, ready to go staple. It's a great idea because grains can take a long time to cook from scratch if you're putting them on at the end of the day - and this way, there's no need to decide what kind you want!

Now, let me profess my undying love for brussels sprouts! I am not crazy about fall or winter fruit (I'm a summer fruit gal) but I do love winter veggies. I can't get enough of brussels sprouts and have recently discovered a delicious, fast and easy way to cook them as an alternative to my usual roasting. This week I cooked them with some capers, chopped anchovies, crushed red pepper, and fresh lemon for a tasty (salty) twist. I made up a whole pan, and again, stored 'em in the fridge for a quick go-to veg. These I mixed with some roasted kabocha pumpkin, my favorite of the pumpkin/squash varietals.

Combined, these make a filling, toothy, fresh and healthy meal that you can heat up in under five minutes and enjoy throughout the week. For some protein, you could throw in tofu, beans, meat, or a handful of mixed nuts/seeds like I did today.

Mixed grains:
1/2 cup wheat berries
1/2 cup millet
1/2 cup pearl barley
1/2 cup whole oat groats
1/4 cup wild rice
1 t sea salt

1 small kabocha pumpkin
1 pound brussels sprouts, stems trimmed and halved (or quartered if extra large)
1/3 cup water
3 large garlic cloves, minced
3 T capers
5 anchovies in oil, drained
1 wedge fresh lemon
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
olive oil spray (or fresh olive oil)
sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Add'l toppings in photo (1 serving):
1 wedge avocado (about 1/8 of a small fruit)
1T (8g) walnuts, chopped
1/2T (8g) raw pumpkin seeds
1T fresh parsley, chopped*

Mixed grains:
Rinse and place in a large pot (I used a dutch oven) with about 5.5 cups of water (better too much than too little since you can always drain any excess water at the end). Add salt and bring to a boil before reducing to a simmer, uncovered, for about 35 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Pierce the pumpkin 4 times and cook for 45-60 minutes, depending on the size. When tender, but firm (easily pierced by a sharp knife), remove and let cool.

Place the brussels sprouts in a large pan with 1/3 cup water and cook covered on a medium high flame for 3 minutes or until tender. Remove the lid and allow to continue cooking so the water evaporates. Once the water is gone, spray generously with olive oil and toss to coat with the garlic and pepper flakes. Continue to toss constantly to avoid burning and ensure an even browning. Add the capers and anchovies once the garlic and sprouts start to get a nice brown, about 3 minutes. Toss for 1-2 more minutes and add a squeeze of lemon evenly over the mix. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Chop up the cooled pumpkin in to bite size pieces. I love the skin so I leave it on, but feel free to remove if that's a little too much roughage. Half a small pumpkin will mix nicely with the sprouts and the rest you can keep on hand for other uses. Just wrap and store in fridge.

A serving of mixed grains is 120g and 150 calories (and buckets of fiber!). Top this with 1/4-1/3 of the veggie mix and the additional toppings. All together, this bowl of greatness will run you 400 calories and give you that really satisfied, wholesome feeling of fullness. The kind I love best.

*I always keep fresh parsley (aka nature's multivitamin) on hand to toss on pretty much everything I eat (similar to my sprouted seeds and pesto). What I've found is that it keeps best, and is most likely to get eaten, if I wash and chop it as soon as I buy it. Then I dry and wrap in a paper towel and store in a ziplock bag in the fridge. It will keep for 1-2 weeks like this.