Crunchy Broccoli Bowl

Beloved broccoli! We’re still trying to figure out how to grow as massive-looking heads as we see at the farmers market, but can’t resist trying year after year – because broccoli truly is one of our dearest vegetables. And the way it’s prepared here is probably our favorite way: we let it dive headfirst into boiling water, but only for a minute or so. Then we let it drain in a colander and voila – we have bright green and crunchy broccoli, but without that raw bite. No mushy business here. When you cook broccoli this way, it turns into the most excellent salad component as it retains its shape entirely.

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Winter Ratatouille With Wheat Berries

Bowl of pearled wheat with tomato sauce and winter vegetables.

Calling this a ratatouille might be a stretch, we know. And even though Wikipedia’s definition is forgivingly vague (“Recipes and cooking times differ widely, but common ingredients include tomato, garlic, onion, zucchini, eggplant, bell pepper and some combination of leafy green herbs”), I feel like maybe we should have just called it a winter stew?

Anyway, here it is – and it’s rather divine. Not particularly French, perhaps, but divine nonetheless. Soft cubes of butternut squash in a creamy tomato sauce, boosted with kidney beans, kale and warming spices. Served over a bed of chewy wheat berries, it’s one of those comforting dishes that this time of year asks for time upon time. We like to make a big batch on a Sunday evening and then rest assured that we have at least a few dinners prepared for the week right there. And as with most stews, this one only gets better after a day or two, when the flavors have really blended and the creaminess somehow multiplied.

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Root Vegetable Grain Bowl

Ah, wheat berries. Again. You’ll have to excuse us, but we love them! Nuttier and chewier than rice and about a million times more eco-friendly, it’s a winner any day. Another fun grain alternative is naked oats (Swedish: nakenhavre). Have you ever tried it? Really good as well, and actually even more of a nutritional power house than wheat berries, with higher protein content among other things. We’re working on developing some recipes with naked oats too, so stay tuned! But anyway. I think the first time wheat berries ended up in our home was back in New York, when Mike bought some with the intention of making his own wheat flour. Only, his coffee grinder surprisingly didn’t do the trick (it was hysterically funny) so the box was forgotten about for a while until one of those let’s-clean-out-the-cabinets cooking endeavors took place, and those wheat berries were put in a kale salad of some sorts. Since then, they’ve become a staple, and I’d say we eat wheat berries at least once a week.

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Winter “Spring” Risotto

Hey, what’s this business about? Well, it’s a risotto that oozes spring (well, at least a little) while only relying on ingredients perfectly available this time of the year (a.k.a. winter). Having a bag of frozen green peas on hand can be a gold mine when time is limited, when vegetables are lacking on the plate or when you feel a little sick and tired of cabbage and root veggies (it happens to us too). They cook in literally no time at all, pack tons of nutrients, cost close to nothing, love growing in Sweden/places where it’s cold… it’s a winner any day of the week. When added to a risotto, they even feel quite fancy and sophisticated. Personally, we feel like peas don’t have nearly as good of reputation as they should – but we’re here to change that.

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Fava Bean Patties

For those of you unfamiliar with the looks of fava beans (or “broad beans” as they’re also called), they come in long, flat-ish, light green pods when seen fresh, and they’re quite exquisite. They’re also a p-a-i-n to peel. Actually, speaking of peeling them – both Mike and I can still recall this one really funny story our good friend Grant once told us, about when he was out at a nice restaurant and ordered fresh fava beans as a starter. Aware of the hassle of peeling fava beans, he was very excited at the thought of getting to enjoy this early summer delicacy without having to do anything himself. Well, or so he thought. You can easily imagine his disappointment when the waiter put down the plate in front of him, and all he could see was a pile of pods… He had to roll up his sleeves and peel them all himself!

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Wheat Berry “Fried Rice”

If it wasn’t for the fact that “fast food” has the world’s worst connotation, I’d go ahead and call this top-notch vegetarian fast food for athletes (and others too, of course). It packs in protein, slow carbohydrates, vegetables, plenty of flavor AND comes together in literally 20 min, start to finish. We often have this for lunch, in order to be ready to go for an afternoon run a few hours later. This time of year, we often crave something warming for lunch, while summertime often sees a sandwich, wrap or salad bowl come midday. Traditionally, it’s obviously made with rice, and while rice is delicious and all, we tend to opt out whenever we can, in favor for more eco-friendly alternatives. Swapping rice for wheat or oat berries is an excellent way to reduce your carbon footprint, which we of course try to do as much as we possibly can. Carrots and peas are among the superstars when it comes to food and emissions – primarily field grown and lovers of the Nordic climate, these are staples almost all year round at our house.

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Slow Cooked Kale Bowl

Michael deserves all the credit for developing this dish (of my dreams). I literally think I could eat slow cooked dino kale every day of the week – especially when cooked like this, with onions, garlic, fresh rosemary (the key!) and a dash of red pepper flakes. It’s the ultimate topping for any type of grain in your bowl – be it wheat berries, which is our favorite + available locally, rice, quinoa or pasta – and it works wonderfully with just about any vegetables on the side. All in all, it’s the easiest meal to adjust based on the time of year. We still have tomatoes aplenty in our garden, and the combination between the slight acidity of those and the sweet-spicy of the kale is perfect. Once the tomatoes say goodbye for this year, I bet we’ll stir in broccoli florets instead – or maybe parsnip wedges.

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