Gwyneth Paltrow’s Beet Salad With Mint + Scallion Pesto

Since I have posted wayyy to many sweet treats, I thought I’d take a break from it and serve up something lighter. Both in tone, taste and preparation. This one’s from- hold your breath- Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Turshen’s cookbook It’s All Good: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great.

This cookbook has been quite polarizing on the interwebs, much like Gwyneth herself. (I’ll admit I am not a big fan of her personality, her crusade as a lifestyle guru or her consciousness spiel, but I do like visiting her website Goop.com to browse through recipes- they have some good ones!)

Now the inside flap of the book starts off talking about Gwyneth’s “clear eyes, glowing skin and fit body…,” none of which I care for. I’m quite happy with my eyes (they are neither bloodshot nor cloudy,) and my skin is pretty ok for someone who does not apply much of anything to it, and as for my body, it’s definitely not Tracy Anderson Method-approved, but I manage to get some exercise each day and I am at peace with it. (I’m not walking any red-carpets, so I don’t feel the need to get my body “red-carpet ready!!!”)

Oh yes, back to the book.

image courtesy | eater.com

image courtesy | eater.com

Now, there are some paragraphs that are pretentious, along with some cringe-worthy pictures that don’t really make sense. Like, for instance, GP riding a Vespa, and another one where she is sideward-glancing while wrapped in a blanket. And of course, there is name-dropping: recipes from her ‘besties’ Cameron Diaz and Gavin Rossdale…but she’s a celebrity, and celebrities befriend celebrities, so it is but natural that they swap recipes, no? So yes, there are few portions you’d want to skim over, but once you do, you’ll realize that there are some pretty neat recipes beneath it all.

image courtesy | eater.com

image courtesy | eater.com

The book is based on GP’s elimination diet and many, many everyday products are avoided, like dairy, gluten, sugar, coffee. (I don’t have any issues with dairy or gluten, so I used whole wheat pasta where brown rice pasta is called for, and cow’s milk where a recipe called for almond/rice milk. The flavours are great, and since I’m not planning to get on a diet, I tweaked away.) 

Having said that, the salad, vegetable and grains sections have plenty of wonderful recipes that can be recreated with ingredients that are easily available in India- and many are naturally vegan and gluten-free. Sweet potatoes, corn, eggplant, beets, leeks, carrots, mushrooms, daikon radish (regular desi mooli.) Most of these vegetables can be found in markets in India. There are of course, some veggies and grains (romesco, kale, quinoa) that I don’t have easy access to, but even without those recipes, there is enough variety to choose from.

This beet salad is one of them. Easy, delicious and can be made ahead and assembled before lunch/dinnertime.

Scallion mint pesto from It's All Good

Scallion mint pesto from It’s All Good

The mint+scallion pesto is a keeper- I used it on toast, tossed in pasta, in omelettes, as a topping for crackers- versatile, like pesto should be. The raw garlic gives it a pungent, almost spicy punch, and the toasted almonds add great depth. And nibble!!

 

Drizzle the pesto over the beets, or just gob them on like I did.

Drizzle the pesto over the beets, or just gob it on with a spoon like I did.

BEET SALAD WITH  MINT +SCALLION PESTO (From It’s All Good)

The Beets

500 grams steamed or roasted beetroot, skins removed and cubed/sliced into discs

The Pesto

  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds
  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced
  • A dozen scallions (spring onions) white and light green parts only, chopped
  • 1/3 cup mint leaves (pudina)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (the book calls for extra-virgin, I used regular)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice (I used desi nimbus)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (the cookbook calls for coarse sea salt, which I had, but I think table salt would be just fine

Puree all the ingredients in a powerful blender until smooth.

 

To assemble, arrange the beets on a plate and pour/drizzle/dab the pesto all over it.

Yes, that’s all it takes 😀

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Celebrating Mangoes: Mango & Ginger Chutney | Spicy Mango Chutney Recipe

mango and ginger chutney

This post is about mangoes. And eating mangoes. But I am going to share a little story first. But I’ll give a picture of mangoes in hopes you will not stray from the page.

Kerala green mangoes

My great-grandmother was a really wonderful person. She was the only person I knew who didn’t have a jealous bone in her body. She passed away when I was in twelfth grade, and I still think about her often. She had 5 children, and twice the number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was also the only person I knew who was always genuinely happy and pleasant. Mainly because all she wanted in life was to see everyone around her happy, well-fed and well-settled.

She was a strict vegetarian and never even looked at a piece of meat or fish in her life. Until one day, when we had one of our summer family potlucks, I was grabbing a chicken leg from a plate of biryani (so my cousin wouldn’t get to it, of course!) and I bumped into her and dropped that masala and ghee laden chicken leg right into her lap, on her snow-white saree. Pretty much everyone gasped- they didn’t know how she would react. But she just laughed, said ‘Oh my god! Now someone please clean this up,’ and looked at me and said ‘It’s ok. If kids don’t spill, who will?”

She was also a severe diabetic- she was supposed to control her intake of root vegetables and natural sugars in addition to regular sweets and chocolates. But she had a secret stash of Cadbury’s chocolate in her room. I don’t know if anyone else knew, but I did. She loved mangoes too, and never passed them up during the season. She also taught me how to relish them, Kerala-style. She’d take one of these small, fibrous mangoes that grew in our garden, slice the skin off the top and squeeze the juice all over a small mound of red rice and eat it with a pinch of salt. I know it may sound like a strange combination, but it’s pretty darn good. Comfort food, Kerala-style- and it couldn’t get simpler. Those mangoes are small and green, and are great for curries. But most of the time, we’d just slice a bit off the top, and squeeze out the flesh and juice by hand, kind of like eating  Fla-Vor-Ice  popsicles.

DSC03640-001

The flavour and juice of mangoes go very nicely with rice, and I made this chutney in an attempt to capture that. There is no coconut or onion to give it texture, so it is a viscous chutney which feels more like a spiced puree. But that is kind of what I was aiming for. I added ginger and green chilli for extra heat.

ingredients for mango chutney laid out

MANGO & GINGER CHUTNEY

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium to large sized mango, roughly cubed (Use a mango which is not too ripe- the flesh should be firm and a little tart.)
  • 1 1-inch piece ginger root, peeled and roughly diced
  • 1 green chilli, sliced
  • A few curry leaves
  • 1 tablespoon oil (I used coconut oil because it’s the backbone of Kerala cuisine and flavors- but you can use any flavorless oil as well.)
  • Salt to taste

METHOD

  • Heat the oil in a shallow pan. Once it gets hot, add the curry leaves. Once they crisp up a bit, add the ginger and green chilli.
  • As the ginger softens and turns a slight golden hue, turn the heat to medium and add the cubed mango pieces.
  • Swirl it around, not more than a minute, stirring gently so that the flavors infuse and the mango begins to release it’s juices. You just want to soften the mangoes a little, not break them down.
  • Pull off heat, and blitz in your blender till it becomes pulpy. Add salt to taste.

Allow to cool before consuming. It tastes good with a little plain rice, but I sometimes eat it like a dipping sauce with plain tortilla chips or tapioca chips.

mango chutney with tapioca chips