OK, I'll confess. The reason why I finally started this blog is because I invented my own recipe! And a healthy and gorgeous one, no less, using my new favorite vegetable: beets.
I served the soup with Honey Garlic Green Tea Shrimp from Martin Yan Quick & Easy on rice. The recipe is probably the one I use the most in the book, I almost always have the ingredients on hand, and the green tea gives the dish a very unique flavour. Plus, like the title of the book, it *is* quick and easy, even though the ingredients list might be a bit daunting.
So I think the recipe needs a lot of tweaking, when I actually write it out it sounds so plain, but it's good, I promise! Despite the few ingredients, roasting the vegetables gives it a lot of flavour. I think somehow garlic can be incorporated... sauteed in a teeny bit of oil before adding the vegetables? This calls for further experimentation ;) But what's so good nutritionally about this soup? Well first of all, it's low in fat (yes, even if you do end up using sour cream--I was only joking!) and the bright colours of the squash and the beets already imply that they're good for you. The butternut squash gets its bright orange colour from beta-carotenes, which is the same pigment that you can find in carrots. Beta-carotene is turned into vitamin A (as retinol) in the body. The most well-known function of vitamin A is how it helps with night-vision (as retinal), but it is also involved in participating in protein synthesis and cell differentiation (as retinoic acid) as well as supporting reproduction and growth (as retinol). So says my "Fundamentals of Nutrition" notes. Betalains, which give beets their red colour through a mixture of purple pigments (betacyanins) and yellow pigments (betaxanthins), are actually the subject of a lot of research right now concerning their antioxidant function in the body and their potential health benefits. Antioxidants help prevent disease and aging by slowing down the oxidative effects of free radicals, which can destroy DNA and cause cancer. Betalains have also shown to lower LDL "bad" cholesterol levels in the body. Other than that, beets are also high in folate, which is important in the development of red blood cells, but particularly important for pregnant women, as it effects nervous system development in the fetus. Phew, that was probably the most difficult entry to write ever and I really can't guarantee anything in terms of accuracy... I don't think I'll be doing that for a while. Oh, the next recipe:
Roasted Butternut Squash and Beet Soup
Makes about 6 cups (1½ L), or 4-6 servings
- 450 g (1 lb) of beets, washed, greens removed
- 1 small butternut squash, halved (about 900g, or 2 lb)
- 1 medium onion, peeled and halved
- 875 mL - 1 L (3½ - 4 cups) water or broth*
- Salt and pepper to taste
*I made mine with 3½ cups, but the soup does turn out pretty thick that way. **In the photo above you can see that I used green onions; I just happened to have them on hand and they gave a surprisingly refreshing bite. I think conventionally parsley would be suggested... other herbs could be interesting.
- Preheat oven to 375ºF (190ºC)
- Wrap beets in foil and place on baking sheet. Place butternut squash and onion halves facedown onto baking sheet also and roast the vegetables for about 1 hr. (Beets and butternut squash should be tender, onions should be caramelized.) Let the vegetables cool slightly.
- Peel and cube beets and place in a large saucepan. Spoon butternut squash into saucepan. Add onion and water. Purée all ingredients with a handblender until smooth.
- Heat soup to simmer.
- Serve with a dollop of plain yogurt (or sour cream, you fatty!) stirred in; garnish with green stuff.**
Honey Garlic Green Tea Shrimp from Martin Yan Quick & Easy, p. 100 Makes 4 servingsI'm sure Martin Yan was one of the first cooking shows I'd ever watched on television. I was always amazed by his chopping skill. I actually met him at the Calgary Stampede two years ago, and he was really entertaining, which I think was what inspired me to get the book in the first place. The peanut sauce in the book is also spectacular; I'll probably write about it someday ;)
- 15 mL (1 tbsp) cornstarch
- 10 mL (2 tsp) soy sauce
- 450 g (1 lb) medium-sized raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 80 mL (1/3 cup) chicken broth
- 30 mL (2 tbsp) oyster-flavoured sauce
- 22 mL (1½ tbsp) honey
- 2 mL (½ tsp) sesame oil
- 2 mL (½ tsp) cornstarch
- 15 mL (1 tbsp) vegetable oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 10mL (2 tsp) ground green tea leaves*
- 80mL (1/3 cup) macadamia nuts**
*Ground in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. If you don't have those, then cutting open a teabag will do. **I never have these so other nuts like walnuts and cashews will probably do. In the photo you can see that I used pine nuts.
- Combine the cornstarch (15mL) and soy sauce in a bowl and mix well. Add the shrimp and stir to coat evenly. Let stand for 10 minutes.
- Combine chicken broth, oyster-flavoured sauce, honey, sesame oil and cornstarch (2mL) in a small bowl and stir until honey dissolves.
- Place a stir-fry pan over high heat until hot. Add the oil, swirling to coat the sides. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add the shrimp and stirfry until they turn pink, 1½ to 2 minutes.
- Sprinkle the ground green tea over the shrimp and stir to coat evenly. Stir the sauce once, add to the pan, and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the nuts, transfer to a plate, and serve.