(I admit. I went a bit crazy this evening, and only expect this full spread to be re-created in the most excited of spirits).
The email recipe exchange game, again the source of inspiration; it requires the blink of an eye to send one out and get twenty in return. Among the flood of new foods for thought was “California Avocado Tacos” which promised quinoa-sesame-poppy encrusted avocado wedges over cabbage slaw and other good fixings. Woah (and very California).
The avocados at the coop were firmer than the rocks I climb, but I was determined to conjure something with this mouth-watering crust. And so, I turned to the trusty drawers in my fridge, piled high with roots upon roots upon roots. And so in a mini test kitchen session, I created a few varieties of the New England winter edition, minus the tacos.
Birdseed Fries; Black Beans & Pickled Carrots; Roasted Pumpkin Seed and Agave Slaw
This recipe is ripe with creativity. You can mix and match the seeds and coating. I’ll suggest a few alternate recipes, but don’t stick to these suggestions. If you don’t have one of these ingredients, try a substitute; crushed almonds or coriander?
Now. Even though these are fried, a rare technique used in my kitchen, mostly because it requires an appalling quantity of oil ($$), they turn out remarkable light and hardly greasy. Really unique, crunchy and satisfying. The new french fry!
- 10–15 root vegetable sticks or strips about 2-inch long and 1/4-inch thick; I used rutabaga, kohlrabi, and carrots
- 1/3 cup quinoa
- 1/3 cup sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 all-purpose flour, plus more flour for dusting
- 1/2 cup water
- sunflower seed oil or vegetable oil, for frying
- Prepare the vegetables and set aside. Don’t worry too much about keeping them uniform in size, though the thinner the better! This is at the beginning of your assembly.
- Add a spoonful of flour to a bowl or plate and set next to the vegetables.
- In a separate bowl, mix the flour with water to create a thin pancake-like batter. In a mortar and pestle, grind together the cumin, sea salt and pepper. (If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, use ground cumin and mix together in a bowl.) Add to the batter and stir. Set next to the flour plate/bowl.
- Next, in a separate bowl mix the quinoa, sesame and poppy. This goes next to the batter.
- Last, add vegetable oil to a frying pan about 1.5 in. deep. You will want to make sure that the sticks are submerged in the oil. Check your oil to make sure it’s hot enough to fry. Bobby hates this and it’s probably irresponsible, but if you splash 1 drop of water and it pops and sizzles, it’s ready!
- Line a plate or baking sheet with paper towel and place this on the other side of your frying pan, or in a convenient location.
- Begin by tossing the stick in the flour for a light coating (this will help the batter stick). Shake the excess and transfer to the batter. Coat lavishly and transfer to the seeds. Press firmly, creating a solid crust around the stick. For best results, at this stage you can create a platter of encrusted sticks and put them in the freezer for twenty minutes. Or, proceed…
- Add the stick to the oil and fry baby, fry! When it’s golden brown, all around, you can remove with tongs or a slotted spoon and cool on the paper towel. Keep going until you’ve finished the batch! Voila. You can keep it simple and just eat sticks for dinner, snacks, or serving (we took these to a potluck), or continue on to the next ultra-simple sides to create a taco-like fiesta on your plate.
Alternate Italian Inspired Crust:
- Substitute the cumin for 1 tsp. each of rosemary, oregano, and thyme (Stick & Stone Farm, U-pick, Home-dried)
- Substitute the sesame for coarse cornmeal
- Omit poppy
- Keep the quinoa
- Add about 2 cloves of very finely minced garlic (Stick & Stone Farm, Winter CSA) and a splash of olive oil to the batter
- Replace half the batter flour with finely ground cornmeal, or polenta (Greenstar Coop, Bulk Section)
- You can either grind the herbs and add them to the batter, or, add the herbs whole to the cornmeal and quinoa.
Alternate Ayurvedic Inspired Crust
- Replace quinoa with wheat germ or bread crumbs (Greenstar Coop, Bulk Section)
- Omit poppy
- Replace cumin with turmeric
- The rest remains the same.