Harvest Wraps

harvest-wrap

Years ago when I was in school at College of Charleston, we had students from Johnson and Wales interning at our cafeteria at a salad and wrap station. There was one wrap in particular I remember that was turkey, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. I don’t remember if it was called the Thanksgiving wrap, but I’m pretty sure I was channeling it when I threw this together.

This cheesily named dinner came about from my needing to use up a bunch of produce that had been hanging out in the fridge, but I must say it came out nicer than I had imagined – the squash, beets and spinach were bright and colorful and cheery and the beef flavored with rosemary made it very satisfying. Zoeya will snarf up anything wrapped in a tortilla and Shan will tolerate plentiful veggies if they come with a side of beef, so I would call this a success.

Harvest Wrap

For roasted veggies:
one bunch (3-4) beets, peeled and cubed
one butternut squash, peeled, seeds cleaned and cubed
olive oil, salt & pepper

Toss veggies with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast at 400° until tender. Roast separately – the squash will roast a lot faster than the beets.

For the beef:
one onion, diced
olive oil, salt & pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 lb ground beef
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 roma tomatoes, diced
2 sprigs rosemary, chopped

Saute onion in olive oil with salt and pepper. Add garlic, paprika and cumin and cook, stirring. Add ground beef and brown. Add tomato paste, tomatoes, and rosemary and simmer.

For the rice:
2 ears white corn, cut off the cob
2 cups jasmine rice, rinsed
4 cups water
olive oil, salt & pepper

Add everything to the pot, stir, and bring to a boil. Cover and lower heat to medium low, cooking until rice is done, 15-20 minutes.

For wraps:
Assemble everything in warm tortillas lined with spinach leaves, roll, cut in half, and enjoy!

Note: I know I went on about not cubing raw squash when you can just roast it in the skin, but what happens when you need cubes, like for butternut squash and shrimp curry (recipe coming soon!)? Somewhat hypocritically, I just learned a great trick for peeling butternut squash that makes it pretty painless. Just boil the whole squash in a big pot of water for five minutes, cool, and the skin will be soft enough to peel with a regular vegetable peeler.

This made a great lunch the next day, sans tortilla.

Paki Tacos

thumb_paki-taco

I absolutely love Latin culture. I love the language, the food, the music, the dancing. When I met Shan, I was pretty much immersed. I was going salsa dancing every weekend, and I was eating arroz con gandules instead of biryani. After we got married, I started cooking mostly Pakistani and Indian food, but I will never stop cooking Latin food; it’s such a nice reminder of that time in my life and the people that are still dear friends, even though we don’t see each other as much anymore.

Tonight I made a dish that’s a fusion of the foods that Shan and I both love. This dish is my past and my future on one plate.

Instead of pulled pork (we don’t eat pork!) this is made with pulled chicken thighs, with a spicy tomato sauce flavored with both South Asian spices and smoky chipotle pepper, and just a little brown sugar. With gingery basmati rice, a fresh, sweet corn relish, and delicate pickled shallots (I put pickled shallots on everything), this is a delightful mix of flavors and textures.

Shan approved; he ate four and gave them their name – Paki Tacos.

Paki Tacos

For pickled shallots
Combine 2 sliced shallots, 2 tbsp red wine vinegar, 2 tsp honey, and a couple pinches of salt in a coffee cup and let pickle while you cook the rest.

For chicken + tomato sauce
4 chicken thighs
salt & pepper
olive oil
1/3 c sherry (white wine, chicken broth, or water also fine)
1 tbsp butter
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp each: ground cumin, ground coriander, paprika, garam masala
1 can diced tomatoes
1 large carrot, chopped
2 chipotle peppers (and a tbsp or so of the adobo sauce)
1 tsp brown sugar

Heat olive oil on high while you salt and pepper chicken thighs. Brown chicken thighs on both sides, covered so they start to cook through. Check for doneness, you may need to add a splash of water and cover so they cook through the rest of the way. When they are cooked, let water evaporate and remove chicken to a plate to cool.

Deglaze pan with sherry, reduce by at least half, then add butter, cinnamon, and cloves and reduce heat to just above medium. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are translucent. Add garlic and ground spices and cook, stirring, for several minutes. Add tomatoes, carrots, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, and about a cup of water, cover and crank the heat back up. Cook for 10 minutes or so, uncover and reduce if it’s too liquidy (you want it not too dry, but thick), remove from heat, and stir in brown sugar.

While the sauce cools, shred chicken thighs with two forks. Transfer sauce to a food processor, puree, then combine chicken and sauce in the pot and gently warm through.

For corn relish
2 ears white corn
small handful cilantro
1 lime (zest of all, juice of half)
2 tbsp yogurt
salt & pepper

Boil corn in pot of generously salted water. Drain and cool. Finely chop cilantro and combine with lime zest, lime juice and yogurt. Cut the corn off the cob and gently stir with yogurt mixture.

For gingery basmati rice
Rinse and soak 1 c rice (15 min is fine). Boil and salt 2 c water, grating in 1/2 inch ginger. Add rice, cover, and reduce heat to low, cooking until done, about 15 to 20 minutes.

For tacos
Assemble all of the above in warm corn tortillas and enjoy.