When it comes to menus that can please a variety of tastes and lend themselves to great leftovers, Sara Hurst of local meal subscription service Bella's Kitchen and Wellness opts for "deconstructed" spreads that allow each diner to build their own dish.
"I love to deconstruct dishes as doing that makes them more family-friendly," Hurst says. "It helps picky eaters try things they usually wouldn't because they can still try a little bite and don't have to commit to a full dish.
"I also love deconstructed dishes because they cater to different dietary needs — i.e. vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free."
Here, Hurst shares two simple, healthy, deconstructed dishes and recipes for the standout elements that really bring the flavor.
Roasted Veggies with Quinoa Salad & Lemon Tahini Dressing
"Grain bowls are really easy and healthy to make. You can use a quinoa salad as a base or whatever grains you have on hand, then add some roasted veggies, greens and your favorite protein. Drizzle a creamy dressing over it and you have a nutrient-packed meal."
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/4 cups quinoa
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved, or 2 beefsteak tomatoes, diced
- 4 scallions (white and light green parts), thinly sliced
- 3 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 tbsp. fresh mint, chopped
- 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in the quinoa.
- Once it returns to a boil, the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender. Remove from the heat, fluff with a fork and let stand, covered, for five more minutes. Then remove the lid and let cool.
- In a large bowl, combine the quinoa, tomatoes, lemon juice, scallions, parsley, mint, EVOO, salt and pepper and stir together. Taste for salt; you may want to add more.
Lemon Tahini Dressing
- 1/2 cup tahini, well stirred
- 6 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- 1/2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
- 2 tbsp. maple syrup
- 3 tbsp. water, plus more if necessary
- In a small bowl, whisk together the tahini, maple syrup, lemon juice, garlic and salt, then whisk in the water. If it’s still a little thick, whisk in a little more water.
- Taste for salt; you may want to add more.
- Emulsify with an immersion blender.
Taco Bar with Mushroom Carnitas
"Take a chance on a taco bar and introduce your family to different textures and flavors, like Mexican street corn salad or mushroom carnitas."
- 2 pounds oyster mushrooms
- 2 fresh limes
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tsp. garlic powder
- 2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. Aleppo pepper
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. fine sea salt
- 1 tsp. tamari sauce
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- chopped fresh cilantro, for topping
- Cut off the mushrooms and thinly slice them with a knife. Add the sliced mushrooms to a large mixing bowl.
- In a separate measuring cup or mixing bowl, whisk together the juice of one lime (about 2 tbsp.), orange juice, tamari sauce, Aleppo pepper, oil, garlic powder, ground cumin, oregano, salt and black pepper until combined. Drizzle the marinade over the mushrooms, then toss gently until evenly coated.
- Heat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
- Let the mushrooms marinate for about 15-20 minutes while the oven heats, then transfer to a large baking sheet and spread them out in an even layer. Bake for about 20 to 30 minutes, removing the mushrooms at the 20-minute mark to give them a brief stir, and then again every five minutes afterward. (The mushrooms will likely be fairly juicy at the 20-minute mark, but don’t worry, the liquid will evaporate and they will become browned and crispy as time goes on.)
- Once the mushrooms are browned and reach your desired level of crispiness around the edges, transfer the baking sheet to a wire baking rack.
- Drizzle the mushrooms evenly with the juice of the remaining lime (about 2 tbsp.) and sprinkle with cilantro, if desired. Give the mushrooms a quick taste and season with extra salt and pepper if needed.
- 3 large avocados
- 2 limes zest and juice
- 1/2 jalapeño, seeded and finely minced
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1/3 cup onion, chopped
- 1 cup tomatoes, chopped
- salt to taste
- Halve the avocados, scoop the flesh into a large bowl and mash with a fork until chunky.
- Add all other ingredients and mix well.
- Add avocado pits to prevent the dip from turning brown, then remove the pits when ready to serve.
Mexican Street Corn Salad
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 pound frozen corn (thawed and drained)
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 oz. cotija cheese, finely crumbled
- 1/2 cup scallions, green parts only, finely sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and stemmed, finely chopped
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced on a microplane
- 2 tbsp. mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp. fresh juice from 1 lime
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- Heat up cast iron skillet and add vegetable oil. When hot, add corn kernels and season to taste with salt, toss once or twice, then cook without moving until charred on one side, about two minutes. Toss corn, stir and repeat until charred on second side, about two minutes longer.
- Continue tossing and charring until corn is well charred all over, about 10 minutes total, then transfer to a large bowl.
- Add cheese, scallions, cilantro, jalapeño, garlic, mayonnaise, lime juice and chili powder and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and more chili powder to taste.
Visit bellaskitchenandwellness.com to learn more.