Obviously, we love cooking. At The Culinary Institute of America, it's in our shared DNA to boil, braise, baste, and bake. But when it comes to realizing the full potential of our ingredients, especially fresh fruits and vegetables, raw is the answer.
If you've been to a grocery store or farmers' market in the last year, you can't miss packaging that's plastered with the phrases, "minimally processed," ''unfiltered," or "unrefined." We are in an age of awakening, where consumers want to know the what, when, where, and why of their food. Every step in the processing of foods brings us farther from the origins of our raw ingredients.
More than that, though, are the health benefits that come with unprocessed and uncooked ingredients. Put simply, cooking fruits and vegetables results in decreased levels of vitamins, chlorophyll, and beneficial proteins and sugars, meaning less of the good stuff for our bodies to use for energy, fighting disease, and processes like healthy hair growth.
Now, this of course is not to say that cooked vegetables aren't still an important part of our daily routine. In fact, some studies suggest that steaming vegetables is the one cooking method that helps retain a lot of the nutrients found in our foods. But it can be helpful to think about how you could introduce some more exciting raw fruits and vegetables to your routine.
This Vegetable Carpaccio recipe is a huge upgrade from baby carrots and cucumber slices, fit for a dinner party (tips for making it extra-cool a little later) or a casual night at home. Don't be intimidated by the name, because this is really just a nice composed salad, perfect as a first course or alongside roast chicken or broiled fish.
Though the presentation is simple, this dish is full of flavor thanks to garlic- and spice-infused drizzles. In the interest of minimal processing, we're going to give you the steps to make both from scratch, plus an aromatic spice blend. Of course, you can also find ingredients like the berbere spice blend or flavorful garlic-infused oils at the grocery store to save a little time.
Berbere is an Ethiopian spice blend made from chilies and other spices. Though you can find it online or at most grocery stores, there is nothing like homemade, and you'll especially love it come grilling season (only five months away!). CIA chef Kathy Polenz explains, "This seasoning is a delicious and aromatic warming, all-purpose seasoning. Use it for grilled vegetables, chicken, fish and meats, rice dishes, or soups." Yes, chef!
If you decide to serve this as a first course at a sit-down dinner party, you have a real show-stopping opportunity. You can use a mandolin to get super-thin slices from your kohlrabi, radishes, and beets, then get those creative juices flowing to plate the carpaccio like your favorite Top Chef. For a little extra protein and some pizazz, heat a small amount of safflower oil in a pan and fry cooked quinoa until it's lightly browned and crispy. Sprinkle that superfood over your other superfoods and pat yourself on the back.
Start to finish: 1 hour
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons safflower oil
1 tablespoon Berbere Spice Blend (recipe follows)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons water
2 garlic cloves
Sea salt, to taste
3 tablespoon safflower oil
1 kohlrabi (see note), peeled
1 watermelon radish, peeled
1 daikon radish, peeled
4 red radishes
3 small (or 1 medium) beet, peeled
Sea salt, to taste
1 cup watercress, roughly chopped
To prepare the berbere drizzle, combine the sesame oil, safflower oil, and berbere spice blend. Stir to combine and set aside.
To make the garlic drizzle, combine the lemon juice, water, and garlic in a blender. Add a pinch of sea salt and purée to make a paste. With the blender running, slowly stream in the oil and blend until an emulsified mixture forms. Refrigerate until needed.
Use a mandolin to slice the kohlrabi, radishes, and beet into paper thin, translucent slices. Try and choose vegetables that are roughly the same diameter, about 2 to 3 inches, for a uniform presentation. Reserve each vegetable separately.
Arrange the sliced vegetables on individual salad plates in rows, arcs, or circles that cover the entire surface of the plate (at this point, the plates can be made ahead, covered, and refrigerated).
Sprinkle the vegetables with sea salt, to taste, and top with watercress. Drizzle the plates with the garlic drizzle, then the berbere drizzle, and serve immediately.
Berbere Spice Blend
Makes about 3/4 cup
1 teaspoon fenugreek seed
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
5 allspice berries
7 cardamom pods, husks removed
4 whole cloves
2 dried New Mexican red chilies, stem and seeds removed (Very spicy chilies de arbol (5 to 6 each) or milder guajillo chilies (2 each) can be used in lieu of New Mexican red chilies)
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons smoked sweet paprika
2 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Heat a dry saute pan over medium heat. Add the fenugreek, coriander, peppercorns, allspice, cardamom, and cloves and toast until aromatic, about 1 minute. Transfer to spice grinder.
Tear the chilies into small pieces and add to the same pan. Toast until aromatic and beginning to blister, about 2 minutes. Transfer to the grinder with the spices.
Add the onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon to the spice grinder and blend to a fine even powder. Store in an airtight jar until needed.
Nutrition information per serving: 127 calories; 79 calories from fat; 9 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 401 mg sodium; 13 g carbohydrate; 5 g fiber; 8 g sugar; 2 g protein.
This article was provided to The Associated Press by The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.