Because I have such a busy schedule, all too often I end up grabbing a quick bite on the go in lieu of cooking. Lately I’ve been obsessed with AGNO Grill’s black rice bowl with grilled veggies, topped with roasted cauliflower, carrots, and pickled beets–all smothered with lemon tahini and a touch of harissa. AGNO Grill is one of my favorite restaurants–partly because its menu is organized around a brilliant made-to-order concept, partly because everything they make is both delicious and healthy. First you choose a base (such as a salad or gluten-free wrap), then a protein (falafel, baked tuna, etc.), 3 toppings (like broccolini salad or kalamata olives), and 2 sauces. The enthusiastic folks behind the counter put everything together, and within minutes you’re sighing and planning your next visit (click on the image for a link to their full menu if you don’t believe me):
While I love the convenience of grabbing a meal on the go, I’ve also been dreaming about copying AGNO’s basic concept at home by using vegetables from our CSA shares. Although I can’t reproduce all their sauce options, emulating their mix-and-match menu on a Sunday could set us up for days worth of delicious options.
This week’s share included 1/2 a head of green cabbage, sweet potatoes, kale, a small bag of arugula, carrots, a turnip, and four beautiful apples. I also had a butternut squash from the last share, a shallot or two, plus some scallions and cilantro (which I keep on hand for noodle bowls).
I envisioned a warm salad plate with crispy chewy kale chips, cumin scented carrots, and cubes of roasted butternut squash all on a bed of quinoa. So late this afternoon I began peeling and dicing.
For the carrots, I turned to Mark Bittman’s Roasted Carrots with Cumin. I went basic with the kale and only used olive oil and sea salt. I perked up the quinoa by adding a minced scallion to the pot while it was steaming (you could also stir it in at the end for a little more bite). And, to match the depth of the carrots, I livened up the squash with shallots and balsamic vinegar (1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed, tossed with 1 sliced shallot and about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar).
Unfortunately, every web page I consulted recommended different temperatures for each vegetable. As usual, I decided to ignore what I found online and wing it. Because winging it demands keeping a close watch, I kept my eye on the clock:
- 7:48–the squash goes in a baking dish and into a 350 degree oven
- Toss the carrots with olive oil and cumin, sprinkled on a bit of salt, place them on a metal pizza plate, and wash prep dishes
- 7:53–put the carrots in the oven and crank the heat to 400 degrees
- Decide to take a quick shower (I had just gotten back from the gym)
- 8:06–clock back into the kitchen with clean but wet hair–time to give the veggies a quick stir and start the kale
- Rub about a tablespoon of olive oil on the kale, sprinkle with salt, and spread it out on a cookie sheet
- Rinse the quinoa and get it simmering (low heat) on the stove
- 8:15–drop the oven temperature back to 350, removed the carrots, move the squash to the broiler, and put the kale in the oven
- Clean up the remaining prep dishes and dry my hair
- 8:25–turn everything off, garnish the squash with some parsley while the quinoa finishes steaming, and start plating
- Dinner ready around 8:30–hopefully, I did AGNO proud