Winter’s so close, and with the arrival of the chilly weather comes a desire for comfort food. If you’ve signed up for a Beef CSA with one of our local farmers, put that certified organic, ethically raised beef to good use with one of these classic, soul-satisfying recipes.
BEEF POT ROAST
Add some oil to a hot pan, and brown the roast on all sides. I cut slits into the meat and stuck whole small cloves of garlic inside, then browned the meat. Some recipes call for covering the roast in a bit of flour and seasoning before browning, which is a great idea if you want a roast with a slightly thickened sauce, but I covered the browned roast with some Dijon mustard mixed with Montreal steak spice.
Place the meat into a roaster, and tuck in as many peeled potatoes, onions and carrots (turnips, celery, or parsnips would taste great too) as you can fit around the meat. Now you want to add about a cup of braising liquid. For this roast, I used a mixture of red wine and veggie bouillon, but you could also use canned tomatoes, and beef broth with a bit of brandy. As long as it’s tasty and savoury, it’ll do the trick!
Put the lid on the roaster, put it in a 300°F oven, and let it bake for a few hours – it should be done in 3 hours or so – or until tender. Steam some green veggies, and you’ve got Sunday dinner for two! Once the meat cools, it’s quite easy to cut into slices for sandwiches for brown-bag lunches. The rest of the bits of meat, broth, and the potatoes and carrots get saved for soup, like my recipe below.
BEEF BARLEY SOUP
Step one: Taste your broth. It’s probably quite concentrated, so add water until it tastes pleasant and ‘soup-like’. I usually start by adding a half cup of water at a time, and tasting it after each addition. You’ll probably end up with twice the amount of liquid that you started with, but trust your own taste buds for your ratio. If it tastes a little flat, add a splash of balsamic vinegar, which rounds off the flavour in a nice way.
Step two: Put your broth into a pot. If you have about a litre of broth, add about 1/2 a cup of dried barley (or more if you don’t mind a thick stew-like soup), a small onion, diced, and a bay leaf. Add some canned tomatoes, if you’ve got some. If you don’t have any cooked veggie leftovers, add some chopped carrots and potatoes to your pot as well. (If you still have some leftover veggies or meat from your pot roast leftovers, you can add them near the end). Simmer for about 40 minutes, or until barley is cooked.
Put soup into pint-sized jars while still hot, and you’ll have sealed jars ready to heat up in the office for lunch. The soup can be stored in the fridge for about a week.
BEEF AND VEGETABLE LASAGNA
For this recipe, you’ll need 2 8×12″ lasagna pans, at least 2 inches deep, a sauce pot, frying pan, strainer, hand blender or potato masher, mixing bowl, and a mandoline.
1x 500g box lasagna noodles
800g ground beef
olive oil or any vegetable oil
2 28-oz cans of whole plum tomatoes, plus 3 large fresh
2-4 young white onions (to taste), diced
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
1 large red pepper, julienned
1/3 of a medium-large bulb of fennel, julienned
15-20 button mushrooms, sliced about 3-4 mm thick
2 cups packed spinach, roughly chopped
3/4 cups fresh parsley, roughly chopped
*sliced lengthwise on mandoline, about 2-3 mm thick:
3 young carrots
1 medium yellow zucchini
650 g butternut squash (I used the neck of a smaller one and quartered it before slicing it, yielding about 1.5 inch wide slices)
1/4 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp dark balsamic vinegar
1 tsp chili flakes
2 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 Tbsp each dried basil, dried oregano, ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2x 1 lb tubs ricotta
1 1/2 cups grated parmesan
salt and pepper, to taste
Dice onion and garlic and saute in a saucepot until slightly coloured. Add beef and all spices and continue to saute until beef is cooked through and browned. Add canned tomatoes and one fresh tomato to the pot, mashing or hand-blending them to a chunky puree before adding them. The fresh tomato can be roughly chopped and added. The orange juice and balsamic vinegar can be added with the tomatoes. Bring sauce to a boil and immediately drop to a simmer and let reduce to desired consistency while other prep is being done. Adjust seasoning where desired, and if it’s too tart or bitter, the flavour can be balanced with a few pinches of white or brown sugar.
Boil about 3.5 litres of lightly salted water for lasagna noodles and cook noodles until al dente or just less than al dente. Leave warm to preserve natural starches and toss in oil to prevent sticking. Leave aside until all ingredients are ready for assembly.
Julienne the fennel and red pepper and quickly saute in a tablespoon or two of oil, and set aside in a mixing bowl. Slice and saute the mushrooms until tender and add them to the mixing bowl. Chop the spinach and parsley and add them to the mixing bowl as well. Combine to form a mixture.
Slice tomatoes by cutting them in half through the core, remove the core, and slice tomatoes into half-moon pieces about 2-3 mm thick. Set aside for layering.
On the mandoline, slice the vegetables which are to be turned into strips resembling the noodles. They can be cut into 3 or 4 inch logs and sliced lengthwise on the blade, about 2-3 mm thick. The other vegetables can be sliced on the mandoline too, if desired.
To assemble the lasagna, cover the bottom of the lasagna dishes with one layer of noodles, then a layer of carrot and a layer of zucchini. Sprinkle half of the spinach/veg mix between the two pans and then pour some of the beef sauce over the layers and spread it out. Layer half of the sliced tomato between the two pans. Then make another layer of noodles and put a layer of squash over them. Spread the ricotta over the squash, spread the other half of the spinach mix over the cheese, and put more sauce over the top of that. Put the last of the noodles on top and cover them in the remaining beef sauce and sliced tomato. Finish with the parmesan. Place in an oven pre-heated to 400°F and bake for 45-60 minutes. Turn once during baking. When out of the oven, cool on cooling racks.
Updated from posts originally published in 2012 and 2013
Adventures in Local Food is your source for food news in Nova Scotia, from pickles to policy. It is a project organized by the Ecology Action Centre. Learn more about our program at https://www.ecologyaction.ca/ourfood