Two healthy meals to start off the new year

Red beet buckwheat 'risotto' :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen

I hope you all had a great start to the new year. I certainly did.

A couple of days after Christmas me and my family left Sweden for a week of skiing in Austria, and I can’t think of a better way to end – or to begin – a year. We had a lovely week with lots of skiing, fresh air and last, but not least – good food of course.

And as always when I’m away from home and work (the two are hopelessly intertwined in my life – until I find the right studio place, that is…) I get inspired.

As so much in my life evolves around food, it is such a treat for me to leave the kitchen and all the dishes and just eat what somebody else cooked for a few days.

Inspired by travels :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen

So after several hotel nights and restaurant meals I came back home filled with inspiration to cook in my own kitchen again. And I’ve come up with two simple and healthy vegetarian meals to start off the new year.

Fresh produce :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen

I am not a vegetarian, but I’ve always found veggies more intriguing than meat. And meat, fish or poultry is almost always just a tiny add-on to my meals. But far from always. Most of my meals are completely vegetarian, and I’m always trying to find new and interesting ways to cook my veg.

And if you’re looking for that too, perhaps these two recipes will help you in the right direction? Both are really simple to make, or to alter according to whatever ingredients you like, or have to hand.

The buckwheat ‘risotto’ is inspired by a recipe in Kimberley Hasselbrink’s brilliant book Vibrant Food. But this time I made it with buckwheat instead of rice (to add more protein) and some additional small alterations. That book by the way – you really should buy it if you’re looking for amazing, seasonal food-inspiration. It is such a gem!

The stuffed peppers were simply inspired by what I had in the fridge and the pantry – which is how food happen more or less every day around here. I used the green tops of the celery stalks instead of herbs in the stuffing, but if you have parsley or flat-leaf parsley you could use that too.

Spicy red lentil-stuffed peppers :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen

I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. I believe in everyday resolutions. And I believe in creating new habits, little by little. Bit by bit. And a new year is always a good time to start new habits, like eating more healthy food and think of the future and your health, right? And eating more veg and less meat will certainly benefit not only You, but the Planet as well.

So, let’s get cooking (scroll down for recipes)! And if you still need more inspiration to kick-start your 2015 I suggest you head over to Jamie Oliver at Youtube to check out his ’10 meals to kick-start a healthier 2015′ – that’s brilliant stuff over there!

Fresh produce for Red beet buckwheat 'risotto' :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen

Printable recipes

Red beet buckwheat ‘risotto’

serves 4

3 red beets, cooked peeled and diced

1 cup buckwheat groats
2 tbsp olive oil
2 small red onions, diced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
juice from 1 lemon (or a splash of white wine)
3 cups hot vegetable stock

2/3 cup (75 g) feta cheese, crumbled

sea salt to taste (be careful though, the stock and the feta cheese was enough for me)
freshly ground black pepper, olive oil, baby chard leaves and chopped parsley to serve

1) To cook the beets: Scrub well and add them to a pot with lightly salted water, just enough to cover the beets. Bring to a boil and cook until ‘al dente’ – when you can easily insert a knife in the middle they are ready. This usually takes 30-40 minutes. Remove from the heat, rinse with cold water and when the beets are cool you can peel off the skin using a knife.
2) Rinse the buckwheat first under hot water, then cold. Drain in a colander.
3) Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are soft.
4) Add the buckwheat and stir to coat the grains evenly with oil for about 1 minute.
5) Add lemon juice (or wine) and stir until all of the liquid is absorbed into the buckwheat.
6) Begin adding the hot stock, ½ cup at a time, stirring frequently. Wait until each addition is almost completely absorbed before adding the next ½ cup, reserving about ¼ cup of stock to add at the end if needed. Stir frequently to prevent the buckwheat from sticking.
7) After about 20 minutes when the buckwheat is al dente, add the remaining stock, feta cheese and the diced beets and stir vigorously until the risotto absorbs the juices of the beets and turns a bright shade of pink.
8) Add salt if needed and finish off with freshly ground pepper.
9) Serve immediately with a drizzle of olive oil, baby chard leaves and chopped parsley.

Red beet buckwheat 'risotto' :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen

Spicy red lentil-stuffed peppers

serves 2 as a meal or 4 as a side

2 large yellow peppers

1/2 cup red lentils
1 cup vegetable stock

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 celery stalk (including green tops if you like), diced
1/2 cup strained tomatoes + 2 tbsp water
1/4 tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
almond meal (or bread crumbs)
parsley or flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

1) Cook the lentils in vegetable stock for about 15 minutes and drain well.
2) Preheat the oven to 200° C (400 ° F). Halve the peppers lengthways, remove the seeds and place on a baking tray.
3) Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and cook the onion, garlic and chilli for about 5 minutes, until fragrant and softened.
4) Add the celery and fry for another 2-3 minutes. Stir in the strained tomatoes + water and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
5) Combine the above with the cooked lentils and spoon into the halved peppers. Top with almond meal (or bread crumbs if you prefer), finely chopped parsley and a drizzle of olive oil and bake for about 20 minutes until the peppers are golden and soft to the touch.

Spicy red lentil-stuffed peppers :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's KitchenSpicy red lentil-stuffed peppers :: Sonja Dahlgren/Dagmar's Kitchen

show hide 26 comments

Sini | My Blue&White Kitchen - January 8, 2015 - 5:27 pm

Happy 2015, Sonja! I have a huge crush on this post; the light is magical and the dishes call my name. What a wonderful way to start a new year.

P.S. Can’t agree more with you on Kimberley’s book! It’s a keeper, especially for anyone who appreciates seasonal food heavy with veggies.

valentina | sweet kabocha - January 8, 2015 - 6:51 pm

Oh my gosh, this barley risotto is too pretty!!!! ^_^

Rebecca@Figs and Pigs - January 8, 2015 - 9:13 pm

Absolutely beautiful, I’ve just made stuffed peppers for tea tonight but not with lentils this looks so good going to be trying this.

Kelly @ Inspired Edibles - January 9, 2015 - 4:40 am

From Sweden to Austria… lucky you, sounds divine. I would come here just for the photos but it so happens that these are both gorgeous recipes too. That beet infused kasha is just so interesting ~ both dishes sound warming and satisfying. What a perfect way to kick off the new year!

Ann-Louise - January 9, 2015 - 8:49 pm

Happy New Year! What a wonderful end of the year that’s passed and begin a new one. Your risotto looks absolutely amazing and will definitely end up on my dinner table soon.

ratna - January 11, 2015 - 4:01 am

The addition of the lentils is such a great idea, have a wonderful new year!

Sini | My Blue&White Kitchen - January 11, 2015 - 9:35 am

Made the lentil stuffed bell peppers yesterday. Delicious!

Sonja {Dagmar's Kitchen} - January 12, 2015 - 1:02 pm

Sini – I’m so glad to hear that!! Thanks for letting me know! xoxo

Louise Bondebjer - January 12, 2015 - 3:56 pm

Hej Dagmars kitchen!
Vilket härlig senaste inlägg med grön mat;)
Jo, jag undrar om du planerat in datum för ny kurs med tips kring matfotografering. Missade tyvärr senaste tillfället och hoppas kunna få möjlighet att närvara när nästa tillfälle ges! Meddela gärna!

Ha en bra eftermiddag!
MVH, Louise Bondebjer

Alex - January 12, 2015 - 4:37 pm

hi sonja,

so you did it to austria! where have you been skiing? here in tyrol the snow is nearly gone. I spent the New Years Eve with Juliana in Switzerland.

I like the idea of beetroot and buckweat, I have to try it. My family will hate me ;-).

Happy New Year

Katie - January 12, 2015 - 9:41 pm

The beet risotto looks like Barbie’s favorite porridge. I love it!

Camilla / Blueberry Tales - January 14, 2015 - 7:08 pm

Wauw, this looks amazing. I can’t wait to try the buckwheat risotto. It’s one of my favourite grains :-)

Sonja {Dagmar's Kitchen} - January 15, 2015 - 11:20 am

Kelly@InspiredEdibles – Thank you ever so much! Hope you had a great start to the year!

Sonja {Dagmar's Kitchen} - January 15, 2015 - 11:22 am

Ann-Louise – tack detsamma! Hoppas du gillar om du provar!

Ratna – Yes, they definitely fill that protein craving :) Happy new year to u too!

Sonja {Dagmar's Kitchen} - January 15, 2015 - 11:23 am

Louise – Tack – grön mat är bäst :-) Jag har inte planerat in något datum ännu, men sätter mig de kommande dagarna med planering för våren. Jag hör av mig så snart jag har bestämt datum så kan du förhandsboka om du vill!

Sonja {Dagmar's Kitchen} - January 15, 2015 - 11:24 am

Alex – Hi! So good to hear from you! Hope you get your family to at least try the buckwheat risotto ;-) Hope you had a great start to the new year!

Sonja {Dagmar's Kitchen} - January 15, 2015 - 11:26 am

Katie – LOL!! :-D

Camilla/Blueberry Tales – Thanks! Love buckwheat too and it’s a great substitute for e.g. rice. Happy cooking!

Linda - February 16, 2015 - 9:29 am

Magiska bilder!! Underbart inlägg Sonja. Kram

Josefine - June 11, 2015 - 1:21 pm

Hi Sonja
I just made this lovely “risotto” and I absolutely loved it. Thanks for all your great recipes :)

Natasha - April 7, 2016 - 11:16 pm

I had no idea I could make risotto with buckwheat, it was so good. I’m going to be making it all the time now.

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