America’s Lunchtime Lesson: Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution

May 4, 2010 at 4:57 am 2 comments

Image Courtesy of JamieOliver.com

Who would’ve thought that fighting a revolution could mean picking up a fork and knife?  One Brit has set out to do just that.  Jamie Oliver, known as The Naked Chef (or Savior of the School Lunch – whichever suits your fancy), has made it his personal mission to investigate and change the food system in public schools across America while educating teachers, parents and children about what really lies on their colorful plastic trays come noontime.

After seeing initial success in the English town of Rotherham, teaching everyone from hairdressers to bricklayers how to cook a healthy proper meal, Jamie made his way across the pond to the small town of Huntington, West Virginia (aka the place with the highest obesity and weight-related deaths in the country).  “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” show, which aired in March, has since wrapped, but full episodes are still available on ABC.com and I highly recommend watching them.  From butting heads with Southern school cook Alice to showing kids what actually goes into a chicken nugget, the show pointed out the disturbing flaws in our synthetic food system and offered solutions that can be implemented in schools and homes to create healthy and lasting change.

Image Courtesy of Amazon.com

While watching Jamie whip up tasty meals for the kids, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on “Jamie’s Food Revolution” cookbook.  The book provides simple and classic recipes that are healthy and quite easy for anyone to make, along with a challenge to all readers who choose to partake in the Food Revolution: pass it onAs in, pass on a few recipes in the book to at least four people.  That’s it.  So below are the recipes for two of Jamie’s yummy dishes (the Spicy Moroccan Stewed Fish w/Couscous from the book and the Asparagus and Pesto Risotto from his iPhone app Jamie Oliver) that I would like to pass along.  Let’s honor his movement to spread healthy eating by getting back into our kitchens and rediscovering the simple pleasure of a home cooked meal (while incorporating as many local, organic ingredients as possible)!

**For more information on this eating movement, consider joining Slow Food USA, see the latest about the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, or read about third graders writing to senators asking for meals that aren’t packaged and frozen.  And be sure to sign Jamie’s petition on http://www.JamieOliver.com!

Spicy Moroccan Stewed Fish with Couscous

Serves 2
20 minutes
Found in “Jamie’s Food Revolution” cookbook (Pg. 26)

Ingredients

1 cup quick-cook couscous
olive oil
2 lemons
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves of garlic
1 fresh red chile
a bunch of fresh basil
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 X 6-oz white fish fillets (*Used tilapia with the skin and bones removed)
½ pound large shrimp, raw peeled (*Substituted more Tilapia as I’m allergic to shellfish)
1 X 14-oz can of diced tomatoes
2 handfuls of fresh or frozen peas, fava beans or green beans (or use a mixture)

Directions

Put the couscous into a bowl and add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.  Halve the lemons and squeeze in the juice from two of the halves.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper.  Pour in just enough boiling water to cover the couscous, then cover the bowl with a plate or plastic wrap.  Let the couscous soak up the water for 10 minutes.

Put a large saucepan on medium heat.  Peel and finely slice your garlic.  Finely slice your chile.  Pick the basil leaves off the stalks.  Put the smaller ones to one side and roughly chop the larger ones.  Add a couple of lugs of olive oil to the hot pan. Add the garlic, chile, basil, cumin seeds and cinnamon.  Give it all a stir and put the fish fillets on top.  Scatter over the shrimp.  Add the canned tomatoes and the peas and beans.  Squeeze in the juice from the two remaining lemon halves (**Note:  I found that two lemon halves are bordering on overwhelming, so I recommend just using one half).  Put a lid on the pan.  Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for about 8 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through and flakes easily.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.

By the time the fish is cooked, the couscous should have sucked up all the water and be ready to serve.  Spoon the couscous into a large serving bowl and give it a stir with a fork to help it fluff up.  Top with the fish, vegetables and juices from the pan, sprinkle with the reserved basil leaves, and tuck in!

Asparagus and Pesto Risotto

Serves 2
40 minutes
Found on the iPhone Jamie Oliver App under the “Simple Risottos” Tab

Ingredients

1 medium bunch of asparagus (*Bought fresh and organic from my local farmers’ market)
2 heaping tsp good-quality pesto
1 small red onion
1 stick celery
2 pats butter
5 oz risotto rice
1 ¾ cups vegetable broth (*Used closer to 2 ¼ cups)
1 oz Parmesan cheese
½ cup white wine
1 lemon (*Used just half the lemon)
olive oil
sea salt
black pepper

Directions

Preheat your oven to the lowest setting and place your plates in the oven to warm.  Place a large saucepan on low to medium heat.  Peel the onion and trim the celery stick, then finely chop or coarsely grate them.

Add 1 pat of butter to the hot pan with the onion, celery and a splash of olive oil and a splash of water.  Cook over a low heat for around 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until soft.  Meanwhile, bring the broth to a boil in a medium saucepan, then turn the heat down to low.

Snap the woody bases off the asparagus spears and add them to the saucepan of broth.  Slice the remaining tender stalks right up to the tip then leave the tip whole.  Put to one side.

Finely grate the Parmesan cheese.  Once your vegetables are very soft (but not browned) add the rice to the pan.  Stir and fry the rice for a minute until translucent.  Then add the wine and keep stirring until all the wine has been absorbed by the rice.

Turn the heat under the rice up to medium, then add a ladleful of hot broth, avoiding the asparagus stalks (they are there for flavor only).  Stir constantly and continue adding broth, one ladle at a time waiting for the rice to soak it all up before adding more.  Continue until you’ve used two thirds of the broth.

Once two thirds of the broth has been added, stir the sliced asparagus and tips into the rice.  Keep adding the broth until the rice is just cooked and the risotto has a nice oozy consistency.  If you run out of broth, use boiling water.

Take the pan of risotto off the heat and stir in the remaining pat of butter, 1 heaping teaspoon of pesto and half the Parmesan.  Cut your lemon in half them squeeze in a little juice.

Taste the risotto and season with a good pinch of salt and pepper.  Cover the pan with a lid and serve onto warmed plates when ready.  Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese over the risotto and top with pesto.

**For more recipes, visit http://www.jamieoliver.com

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