The cold winter months call out for comfort food -- spaghetti and meatballs; warm beef stews; risotto; chocolate chip cookies. Even as our bodies crave this homey fare, however, our consciences -- and doctors -- warn against it.
Unless, of course, said comfort food is coming from Beautifull, a San Francisco restaurant, specializing in healthy prepared foods for busy Bay Area residents who might otherwise grab a slice or one of the area’s famous giant burritos for their after-work repasts.
Beautifull’s founder and CEO is entrepreneur and philanthropist, Eric Greenberg, who himself experienced that pull for quick, often unhealthy food, until a wake-up call from his doctor sent him into a reworking of his lifestyle; Greenberg hired a chef and a nutritionist, who together helped him overhaul his diet and lose 60 pounds.
Acting on his entrepreneurial spirit, Greenberg took the lessons he had learned and partnered with renowned chefs, nutritionists, and doctors, including Ron Boyd, the former executive chef of Aqua, Dr. Christopher Gardner, the Director of Nutrition Studies at Stanford’s Prevention Research Center, and Dr. Dean Ornish, best-selling author and founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute. Beautifull was born.
Beautifull’s menu ranges from the aforementioned soul-warmers like the heartily satisfying spaghetti and meatballs, made healthy with Diestel ground turkey, oats, and spinach, to the more traditional suspects of a healthy menu like tabouli, here made deliciously toothsome with the use of quinoa. One of the standouts is a faro risotto, creamy and filling with butternut squash and a smattering of calcium-rich Parmesan. For those craving something warm and healthy who can’t make the trip to the City by the Bay, Beautifull’s chefs have shared the recipe for this cozy dish. And as a special bonus, the recipe for Beautifull’s chocolate chip cookies with walnuts is also included.
Beautifull Farro Risotto with Butternut Squash
Serves 4 to 5 people
½ cup - whole grain farro
2 cups - water
1 cup - vegetable stock
¾ tsp - minced garlic (2-3 cloves)
¾ tsp - diced leek
⅔ cup - diced butternut squash
3 ¼ tbsp - diced carrots
½ tsp - black pepper
3 ¼ tsp - minced shallot
2 ¾ tbsp - white wine
2 ½ tsp - chopped parsley
2 ½ tbsp - grated Parmesan cheese
¼ tsp - lemon juice
1 ¼ tsp - rice bran oil
1 tsp - kosher salt
1. Mince garlic and shallots; dice leeks, carrot, and squash into 1/4th inch pieces (small dice); and chop parsley.
2. Add water to a medium pot, bring to a boil, and add farro and ¼ tsp of salt. Stir for 10 minutes and then strain out remaining water. Place to the side.
3. In a large pan, heat oil and sauté garlic, shallots, leeks, carrots, and butternut squash. Season with ¼ tsp salt. Cook to al dente.
4. Add wine to vegetables, and reduce by 2/3rd’s. Add the hot, drained farro and stir well.
5. Warm vegetable stock in microwave, and add to the risotto. Cook for approximately 20 minutes, or until risotto has reduced by half, stirring periodically on high heat.
6. Add 2 ¼ tbsp of the parmesan cheese and stir well until cheese is melted.
7. Add chopped parsley, lemon juice, remaining salt and pepper.
8. Garnish with remaining Parmesan cheese and serve.
Chocolate Chip Cookies with Walnuts
Makes 1 dozen cookies
1 cup - turbinado sugar (finely ground)
1 cup - rice bran oil
½ tsp - vanilla bean (split an scraped)
3 - whole eggs
1 cup - whole wheat flour (sifted)
1 tsp - baking powder
2 ⅓ tbsp - ground flax seeds
⅔ tsp - kosher salt
½ cup - cocoa nibs
⅔ cup - chopped walnuts
1. In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, add sugar and incorporate oil little by little until sugar is dissolved. Approximately 5 min.
2. Split vanilla beans in half lengthwise, and scrape out seeds inside. Add eggs and vanilla bean scrapings to the oil and sugar (ensure sugar is well ground). Mix until incorporated.
3. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, flax seeds, salt, cocoa nibs, and walnuts.
4. With mixer on low, add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture, little by little, until just combined.
5. Add cookie dough to a non-stick bowl, and chill in refrigerator overnight.
6. Preheat oven to 350°F. Using a medium ice cream scoop, portion out 12 cookies onto a cookie sheet lined with baking mat or parchment paper, spread out evenly.
7. Bake cookies in oven for 15-17 minutes, rotating pan half way through, until golden brown.
8. Remove cookies and place on a cooling rack. Let cool to room temperature.
This is the one of a series of "Dispatches from the Bay" from Katie Robbins, a freelance writer currently splitting her time between cities of New York and San Francisco. Her writing on food has appeared in Saveur, BlackBook, and the Atlantic Monthly's Food Channel.