lunchtime glory days & a salad “recipe.”

in college, my favorite lunch spot was Mrs. Green’s. to my great benefit, it was right next to the business school that i spent many seemingly endless days at for 2+ years. had Chick-fil-A been in good old Harrisonburg at the time*, much less fifty steps from my home-away-from-home, i’m not sure how i would have fared. but i digress.

Mrs. Green’s was in the basement of a building, and – maybe for choosing lettuce and vegetables? – the unexpected rewards of lunch there were the sunshine & lake views. the back side of the building was lower than the front, so our tired minds & sleepy peepers welcomed the vitamin D and entertainment from the ducks playing in Newman Lake.

it was a surprise to exactly no one that the easiest part of lunch, for me, was deciding where to go. however, once i was there, all bets were off. the spread of deliciousness to choose from was fantastic. different types of lettuce, spring greens, spinach…endless vegetables & proteins & fruit…toppings, toppings, & more toppings…dressings. all ready & waiting. it’s a good thing we paid by visit, not by plate weight.

those were lunchtime glory days! in trying to channel my inner Mrs. Green, this little ditty has become my faithful go-to. with a little prep (roasting beets & shaking up a jar of dressing) that is mostly hands-off (hooray!), i can throw it together quickly, it travels well, and, so far, it’s been a crowd-pleaser, too.

beets are a vegetable that i first started to explore, basically out of sheer necessity, six years ago. i joined a CSA for the first time, and these little jewels were, shall we say, bountiful. the only thing i connected beets to up until that time were the magenta, pungent pools of pickled, rubbery cubes on salad bars, but i was hopeful. i mean, how could something so pretty (deep purple! gold! striped! even the greens are cool) not have at least a little potential?!

friends, i’m here to tell you that i found their potential. and it’s delicious. just sweet enough, velvety, good both warm and cold, and easy. that’s maybe one of their finer features on the topic of weekend prep for weekday meals. this delightfully thrown together salad has all the right things going on between crisp greens, sweet/savory beets, creamy avocado & feta, fresh berries, and salty nuts all mingling with the maple balsamic vinaigrette.

with beets and greens rocking it in our CSA boxes and berries at the peak of their season, i’ve been a pretty happy camper re-living a little slice of those good old glory days.

*seriously, the pickins were slim in suuuper-small-town VA when i was there. it was a BIG day when we got a Super Walmart in addition to the regular Walmart.

:: roasted beet salad with maple balsamic vinaigrette ::
how to roast beets adapted – barely – from the kitchn

beet salad with maple balsamic vinaigrette

salad recipes sometimes seem a little silly to me because you can throw together whatever you like & happen to have. however, just as quickly as i say that, sometimes i need to see a new pile of goodness to keep my salad rotation – pardon the pun – fresh. with all of that said, the list of ingredients below are the the cast of characters that are often on hand at our house, but sub in whatever you have & love!

i used the kitchn’s recipe for oven roasted beets the first time i made them this way. their instructions are great, but in the interest of keeping things all in one place, i’ve outlined the process with my adjustments below. i roast a bunch in one batch over the weekend, peel & dice them, and they’re read to go all week.

ingredients

salad
1½ cups greens
⅓ cup roasted beets, diced
⅓ cup roasted sweet potato, diced
¼ avocado, diced
⅓ cup cooked chicken, diced/shredded
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
handful of fresh or dried berries
nuts or seeds (sunflower seeds, pepitas, chopped pecans…whatever you like)
maple balsamic vinaigrette

maple balsamic vinaigrette
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
½ teaspoon dry mustard powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

instructions

maple balsamic vinaigrette
add all of the ingredients to a jar of your choice (pint sized or larger) & shake to combine.

roasted beets

  1. preheat oven to 400º.
  2. tear off a piece of aluminum foil that’s big enough to create a little packet for the amount of beets you’re roasting. set the foil on a baking pan/sheet.
  3. if your beets still have the greens on them, cut them off right where they connect to the beet.
    *save your stems & greens! they are great washed, cut, and mixed into your salad greens, sautéed as a side or mixed in to eggs, in smoothies, or lots of other ways. this salad from sara at sprouted kitchen is the bomb.
  4. scrub the beets a little & and toss them onto the foil. no need to dry them; extra water is actually good. it will create some steam in the foil packet & will help the skins slide off even more easily. (before i seal up the foil, i make sure there is a tablespoon or so of water in the packet.)
  5. trim off any rough parts of the beets if you’d like, but even that’s probably not necessary.
  6. roll the top & sides of the aluminum foil to create a little rectangular packet.
  7. slide the pan into the oven & roast for 45-60 minutes (45 for smaller beets, 60 for larger).
  8. take the pan out of the oven & let the beets cool, still enclosed in the packet, for 20 mins or so.
  9. peeled roasted beetopen up the packet, and when the beets are cool enough to touch, apply a little pressure & a downward motion to the skin of the beet, and it should slide right off.

 

 

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gratitude, day 11.

This gallery contains 25 photos.

gratitude is a miraculous, wonderful thing. it really does turn what we have into enough. sometimes – often, even – it reminds us that what we have is even more than we need. although it’s kind of a “thing” for … Continue reading

holding on to summer.

pickle profile

after a picture-perfect weekend of sunny, warm days – particularly at the end of september…in minnesota, no one wants to be the first one to say it. after all, i had just gotten myself warmed up to the idea of fall. and then we had last week in all of its glory, and this morning, we woke up to that chill in the air again. we’re not there just yet – there are sunny days still ahead, but fall is here. in a way, the burst of warm air & sunshine with everyone out & about soaking it all in actually helps the transition. i can’t quite say that i’m fully ready to turn over t-shirts for sweaters & flip-flops for boots, but i have begun the transition a little in the kitchen. we had mediterranean beef stew last week, chili with our small group a few weeks ago, and chicken noodle soup for dinner tonight.

one of my favorite parts of the summer-to-fall season transition is getting to enjoy a little of both. these days, it’s not unusual for me to have a pot of soup simmering and a pile of produce ready to preserve: canning tomatoes, basil, garlic, cucumbers, onion, raspberries. we canned 40 pounds of tomatoes so we can cozy up with warms soups & stews all fall & winter, froze jars of pesto, stashed away jars of jam to open when the first snow flies, and made four pints of a fun, new-to-me version of pickles. the recipe came in one of our CSA weekly newsletters this summer, and friends made them right away. their rave reviews had me slicing cucumbers the next weekend, and here we are. we’re suckers for our CSA’s garlic, so i couldn’t help adding it to the recipe. it didn’t disappoint, and now i can’t get enough of the garlicky, sweet, crunchy little snack.

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preserving our csa: vegetable broth.

so we get this CSA box each week. if you know me or we interact in any way, you are well aware of this ;o) each week’s box is packed with the most delicious fruit, herbs, and vegetables we sink our teeth into all year, and it is undoubtedly one of my favorite experiences of the entire year. to me, it is the epitome of summer: the play of the hot sun on warm days & cool nights creating beautiful harvests, the mouthwatering taste of the freshest, most succulent fruits & veggies, and relationships built with our kind, generous farmers. laura, adam & their staff are truly some of the most joyful people, and they are sold out with passion for all things farming & loving on their members. i’ve said it before, and i imagine i’ll say it for all of my days: we have the very best CSA, and we could not be more thankful for them.

having such an incredible bounty to work with keeps us on our toes as we make sure to take full advantage of it. that is, for anything that isn’t practically devoured on the spot. those mixed heirloom & sungold cherry tomatoes are – no joke – like candy! the carrots are what carrots should really look & taste like. i wouldn’t fathom peeling them – a little scrub, and they are good to go. then there is the garlic; we savor every clove. dustin is convinced it is the best garlic he’s ever tasted (i agree wholeheartedly but love that he’s so passionate about it). at the end of the season, we buy as much garlic as we can to last us as far into fall & winter as possible. we have growing list of go-to recipes that help us maximize every last morsel of the goodness, but there are still scraps, right? peels from cucumbers, discarded carrot tops, garlic & onion skins. it was almost painful to toss them out!

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10 things: 08.2013.

10things_witness

  1. we kicked off this month’s dinners making quinoa-beet burgers. and we both liked them!
  2. a special bonus visit gave us the chance to spend more time with the nieces celebrating piper & gabi’s birthdays in minnesota, too :o) and i got to go with on a very special trip to the American Girl doll store.
  3. to celebrate our first wedding month-iversary, we made the most delicious treat: peach dumplings (thank you, smitten kitchen cookbook)!
  4. i felt so special to be able to video chat with miss piper after her first day of kindergarten!!
  5. we had a blast at the state fair – dustin’s first time :o)
  6. dustin started his residency.
  7. our little lemons have started to turn yellow!! i find myself googling “how to take care of a lemon tree” many times a week…
  8. we are slowly finding our new rhythm & routines now that we are both working.
  9. watching dustin & blackjack together every morning is just the sweetest thing.
  10. we have had an onslaught of delicious tomatoes from our produce CSA, so tried a new recipe – a cozy kitchen’s heirloom tomato jam. it’s insanely good. i pretty much wanna spread it on everything.

10 things: 02.12.

need to work on timeliness of posting these :o)

february, 2012

  1. i LOVE celebrating friends.  can’t wait to meet babes youngblood!
  2. i’m not a huge fan of toronto.  yet.  i’ll keep trying.
  3. this month was a toughie.
  4. i got to sign up for my very-very-very-favorite-ever CSA. again!  I’M SO EXCITED!
  5. uber excited for this, this, & this.  from a few of my favorites: her, her, & her.
  6. still camped out with caroline’s message on rest.
  7. i had the BEST valentine.
  8. being with old friends is good for the soul.  even when you’re sleep deprived & chasing 6 kids under 5 yrs old.
  9. loved this from jon acuff: “every day i find a new way to need more grace than the day before. every day God reminds me i won’t exhaust His supply.”  thankful.
  10. “it looked like death had won, but love will last forever” [wish the video was still live]

csa box 1: let the fun begin.

i have been waiting to join a csa (community supported agriculture) for what feels like forever…even though i’m pretty confident it’s only been a few years. i think i first heard about csa’s a few years ago and completely fell for the concept. at it’s simplest: farmer’s sell shares of their harvest. harvest-loving people like me buy a share or half share in exchange for a weekly or bi-weekly bulging box of produce, herbs & the like.  brilliant, right?! upon catering to the total nerdy researcher in me, i read up on different local farms, share options, prices, etc, and i found the *perfect* option for me: loon organics. oh – i was smitten! now i really wanted to join. unfortunately, with all the hulabaloo of last summer/fall, i had to table the idea. but…well…the saying is true: absence makes the heart grow fonder. when this year’s csa sign-up started, i was on it lickety-split!

laura has been awesome to work with from my initial email to communication & newsletters. there was a little hiccup yesterday with picking up my box at the drop off location (loon organics is in hutchinson, and you can pick up at the farm, but they also deliver around the ‘burbs & minneapolis to make it convenient), but she was so generous & accommodating in getting back to me about it. one of the farm employees actually delivered the box right to my house last night! seriously – that’s just how you’d hope things could work out.

i had gotten the newsletter detailing what would be in the box this week…but it somehow didn’t prepare me for what i saw when i opened the box. it was like CHRISTMAS!!

csa box 1 loot: red “cherriette” radishes, japanese white salad turnips, dinosaur kale, purple kohlrabi, strawberries, dried black beans, cilantro, broccoli, green curly leaf lettuce, baby spinach, garlic scapes & baby bok choi. eeek!