roasted red beets & spring green asparagus

2 a banded beets orla kiely plate 3 sliced beets in pan with salt and pepper 4 rubber banded asparagus 5 asparagus on top of roasted beets salt and pepper 6 beets asparagus toasted pine nuts mozzarella asparagus beets roasting pan topped with mozzarella toasted pine nuts
The outdoor market in my neighborhood is now open for the season, and I have been enjoying the undeniable pleasures of fresh locally grown produce. So far in Northern Indiana that means sweet teensy strawberries, leafy salad greens, rainbows of beets, and “hand-snapped” (one farmer tells me each time) bundles of asparagus. My roasted red beet and spring green asparagus recipe comes together perfectly this time of year. Minimal dishes required for maximum flavors in one roasting pan: sweet/smoky/earthy/smooth/crunchy.

Serves 1 or 2 depending on the situation. I imagine this dish as a beautiful accompaniment to grilled salmon or an oven-poached white fish.

3 small red beets
12 green asparagus spears
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
1 tablespoon pine nuts
mozzarella
lemon wedge

Preheat oven to 350-degrees.
Scrub beets and slice into coins. Place in roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for 8 minutes, turning once.
Meanwhile, rinse asparagus and chop off the woody ends. Place asparagus on top of the roasted beets and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt & pepper. Bake together for 10 minutes more, turning once. At the end of ten minutes you should be able to smell the roasted asparagus and see a slight browning on the stems. If needed, keep the pan in the oven a few minutes longer.
While the asparagus and beets are roasting in the oven, toast the pine nuts in a medium skillet for about five minutes. Toss them frequently or they will quickly scorch. Set aside to cool.
Top the warm roasted red beets and spring green asparagus with slices of fresh mozzarella and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice never hurts either.

celery date salad

Last week my mom spent a day researching the great-granddaughter of Martha Washington at the library where I work, so we had a lunch date downtown!  We walked to a sit-down restaurant where I ordered a falafel with a side dish of celery salad. I enjoyed so much of that chunky crunch that I made up my own salad at home based on the combination of flavors on my lunch plate that day.  It’s a great dish to prepare on a night when you crave the catharsis that accompanies chopping vegetables, and now every time I eat it I will remember the intrigue of Mary Custis Lee and that fun lunch.

For the salad:

Chop up celery, dates, and red onions.
Whisk together apple cider vinegar and honey.
Toss it all real good.
Sprinkle crumbled feta over top.

Turn a side dish into a meal:

Add crispy bacon and/or roasted chickpeas to the pile.

roasted analogous roots

I unloaded my farmers market basket of root vegetables and realized that they made up a loose analogous color scheme: parsnips, beets, carrots, and sweet potatoes!  I liked them all together so much that I decided they should simply be roasted together.  Tossed up with olive oil, salt, and pepper in a 425-degree oven for about 30-40 minutes (longer for thicker), they ensued sweet folksy nourishment.

breakfast at wimbledon (in indiana)

When the players take the grass on center court in England, it is 9am here in the States. We turn the TV set on, and John McEnroe welcomes us to breakfast at Wimbledon. But where’s the grub, Johnny Mac?

One year during the tournament I was staying with my aunt and uncle who are also tennis fans. I will never forget my Uncle George bringing eggs, bacon, and orange juice out to us in the living room during the championship match. “It’s breakfast at Wimbledon, dummy,” he said. Yes it is!

Most years for me, it’s coffee at Wimbledon, but this year I put together a breakfast for my folks (not to mention that they get ESPN, so I can actually watch the sportscast). I baked everything in a 350-degree oven, and the results were nearly trophy worthy.

Nutty Zucchini Boats w/o Nuts
Start with halved zucchini (thank you Mary for sharing your abundance!) and scoop out the middle. Lightly coat in olive oil, sprinkle with raw sunflower seeds, shredded pecorino romano cheese, and a pinch of salt & pepper. Bakes about 35 minutes.

Bacon Wrapped Figs & Pineapple Chunks
Halve raw figs (I used California Mission Figs this time) and chop up chunks of fresh pineapple. Get the best bacon strips you can find and cut them in thirds. Wrap each fig half and pineapple chunk in bacon and secure with a toothpick. Sprinkle smoked demerara sugar (ordered some from 240Sweet) over the tops. Brown sugar will substitute. Bakes about 30 minutes.

Ramekin Baked Eggs
Sautee onions, mushrooms, and spinach in olive oil over low heat until the spinach wilts. Place this mix (or whatever mix you like: add peppers, ham, etc) in the bottom of a ramekin. Crack 1-2 eggs over the mix. Spoon 1 teaspoon of heavy cream over each egg. Sprinkle shredded pecorino romano (or your fav. cheese) over the tops, dot with olive oil, and a pinch of salt & pepper. I put my ramekins in a casserole dish and filled the bottom of the dish with water. This step may not be necessary. If you prefer a runny yolk, watch the oven. Bakes about 25 minutes.

Serve with toast, jam, and beverages. CONGRATULATIONS SERENA & ROGER. Hooray over 30 club; looking forward to the Olympics!

sesame sauce 2x

There’s a sauce I’ve been digging, and it goes like this: whisk together equal parts tahini (sesame paste), maple syrup, and balsamic vinegar / season with salt and pepper to taste / toss with your favorite noodles or use as a dip for your favorite prepared veggies. This combo is simple, perky, nutty, and just sweet enough (I think I wouldn’t mind being described that way – ha).

Lately I have enjoyed the sauce on sweet potato/buckwheat noodles with toasted sesame seeds and over brown rice noodles and steamed broccoli (the latter I enjoy most as a cold noodle dish; it’s toothy and all the more flavorful after fridging overnight). If you are using this sauce with noodles, be sure to first anoint the noodles with a little olive oil before mixing in the sauce. An 8 oz. package of noodles needs about 2 tablespoons of each sauce ingredient.

cumin crush sweet potato strips

I have a thing for cumin right now. I cannot get enough of it with beans, rice, soup, and sweet potatoes. My recipe for baked cumin sweet potato strips is simple, spicy, tangy, sweet, and healthful all at once.  Enjoy them hot or at room temperature as a rustic snack in a mug or as a side dish on your plate.

Ingredients

3 medium sweet potatoes
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
salt for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 400-degrees.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix together olive oil, vinegar, and cumin with a pastry brush.
Lightly brush parchment paper with cumin mixture.

Wash, dry, and slice sweet potatoes to desired thickness.
Place sweet potato slices on parchment paper.
Brush tops with remaining cumin mixture and sprinkle with kosher or sea salt.

Bake 25-40 minutes depending on thickness of strips and your crunchiness preference.

cloudy with a chance of pepperoni

I love storm clouds, especially when they are topped with salty and sweet things and shared with my favorite people. Are you surprised to know that Barrett’s tale of the town of Chewandswallow was one of my favorite books (I am afraid to watch the movie – should I?), and perhaps one of the purchasing influences behind one of my favorite cookie cutters? I get a lot of use out of my Herriott Grace cloud cookie cutter for cookies (once I took pictures of the applesauce donut clouds I made with it), but this time I used it for snack pizzas! Pizzaclouds are a bit tedious but fun to individualize. During this round I made three varieties: chèvre/sweet onions (caramelized in olive oil, cinnamon & sugar)/sundried tomato-stuffed green olives, fresh mozzarella/basil pesto/tomato, smoked provolone/marinara/pepperoni. Wishing your stormy Spring days to be sweet and savory.