pistachio dukkah-roasted beet and feta salad

Well folks, we are in the full swing of summer. I'm celebrating with lazy river tubing, stoop drinks and seeking out the closest air conditioned room. This month so far has been packed with park days, bike rides and thanks to accidentally signing up for ClassPass, a newly discovered love of FlyWheel and sunrise yoga. 

pistachio dukkah-roasted beet and feta salad || planting my roots

When it comes to working out, I'm a creature of habit. I wake up every morning at 5 a.m., run or bike until 5:45 a.m., lift light weights for a bit, then upwards and onwards with coffee in hand. That routine got shaken up by an ad I saw for ClassPass promoting four classes for $4. I fell for it hook, line and sinker. So enamored was I with ClassPass - so blissful from my sunrise vinyasa flows - that I also totally forgot to end by account after the four class promo ended. 

I suppose it was a happy mistake because I've been digging the mix-up to my schedule. Physically, I can tell a difference from working out new muscles, which I'm loving. Socially, I've been able to check out new classes bright and early with friends. And mentally, the classes have been awesome in allowing me to think about nothing other than how bad my legs are shaking, for example, in barre class. 

pistachio dukkah-roasted beet and feta salad || planting my roots
pistachio dukkah-roasted beet and feta salad || planting my roots
pistachio dukkah-roasted beet and feta salad || planting my roots

All this mind body wellness pairs perfectly with the bountiful hauls of fresh veggies I've been getting from Lancaster Farm Fresh. Just look at those beautiful beets! I cook with beets a lot, but in the spirit of mixing things up, I wanted to take classic roasted beets but try a new way of preparing them. Et voila - pistachio dukkah-roasted beets. Beets tossed generously with olive oil, aromatic herbs and crunchy chopped pistachios. dukkah is a staple herb and nut mixture hailing from Egypt, typically served as a dip for warm bread or as a coating for meats and fish. From here on out, it's something I'll be tossing a lot more roasted veggies in.

There are a lot of things I love about this recipe - the way the flavors come together, the colors of the beets (the more colorful, the better!), the way the briny feta compliments the bright herbs. I know nobody likes to blast their oven when it's 95 degrees out, but I promise, for this recipe it's worth it. Plus, after your beets are roasted, the rest of the recipe is light and cool, which is just what summer days call for. Serve as a side dish to grilled chicken or salmon, and in true summer fashion, with a cold glass of rose. 

pistachio dukkah-roasted beet and feta salad || planting my roots

pistachio dukkah-roasted beet and feta salad

serves 2 as a side dish

what you'll need:
1 pound beets
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup feta, crumbled
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1/4 cup pistachios, chopped

what you'll do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare beets by removing leaves, rinsing and removing skin with vegetable peeler. Cut into 1 inch chunks. Place beets in bowl and toss with 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt, cumin, coriander and black pepper. Mix until each beet piece is coated with oil and spice blend. 
  2. Pour coated beets into glass baking dish and place in oven. Roast for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully toss with spoon, then roast for 10 more minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
  3. Pour beets into large mixing bowl. Toss with mint, parsley, feta, sesame seeds and pistachios. Drizzle remaining 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil over beet mixture and serve immediately. 

June CSA Deliveries

If the picture below alone isn't enough, I don't know what will convince you of the beautiful bounty that was the entirety of the June CSA deliveries! From vibrant, fresh carrots to a surprise inclusion of juicy, sweet strawberries, June was filled with lovely, colorful veggies. Can you tell I was relying on Bon Appetit quite a bit? I blame their amazing podcast.

Crispy, cheesy, tahini-roasted cauliflower (recipe on Food52!) was an absolute highlight this month too. I guess it's not too shocking that anything dredged in cheese and tahini is going to be delicious, but this recipe is absolutely genius...will be using this technique on many vegetables to come. 

june csa deliveries || planting my roots
homemade toast with balsamic roasted strawberries and feta || planting my roots

homemade toasted bread with balsamic roasted strawberries and feta

salad with strawberries, fennel, fontina and toasted sunflower seeds || planting my roots

salad with strawberries, fennel, fontina and toasted sunflower seeds

roasted apricots, feta, leafy greens, avocado and pistachios || planting my roots

roasted apricots, feta, leafy greens, avocado and pistachios, nyt food

Carrot Green Chimichurri || planting my roots

carrot top chimichurri over roasted carrots and bison, love & lemons

may csa deliveries || planting my roots
beet and rye panzanella || planting my roots

beet and rye panzanella with orange and herbs, bon appetit

broccoli with peanuts and soy sauce || planting my roots

roasted and charred broccoli with peanuts, bon appetit

penne with roasted cauliflower and crispy capers || planting my roots

roasted cauliflower with crispy capers, herbs and lemon

garden fresh nicoise salad || planting my roots

garden fresh nicoise salad with crispy skin salmon

crispy, cheesy roasted tahini cauliflower salad || planting my roots

crispy, cheesy, tahini-roasted cauliflower, food52

kohlrabi tahini salad || planting my roots

kohlrabi tahini salad, dishing up the dirt

May CSA Deliveries

A monthly recount of how I put to use the fresh veggies I have delivered (almost near) my doorstep, thanks to Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-Op! May brought veggies familiar (radishes, scallions, asparagus and leafy lettuce) and new (chinese broccoli, hakurei turnips)...and even forced me to reconsider some very strong opinions re: swiss chard. Spoiler alert: I'm now a fan.

Of the bunch below, I think my favorite had to be the turnip miso soup with gomasio (via Dishing Up The Dirt). Speaking of which, Dishing Up The Dirt is a gold mine for CSA recipe searching inspiration. Andrea Bemis is a vegetable queen.

may csa delivery || planting my roots
fontina polenta with poached eggs and red chili flakes & garlic swiss chard || planting my roots

fontina polenta with poached eggs and red chili flakes & garlic swiss chard

frittata with green onions, smoked gouda and slow roasted tomatoes || planting my roots

frittata with green onions, smoked gouda and slow roasted tomatoes

gai lan (chinese broccoli with garlic, ginger and soy sauce, via steamy kitchen) || planting my roots

gai lan (chinese broccoli with garlic, ginger and soy sauce, steamy kitchen)

veggie packed salad with peppery radishes and sumac || planting my roots

veggie packed salad with peppery radishes and sumac

may csa deliveries || planting my roots
turnip miso soup with gomasio (via dishing up the dirt) || planting my roots

turnip miso soup with gomasio (dishing up the dirt)

poached eggs with sautéed turnip greens || planting my roots

poached eggs with sautéed
turnip greens

crispy skin salmon with chive butter, roasted cauliflower, asparagus and radish || planting my roots

crispy skin salmon with chive butter, cauliflower, asparagus & radish

polenta, pesto, slow roasted tomato and burrata || planting my roots

elotes avocado toast

i am feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and kind of like a retiree after spending a few glorious days in california. for the last three years, i've flown out west for a may vacation pilgrimage and i feel like the first, second and third times have all been charms. come this year, california was the destination of choice. matt and i kicked off our trip by landing in san francisco just in time to catch the sunset at mission dolores park and capped it off by cheers-ing wine in the seemingly endless vineyards of carmel valley. 

corn elotes with avocado toast || planting my roots

our trip was filled with so many incredible meals, but i suppose that's not totally unexpected in one of the culinary capitals of the country. the first meal in san francisco was dinner at mission chinese, where we split an unlikely but delicious combination of kung pao pastrami and matcha and squid ink noodles. from there, we had burritos, sourdough bread, and craft brews galore. in carmel valley, the wine was much more the star of the show than the food, but we were pretty much just looking for big bowls of pasta to soak up all the wine tastings at that point. whoops.

the recipe in this post was inspired by two san francisco forces: artisanal toast and a renewed focus on seasonal eating. the two culinary highlights of the trip both have humble roots but in san francisco, reached new, imaginative heights.

the based of elotes avocado toast || planting my roots

toast is the ultimate no-frills childhood food, something your parents would sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar before elementary school. in san francisco, however, it's topped with dollops of stone fruit jam, slices of avocado and flaky sea salt, drizzles of local honey and olive oils. in short, it's heaven and also the subject of great scorn for being "hipster food" or the reason millennials can't afford to buy homes

it feels almost silly sometimes to talk about the evolution of seasonal eating. for the vast majority of human history, that was the only option; there was no other way to eat short of preserving foods for when the growing season changed. over the last few decades, however, largely spurred on by culinary queen alice waters, there has been a movement to re-establish connections with our food. alice waters' hallmark restaurant, chez panisse is legendary for being based on a very simple premise: eat what the land provides. eat locally. eat what's in peak season. elevate it with creative flourishes and exceptional service.

corn elotes with avocado toast || planting my roots

it cannot be overstated how excited i was for the reservations we made at chez panisse. i've read every book on alice waters known to man, met her at the dupont farmers market, and have checked out several of her cookbooks from the library. she is such an icon to me for her groundbreaking and creative culinary talents, and also for the work she's done to improve our youngest generation's diets thanks to edible schoolyard. this is all to say, i've been counting down to this day for years.

so, we walked across the famed wooden porch and into my dining mecca, were greeted with a bubbling kir royale...AND THEN...a giant spider crawled across my plate. how far chez panisse fell from grace in a split second! for all the anticipation i had built up in my mind about what eating at chez panisse would be like, i never imagined it would involve me shrieking as i leaped out of my chair, nearly knocking over the table. thankfully, the evening quickly rebounded thanks to a flight of wine pairings and an exquisite dinner. the spider was simply a mere blip on the radar that was far funnier in retrospect than horrifying. what we dined on that lovely evening: 

kir royale and an amuse bouche of *i believe* morel mushrooms with mint on crostini
tartare of local halibut and king salmon en gelee with cucumber salad
soft shell crab amandine with celery and peas
 grilled wolfe ranch quali au poivre with asparagus, turnips and glazed radishes
brooks cherry clafoutis

elotes avocado toast || planting my roots

so, this is all to say that immediately upon returning from san francisco, i had a deep craving for toast and trying more alice waters' recipes. it wouldn't be a california-inspired meal if i didn't turn to sourdough, so you'll want fresh, thick slices of sourdough as the base for this elotes avocado toast. elotes, or grilled mexican street corn, is the perfect topping for this summery meal, which could easily double as a hearty breakfast or light lunch. this take on elotes relies on a cast iron skillet over a grill, but for a wonderful traditional grilled recipe, try out this one from serious eats.

as for the alice waters incorporation into this dish, i used her my pantry recipe for chile-lime salt. it keeps well for several months, and waters recommends serving it as a topping for a bountiful platter of radishes and carrots, or even over mango, watermelon or oranges...with a glass of mescal, she notes. in this case, it pairs perfectly with elotes, a dish bursting with juicy lime. 

corn elotes with avocado toast || planting my roots

elotes avocado toast

serves two

what you'll need:

for chile-lime salt (from alice waters' my pantry):
1 tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp chile powder
zest of 1 lime, finely zested (save lime to use juice in next part of recipe)

for elotes toast:
kernels from 1 ear corn
1/4 cup cotija cheese, finely crumbled
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped, plus extra to taste
juice of 1 lime
1/4 tsp chile-lime salt
2 slices thick sourdough bread, toasted
1/2 of an avocado

what you'll do:

  1. make chile-lime salt by stirring together sea salt, chile powder and lime zest. set rest of lime aside to use juice for the elotes mixture. store in a tightly covered container, as it will keep for several months. 
  2. heat cast iron skillet, then pour in corn kernels. reduce heat to low and cook for approximately 5 minutes, or until kernels begin to brown. stir occasionally. 
  3. while corn cooks, in a small bowl mix cotija cheese, cilantro, lime juice and chile-lime salt. once combined, pour into cast iron skillet and mix thoroughly with corn kernels. cook for approximately 3-4 minutes. remove from heat.
  4. spread avocado on slices of toast, then top with elotes mixture. garnish with a squeeze of lime juice and cilantro and dig in!

slow roasted tomatoes, burrata, pesto n' polenta

i am a creature of habit in all aspects of life. nowhere is this more pronounced than in my morning routine. alarm sounds at 5 a.m., out of bed eight minutes later, brush my teeth, toss my hair up and head straight to the gym. bike for 40 minutes or run for 40 minutes. shower, make-up, hair x repeat every morning.

now, that's an early morning. but, what grounds me each and every day is coffee, more coffee, podcasts and morning news round-ups. each day it's a steady rotation of bon appétit foodcast, radio cherry bombe, this american life or stuff you missed in history class. (ps - the latest TAL podcast "act v" is hands down one of the best). i love the act of starting every day picking up new tidbits of stories or things i quite literally did miss in history class. 

slow roasted tomatoes, burrata, pesto and polenta || planting my roots

once i settle into my office, then begins the morning e-mail round-up. it's the same three e-mails that greet me every weekday morning - nyt daily briefing, politico playbook and the skimm. politico gives me all the wonky, insider-y baseball dc news. skimm makes me lol and feel like i'm chatting with my friends. nyt is the most straightforward and i love seeing what photo they pick each morning. 

but the real nyt e-mail gem rolls in around 10 a.m. each morning - nyt cooking. there is nothing more calming in the morning than reading sam sifton's very pointed view on exactly what i should be cooking that day and why. i am obsessed with his writing style and cannot think of a better crew of recipe developers than those at nyt (hi, melissa clark!). the inspiration for the dish included in this post came from a nyt cooking recipe, "amazingly sweet slow roasted tomatoes."

slow roasted tomatoes || planting my roots

the slow roasted tomatoes here are nestled on top of a bed of warm, rich polenta, creamy burrata and fresh pesto. it's a multi-step process - make the polenta, roast the tomatoes, whip up the pesto, but oh my is it worth it. perfect for a lovely summer outdoor dinner, and let's be real, i'll take any excuse to eat burrata. 

due to the fact that i was making a big batch of pesto for our weekly friend potluck dinner and i have a best friend with a nut allergy, this pesto is nut-free. it delivers all the freshness of your classic pesto, but strips it down to just five ingredients and one simple recipe instruction. 

slow roasted tomatoes, burrata, pesto and polenta || planting my roots

slow roasted tomatoes, burrata and pesto on a bed of polenta

serves four

what you'll need:

amazingly sweet slow roasted tomatoes
1 pound small plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
kosher salt, to taste
 a tiny amount of sugar
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

basil pesto
2 cups fresh basil
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 clove garlic
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp kosher salt

classic italian polenta
3 cups water
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup corn grits (polenta)
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup parmesan, finely grated

12 oz burrata
black pepper and kosher salt, to taste
fresh basil leaves (optional, for garnish)

what you'll do:

  1. preheat the oven to 300 degrees. line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. put the halved tomatoes in a bowl and toss with the olive oil. place the tomatoes, cut side up, on the baking sheet. sprinkle with salt and a tiny amount of sugar. place in the oven and roast for 2 hours. remove from the heat and allow to cool for about 30 minutes. 
  2. while tomatoes are roasting, prepare pesto. place all pesto ingredients in food processor and blend until thoroughly combined (about 2 minutes). set aside.
  3. to make the polenta, in a large, deep pan over high heat bring water and salt to a boil; gradually stir in polenta. reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring frequently to prevent sticking until mixture is very thick (about 20 minutes); use a long-handled spoon because mixture pops and bubbles and can burn. stir in butter and more salt if you'd like. transfer to serving bowls and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
  4. top each bowl of polenta by arranging roasted tomatoes, a spoonful of pesto and burrata, finish with black pepper and kosher salt, and a pinch of fresh basil leaves, if you'd like.