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Catie's Spring Salad

As salads go, spring versions tend to be lighter, showcasing baby lettuces or the new harvest of the season.  This salad does both, but in an amped up way that nods a bit to the winter right behind us.  This one was made by my friend Catie, and it may be my favorite yet.

First in are carrots (go for the thinner, new carrots if you can) and asparagus, roasted until golden, but still crisp, followed by pickled pink beets and shaved fennel.  Lots of baby spinach and a big handful of dill add body to the mix.  It all comes together with a mustard seed vinaigrette (or rather, a mustard-shallot vinaigrette with coarse ground mustard).

Added bonus is with all those vegetables, it doubles as a salad and a side – which hits a nice note in my book.

When we had this at Catie & Jimmy’s, she served it with herb roasted pork and duck-fat potatoes (crazy-good), but I think it would be equally at home with roast chicken or grilled salmon, on a weeknight or for dinner with friends.

But either way, you may need to finish it off with chocolate-chip bread pudding — she did, and plus, we gotta balance those veggies some how!

Catie's Spring Dinner

Bagna Cauda Salad

This is a definite salad of chicken and the egg – did I see the recipe on Food 52 because I spent Saturday morning at the farmer’s market, and knew that beets and turnips and brussels sprouts were still in abundance?  Or did I notice the beets because I had already spied the Bagna Càuda Salad as part of the Oscar Menu ideas on the same site?

Regardless, I knew the bright raw vegetables would provide a nice contrast to the rich and heavenly dinner being planned by friends.


I have always loved beets, particularly in their ever present carnation with oranges and goat cheese, where they are usually roasted to develop a deep, earthy sweetness.

Here, where they are raw and shaved paper-thin the earthiness is more akin to carrot, which we are used to in its saw state.  They combine well with other raw vegetables such as turnips, radishes, actual carrots and brussels sprout leaves.  You could add other roots (ribbons of butternut squash were in the original)or take away some of the components, as long you still have 4 or so different offerings in the mix.

As for the name of this salad, ‘bagna càuda’ means hot bath, and traditional refers to a warm lemon-garlic-anchovy dip that is served with vegetables, fondue-style.  Here, those same ingredients are used to make a {strong, but delightful} dressing, which adds body and bite to an otherwise virtuous salad.

Because the raw vegetables can hold the dressing for a much longer time than lettuce salads, this is also great to make ahead, for a packed/picnic lunch perhaps or just a dinner where you would rather be with your guests that back in the kitchen.  One thing, make sure you have a mandoline or slicer – just a knife would take this from heavenly to torture.

slicing beets

sliced rainbow of beets

For recipe, Read the rest of this entry »

Quinoa, Beets and Orange

For as often as we eat quinoa, I realized it has a relatively small presence on the blog.  I’d say at least once a week (if not more) quinoa will show up in some form for lunch or dinner – or breakfast on occasion.  So when my aunt emailed me asking for a more ideas on how to use the protein-packed seed, I picked up my camera and snapped a few pics of the lunch I was making right when she wrote.

And no surpise that it was a quinoa salad.


If you aren’t familiar with this ancient ingredient, although it seems like a grain, it is actually a chenopod and is related to beets and spinach.  It is also one of the few plant-based foods that is a complete protein, so it a great thing to incorporate into meals that don’t contain meat (which everyone can use a few of, carnivore or not :)).

For this version, I roasted beets in my new favorite way.  Instead of peeling the beets after they are cooked (and HOT and messy), just quickly run a vegetable peeler around the root before roasting.  A quick cut, a small douse of olive oil, salt and pepper, and a sprinkling of fresh herbs (if you have any handy) and pop them into a 400ºF oven and roast for about 30-40 minutes, flipping them once during that time.

Roasting Beets


Hello – why are all beets not roasted like that??? You know those good crusty nubs that form on the edges of anything you roast?  Well, now beets finally have that!  Old method of individually wrapping unpeeled beets in foil – g’bye!

After that, I just tossed in a segmented orange (I used a blood orange because it it January and I love them), some pan-roasted tofu (again, new method there – non-stick skillet is MANDATORY, requires almost no oil!!), some lettuce, and a quick bit of olive oil, sherry vinegar, salt and pepper.  Since the beets and tofu were seasoned during cooking, it didn’t take too much more.

I know this is hardly a recipe, but I love getting new ideas for how to keep simple and inexpensive meals from getting boring, and I think this one fits the bill nicely!

Let me know your favorite things to pair with quinoa!

Quinoa and beet salad

As we already discussed, there is no real recipe here, so I am not going to write up non-exsitant dressing proportions, but here is how to cook quinoa if you are not familiar with it.

Read the rest of this entry »


After my California trip, I was ready to come home to sunshine, asparagus and English peas… Instead, I was welcomed by rain, temperatures back in the 30ºs and more of the same at the market. Not be a be a total bore and keep mentioning the weather, but this was not quite what I had in mind.

To make the most of it, I decided to make one last winter salad. The hearty grain kind that I can keep in the fridge for a few days, and have it for lunch while we wait out this (please let it be the last) cold-snap.


We know that beets and carrots are a great match, and since they are some of the few things in the produce section that I have yet to tire of, I thought they would make a nice starting point for this salad. I decided to use golden beets, knowing this salad will likely sit refrigerator for a few days, and their color does not bleed the way red beets do.  As for the prep, they were roasted and cubed, but I kept the carrots raw – you know, with spring *being here* and all.

Read the rest of this entry »


When I occasionally (ha!) casually (haha!) mention that I miss California, you may think I mean my friends, or my family or even the weather. And while that is very true, what I really miss is my stuff!  All my plates and glasses, gadgets and knives. I am obviously getting by just fine here, but NYC apartments don’t have the same kind of space, so anything more than 4 forks and a wooden spoon are tucked away in storage.

But why am I waxing on about this now?  Because if I had my cuisinart here, I would make these beet and carrot latkes daily. Not having to use a box grater and have my hands stained red would really increase the frequency of these pancakes on my menus.

They are my perfect food – a bit virtuous (carrots and beets are the stars) and a bit naughty (they are cooked in oil and topped with sour cream after all).  They taste familiar but still new, with the earthiness from the beets and sweetness from the carrots, and they can easily replace the bad potato pancakes you may have had all these years.

Read the rest of this entry »


Martha Stewart I am not -
I have no intention of
whittling my own table
and can handle a martini
like nobody's business -
but I do have lots of
great ideas on cooking,
entertaining, and living
that I want to share with you.

Together, perhaps we can find
ways to have a bit more fun!


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