FIELD & FOREST

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tomato and avocado salad with sweet corn and herb vinaigrette

dinner, lunch, salads, summer, vegetarianRachel Sanders2 Comments

I would wager a guess that 95% of you are really excited about this tomato and avocado salad, while 5% of you were immediately distracted by the denim tuxedo lurking behind that bowl of tomatoes. Lest ye judge me too harshly, note that it was laundry day. However, after wearing this outfit for a full afternoon, I can confidently say that this is a pretty rad shirt-pants combo. It is comfy, weather-appropriate for fall, and denim hides dirt well enough that you can't even tell that I was jumped by a chicken shortly before I took these photos.

But is this a fashion blog? Clearly not! Back to salad.

Richard and I went to the farmers' market this past weekend for the first time in two months, which is quite infrequent and very unlike us in general, but very like us when we are in camping mode. And the most gorgeous tomatoes are in season right now, all shapes, sizes, hues, varieties. Just color coming out of your ying yang. And we haven't been buying any for WEEKS, so we seriously need to make up for lost time.

This is a nifty little salad to keep in your back pocket for summer. You chop up some stuff, pile it on a plate, and drizzle a bit of vinaigrette over the whole thing. The point, I think, is to highlight all of those beautiful summer veggies when they are at their very best and most flavorful, so there's no drowning of anything in dressing. You could add other things if you like... grilled summer squash, lentils, fresh cheese, you name it. As is, this salad can double as a great topping (or relish, if chopped more finely) for grilled meat, or a nice brunch side for polenta or potatoes and eggs.

Ooo, just thinking about that is making me excited to go to bed already so I can wake up and make breakfast. BYE.

tomato and avocado salad with sweet corn and herb vinaigrette
serves 2 as a light main, or up to 4 as a side salad

1 small fresh shallot
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar, white wine vinegar, or lemon juice
kosher salt
black pepper
2 pounds assorted heirloom and cherry tomatoes
1 ear sweet corn
1 just-ripe (not mushy) avocado
1 teaspoon dijon or whole grain mustard (optional - omit if using cilantro (see next ingredient))
1 tablespoon mixed chopped herbs, such as parsley, basil, cilantro, or chives
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
flaky salt, such as Maldon, to finish (optional, but delicious)

Thinly slice the shallot and place it in a small bowl with the white balsamic vinegar, a pinch of kosher salt, and a grind or two of black pepper. Set aside.

Slice the heirloom tomatoes into thick slices or wedges. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half. Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit, quarter each half, and cut each quarter into 4 wedges or slices (wedges are easiest to cut if you remove the avocado skin first). Husk the sweet corn and slice the kernels away from the cob.

Alternate piling tomatoes and avocado slices on a serving plate, and scatter with the sweet corn. Pick the shallot slices out of the vinegar (reserving the vinegar), and scatter the shallot over the tomatoes, avocado, and corn.

Add the mustard (if using) and finely chopped herbs to the vinegar mixture and whisk to combine. Whisk in the olive oil until the vinaigrette emulsifies and thickens slightly. Taste the vinaigrette, adjust seasoning if needed, and spoon about half of it over the salad. Finish with a light sprinkle of flaky salt, and serve with the remaining vinaigrette and more flaky salt on the side.

mujaddara, summer edition (with roasted tomatoes, goat cheese, basil, and lemon)

breakfast, dinner, lunch, main dishes, salads, summer, vegetarianFieldandForestComment

What can I say about mujaddara...

If Mujaddara were a person, and I took him as my +1 to a party, he would not necessarily be the most attractive person there, or the tallest, or the most athletic, but he would be the snappiest dresser and get along with everyone and he would be an amazing dancer and he would tell the funniest jokes and everyone would be like, "oh, Mujaddara, you're so funny," and Mujaddara would be all "I know, right?" but not in a narcissistic way, because that's just not the kind of person Mujaddara is.

And, if this was your party, Mujaddara would also stay late to help you wash the dishes, and maybe drive the random dude that passed out on your carpet back to wherever he came from (which is likely across town because it is a law of the universe that a random dude will always pass out an inconveniently far distance from his house) and give him a box of saltines and a ginger ale from the stash that Mujaddara keeps in his car for just such occasions, because Mujaddara doesn't care who you are, he just wants you to feel great.

Mujaddara is pretty much the perfect addition to any party, and you would be happy to have met him. He would have helped you to have a great time, and you would invite him back in the future. And I would probably be in your good graces for bringing Mujaddara along in the first place.

Mujaddara
Serves 4-6 as a vegetarian main course, or 8-12 as a side dish

I like bringing things like Mujaddara to potlucks and collaborative dinner parties, because you just never know what's going to be at a potluck. I have been to a dinner potluck where every person (including me!) brought cheese and crackers. Let's not do that again! This dish will quickly serve as either a hearty side or vegetarian main dish, seamlessly filling any gap in your dinner party. Not to mention that it tastes fantastic at room temperature, making it the perfect dish for picnics or events where the official meal time is unclear. It's just the best!

Cooking notes: you can make this with any kind of rice or leftover rice, but jasmine has a really nice flavor for this dish. Cooking the jasmine rice with a glug of olive oil will help the grains remain separate, which means they can be more easily mixed with the lentils and onions.

2 cups cooked beluga lentils (about 1 cup uncooked)
2 cups cooked jasmine rice (about 1 cup uncooked)
2 medium yellow onions, caramelized (instructions below)
1 cup cooked greens (I sautéed some finely sliced kale leaves in olive oil and garlic), optional
salt, to taste
Lemon juice, to taste
1 pint mixed cherry, grape, and/or pear tomatoes, roasted (instructions below), and divided
1/3 cup chopped pistachios, divided
2 ounces soft goat cheese (I used chevre)
1/4 cup loosely packed basil leaves
Piment d'espelette or hot paprika, to taste (optional)

In a large bowl, combine the lentils, rice, caramelized onions, and greens. Add salt and lemon juice to taste, and mix gently using your hands (so you don't break the rice grains). This lentil/rice/onion combo is what is known as Mujaddara.

Add half of the roasted cherry tomatoes and half of the pistachios to the bowl, again mixing gently with your hands to combine. Transfer to a serving dish. At this point, you can cover and refrigerate the dish for up to 3 days. (The pistachios will soften a bit during this time, but the dish will still be very tasty.)

Just before serving, scatter the remaining roasted tomatoes and pistachios over the Mujaddara, then crumble the goat cheese over the tomatoes and pistachios. Finely chiffonade the basil leaves, and scatter them over the Mujaddara. Finish with a sprinkle of piment d'espelette or hot paprika for color and heat.

For basic caramelized onions: peel and halve the onions, and thinly slice from top to tail. Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a cast iron or heavy-bottomed skillet over medium low heat, and add the onions, tossing to evenly coat them in the fat. Cook over medium low heat until their texture is meltingly soft, about 15-20 minutes. Once soft, sprinkle with a good pinch of kosher salt and crank up the heat to medium-high. Keep an eye on the onions and stir frequently, allowing them to brown and color. Once the onions are a deep amber in color, deglaze the pan with a little water (or white wine) to scrape up any tasty caramelized bits on the bottom of the pan. Let the water cook most of the way off (the onions may still look slightly wet), and transfer to a bowl to cool. The onions may be made up to a day in advance of making the Mujaddara.

For the roasted tomatoes: preheat the oven to 400˚F. Halve the tomatoes, and place in a single layer on a silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil and gently toss with your hands to evenly coat. Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until the tomatoes are slightly wrinkled and reduced in size. Remove from the oven, and set aside to cool. The tomatoes are best roasted on the day that you plan to make the Mujaddara.

Other serving ideas: - top with chicken or steak kabobs for a heartier dinner - top with a fried egg, avocado, and hot sauce for breakfast or brunch (I do this with Mujaddara leftovers) - add roasted or grilled squash or replace the cooked greens with arugula (added just before serving).

(On an unrelated note, can we all agree that my friend Vanessa has the most amazing wine stopper you have ever seen?)

ricotta tartines with peaches, basil, and piment d'espelette

autumn, breads, breakfast, desserts, snacks, summer, sweet, vegetarianFieldandForest2 Comments
ricotta, peach, basil, and piment d'espelette tartine

I don't know about you, but I have jumped hardcore onto the ricotta toast bandwagon. It is SO good! Why is it so good? Why can I not stop myself from eating ricotta toast? Seriously. After I took the above photo, I ate those two tartines, and then I wanted more, so I made two more. And then I ate those. And I am seriously considering toasting up some more bread and making another. Somebody come save me from myself, please! I will repay you with a tartine. And then someone else will probably have to come save you from eating tartines at some point, too, and if the cycle continues, we will have so many people at our place eating tartines, which means at that point we'll just have to have a party.

Which works out, since it's FRIDAY (yay!).

Happy weekend, all!

Ricotta Tartines with Peaches, Basil, and Piment D'Espelette
makes 4 tartines

Why call this a tartine? Tartines are often substantial, open-faced sandwiches, and are frequently eaten with knives and forks. The peaches here are cut into rather thick wedges, and the moisture from the ricotta can make the center of your toast a little soft, so these lack some of the structural integrity needed to lift the bread to your mouth (and are a little tall for you to take a bite directly out of one, anyway) and are best eaten with utensils. Hence, tartines! Shrink these down and make them with toasted baguette slices if you want something that lends itself better to finger food.

4 1/2-inch slices of crusty white bread, such as sourdough or ciabatta (do not use a soft, sandwich bread, as it will get mushy)
olive oil1/2 cup ricotta (whole or part-skim both work well)
1 ripe yellow peach, cut into 12 wedges (quarter the peach, and cut each quarter into thirds)
4 basil leaves sliced into chiffonade (ribbons)
honey, for drizzling (I used Tupelo honey, which I love as it is intensely floral and buttery, plus it never crystalizes) Piment d'Espelette, hot paprika, or a finely crushed dried red chile

Brush the bread with olive oil and toast under the broiler until browned and crispy (this happens quickly, so keep an eye on it as it toasts).

Spread about 2 tablespoons ricotta over each of the toasts. Lay three peach slices over each toast, and distribute the basil evenly among the toasts. Drizzle each tartine with about a teaspoon of honey (or more, if you prefer), and sprinkle with a small pinch of Piment d'Espelette. Serve immediately.

heirloom tomato caprese with late-summer peaches

salads, summer, vegetarianFieldandForestComment
caprese_featured

high uintas wilderness 1 I am having a hard time writing today.  I keep looking at this picture from our trip two weeks ago and wishing I could be outside.  I've been having this kind of mental itch at work whenever I look out the window that somehow I'm doing something wrong since I'm IN HERE and not OUT THERE.  I usually have to walk to another building whenever I have a meeting, and this morning it was all I could do not to detour to the little patch of slanted grass west of my office and take a tiny snooze in the sun.   Lucca has been scratching at the door in the mornings to go outside and lay on the deck where he'll do this twisty stretch on his back and stick his legs out in all directions and fall asleep soaking up the warmth and the light.  I am very happy that he's so happy, but it is awfully hard to walk past someone who looks like that on your way to work and not feel insanely jealous.  Even if that someone is a dog.

When did it become normal for us to sit at desks all day?  When did we start trying to build spaces for ourselves to work that shut us off from nature and light and people?  When did we create tasks for ourselves that mean everything and nothing?  How long do we go between experiencing things that are real and good and make us (really madly truly) happy?  How do we support each other and encourage each other to take a moment each day to breathe and soak in the sun?

When the voices in our heads started shouting those questions too loudly, we packed four people, two dogs, and some climbing gear into our car and drove due East into the Uintas.  It was a spur-of-the-moment trip, and we left later than we would have liked, but we needed trees and air and space.  Lucca was beside himself with happiness when we finally stopped the car and began hiking toward the crag.  He made his big toothy shark face and rolled himself around in the brush and made his drowning cat noises (which are very harsh and grating but also some of my favorite sounds in the world).  We climbed just a little, hiked a lot, camped at the end of a long, unmarked road, ate wild raspberries and burritos and campfire peach and blackberry cobbler, and fell asleep listening to the rain on our tent.

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We're waiting for the next time we can escape, but in the meantime we're celebrating being at home by eating the season and eating well.  Our tomatoes have finally begun to blush purple and red, and the chickens have been so distracted by the goji berry and fat grasshoppers that we've rescued most of the tomatoes before they've been discovered.  We eat them like apples, on sandwiches, or in this salad.

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HEIRLOOM TOMATO AND MOZZARELLA SALAD WITH LATE-SUMMER PEACHES

1-2 pounds of mixed heirloom tomatoes 2-3 large ripe, yellow peaches 2-3 large handfuls mixed greens 1/2 pound mozzarella or burrata cheese, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices olive oil balsamic vinegar flaky salt freshly ground black pepper 8-10 fresh basil leaves, sliced into chiffonade (stack the leaves and then roll them like a cigarette and thinly slice them cross-wise into ribbons)

Have two plates ready for serving individual portions of salad.

Cut the tomatoes into a mixture of wedges and 1/2-inch thick slices and set aside.  Slice the peaches in half and remove the pits.  Cut each half into 4-6 wedges and set aside.

Distribute 1/3 of the tomato wedges and slices on each of the plates, then distribute 1/3 of the peach wedges onto the tomatoes.  Divide the greens evenly between the two plates, covering the tomatoes and peaches.  Scatter the remaining tomato wedges (reserve the tomato slices) and peach wedges over the greens.  Place a tomato slice on each of the salads, then overlap with a slice of mozzarella, repeating until all of the slices have been used.

Drizzle the salad with as much olive oil and balsamic vinegar as you like, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Top with the basil chiffonade and serve immediately.

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