FIELD & FOREST

pistachios

mixed citrus salad with champagne vinaigrette and pistachios

dinner, lunch, salads, vegetarian, winter, veganRachel SandersComment
(Yeah, not a photo of SLC in January... but more depictive of how I feel today than the dreary/smoggy/old-snow reality!)

(Yeah, not a photo of SLC in January... but more depictive of how I feel today than the dreary/smoggy/old-snow reality!)

I woke up this morning before everyone else (ish, Lucca woke up when I moved in bed and sneezed in my face before falling back asleep... Happy New Year!) and got up and walked into a clean kitchen and had this weird sense of deja-vu and warm fuzzies that I remember feeling when we put our first set of matching dishes into our cabinets shortly after we got married, where I would frequently open the cabinets and stand with my hands on my hips and look at the neat stacks of plates and bowls and think "this is very nice."

There is something so welcoming and calm about a clean kitchen in the morning. Richard and I hosted friends for dinner two nights in a row this past week, and in spite of the late evenings and multiple dishes, we've made a considerable effort to not leave anything to clean up the morning after (major props to Richard for pulling some serious dish-washing weight, and also for convincing me months ago that a mechanical dishwasher was a worthy investment - holy cow, was he right). And so instead of waking up in a post-gathering malaise and having to do more dishes first thing in the morning, we wake up, walk into a sparkling kitchen, make coffee, read, listen to podcasts, and then get to work/projects/Lucca-wearing-out. It has been lovely.

I realize the Gregorian calendar is a human construct and in geological time, the world doesn't really give two figs whether it is 2016 or 2017, but there is something that feels similarly fresh and new when we move from one year to the next. It is like shedding a skin or the feeling you get when you brush your teeth after eating corn-on-the-cob. An "oooh yes, I needed that, now I can get on with things" kind of feeling.

There were some very high highs and some rather low lows this year. I cannot lie and say that I'm looking at 2017 without some considerable concern for our country and our planet. I don't think that you can have a food blog or think/write/talk about food without considering greater issues at hand. I think about Syria each time I use Aleppo pepper flakes. I wonder about the speed/progression of climate change when I buy avocados at the grocery store. I consider the connections between some synthetic pesticides and Parkinson's disease, which afflicted my grandmother later in life, when I look at the costs of conventionally grown v. organically grown cane sugar. I think I look very frowny when I go food shopping. What can I say! I have a lot of serious thoughts in the grocery store.

But I also like to think that when we grab the minty-fresh feelings of a new year by the nads, we can make active, if often small, changes that create larger positive ripple effects throughout the next twelve months of our lives. Maybe this is the year you start calling your parents on a regular basis. Maybe this is the year you buy an electric car or take public transportation twice (or more!) a week. Maybe this is the year that you make the lunches you bring to work, instead of getting takeout all of the time. Maybe this is the year that you eat less meat, but get the sustainably and humanely raised (and super delicious) stuff whenever possible. Maybe this is the year that you volunteer for a cause you care about deeply, or donate money to help people in crisis far away. Maybe you start making choco-tacos and giving them to strangers, because you can! I don't know. But I bet there's something you've considered doing and ended up thinking, "eh, I'll do it later," or "maybe next year." Do it now!

I have some larger "I want to do this thing this year" thoughts for another post, but right now I'm working on being more brave. I want to stand up for people and things that I care about more. I want to take more risks, both personally and professionally. I want to act out of joy instead of fear whenever possible. Maybe you're good at this and you're thinking "well, that's not so hard." That is awesome for you! It is hard for me. I am working on it. I am not perfect. I'll probably fail a number of times, but at least I'm giving it a go. Maybe you'll forget your homemade lunch at home and break your lunch-bringing streak with some In-n-Out. It's cool. Hop back on the homemade lunch horse the next day. We're all human and we're all trying.

And now we come to the point of the post where I try to transition larger thoughts into a recipe and today I'm drawing a blank. Blah. Oh well! There's a salad here that is juicy and quenching and colorful and probably what your bod wants after a month of cookies and cakes and latkes and roasted meats and gravy and candy canes. It's easily scaled, so keep in mind that I would happily eat this recipe in its entirety before you choose your number of citrus units. Otherwise, it probably feeds 2-3 if you have other stuff happening on the side (photo context clues: like bread).

Much love in 2017 (and always). 💕

caracaranavelbloodorangesalad.jpg

makes enough salad for 1 Rachel or 2-3 normal people

Cut the citrus into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Place rounds onto a plate or serving dish, alternating the types of citrus if you wish. Set aside.

Place the red onion into a medium bowl, and add a few splashes of champagne vinegar to just barely cover the onion. Add a pinch of salt and miix briefly, then let sit for 5-10 minutes to marinate. Whisk in a small glug (a tablespoon-ish) of olive oil, and taste the dressing with a leaf or arugula or spinach. (I like my dressing slightly bright because the citrus can be sweet, but add more olive oil if you prefer your dressing to be more mellow).

Add the arugula and/or spinach to the bowl, and gently toss with your hands to coat the leaves with the dressing. Arrange the leaves over the citrus rounds so that you can still see citrus peeking out around the edge of your serving dish. Give it a quick twist or two of black pepper (not too much, please) sprinkle with the pistachios and serve immediately.

A 3-unit mix of citrus (I used a cara-cara orange, a navel orange, and a blood orange), peeled
a scant 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
champagne (or white balsamic) vinegar
kosher salt
olive oil
2 handfuls of arugula or spinach
, or a mixture of both
black pepper
roasted pistachios (alternately, roasted almonds) coarsely chopped

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?)

beet, carrot, and kale salad with pistachios and feta

salads, spring, summer, vegetarian, winterFieldandForestComment
carrot_salad_3

My parents are notorious among friends and family for their fierce hatred of beets.  There was an incident many years before I was born involving a cabin, a power outage, beets, and food poisoning, that I believe has festered and expanded into almost a PTSD-level association where the mention of them incites physical shuddering*.

Oh wow, I just thought of the best April Fool's Day joke... I am going to give my dad a copy of Harry Potter, but I'm going to cross out each place that says "Voldemort" and instead write-in "beets."  HA.

Because I trusted my parents' judgement, I thought that I, too, was a beet hater, just like I thought I was a democrat (which turned out to be true) and I was scared of roller coasters (which turned out to be false-ish).  I don't actually remember my first beet, but somewhere in college, I must have ventured out of my comfort zone and given them a try, because I have spent many meals since then trying to make up for lost time.  Beets are freaking amazing.

This salad is a favorite winter-into-spring-into-summer recipe, and is great for when you want your meal to be vegetables, but you want vegetables to be a MEAL.  You will not feel hungry after you finish this salad, though if you're worried, you could always do what I do and make the entire recipe for just yourself.

Beet, Carrot, and Kale Salad with Pistachios and Feta
(serves 1-2 for dinner, or 3-4 as a side salad)

3 large beets, roasted, peeled, and cut into 1-inch dice (see note on roasting beets below)
1 pound carrots, peeled and roasted (I had baby Paris Market carrots on hand; you can use unpeeled young carrots, simply scrub them well before roasting)
1 bunch purple (or other) kale
1/2 cup parsley leaves
1/2 cup pistachios, chopped, divided
1/4 pound sheep's milk feta, divided

For the dressing:
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, finely minced 1 teaspoon kosher salt
A few grinds of black pepper
A few good glugs of olive oil (2-4 tablespoons; I usually err on the side of less, and use just enough to create a dressing with a little body that is still nicely bright from the acid).

Make the dressing in the bottom of the bowl you'll use for the finished salad.  Combine the lemon juice and red wine vinegar, and add the garlic clove, salt, and pepper.  Let it hang out for a moment while the salt dissolves and the acid tempers the garlic slightly (this is a great time to pick the parsley leaves off of their stems or chop the pistachios if you haven't already, OR you can watch this if everything's prepped and ready to go).  Whisk the oil into the acid mixture to emulsify, and taste using a bit of a kale leaf.  Adjust seasoning as necessary, and set aside.

Rinse the kale leaves well, and towel dry.  Lay a leaf flat on a cutting surface, and slice out the stem (you can save the stems for soup, or give them to some soon-to-be-happy chickens).  Repeat with the rest of the kale leaves.  Once all of the stems have been removed, stack the leaves on top of each other and roll them up lengthwise.  Slice (chiffonade) them into 1/4-1/2 inch thick "ribbons" (depending on your kale, you may get pieces of different sizes in your finished salad, which I think is lovely). Run your knife through the ribbons once or twice if you prefer smaller pieces of kale.

Place the kale in your salad bowl, and add the carrots, beets, and parsley leaves.  Toss the salad gently with your hands until everything is evenly coated with dressing.  Crumble 2/3 of your feta over the salad, and sprinkle over 2/3 of your pistachios.  Toss again gently.  Crumble the remaining feta over the salad, and sprinkle on the remaining pistachios.  Serve immediately.

*UPDATE: so, after speaking with my parents, I learned that the cabin/power outage/food poisoning combo was related to CLAMS not BEETS.  The beet hatred, to quote my father, "is genetic."