early autumn collard wraps with beet hummus, orange quinoa salad + apple slices

early autumn collard wraps with beet hummus, orange quinoa salad + apple slices

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I cooked my first winter squash this week, a delicata from the garden. I added it into the lovely split pea, rhubarb and apple soup from Vegetarian Everyday/Green Kitchen Stories. I sipped a rendition of Izy’s autumn-spiced coffee, planted purple sprouting broccoli for a late winter/early spring harvest, and kicked the heat on to a measly 62 degrees in the house. It ran almost all day while I wore my down vest and a blanket and powered through week four of term three–grad school life; the workload is intense; it calls for blankets and my first coffee in well over a year–and yet I love it. I’ve scheduled myself to take one-two days off from the material right now and I still wake up on those mornings ready to dive back in.

 

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It’s safe to say  summer is well on its way out. Ever the seasonal sleeper, I’m waking much later in the mornings. And catching up on processing my recent transition out of school garden education. I also began writing in more detail about my experience with running, eating disorder recovery, faith, and mental health in general–topics that might be a little too intense here. If you first came to this blog for those posts, feel free to read more on my new blog. Otherwise, below are a sampling of the many short and longer reading I’ve enjoyed these past months, a couple podcast episodes I feel are worth sharing, and a few seasonal meals we’ve been enjoying.

 

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Reading
How to Build an Empire
The Salkantay Trek to Machu Piccho: perspective +  privilege

David has been cooking with and sharing/photodocumenting the stories of Syrian refugees in Turkey this last week. It is a beautiful experience, important to share, and I think relates a lot to the point made by Ashlae, above.

Why I haven’t weighed myself in 2 1/2 years
The Starvation Study that Changed the World, I’m still reflecting on these last two but they are both well worth reading in terms of body image, eating, and/or weight struggles.


Longer Reading
Food and Healing by Annemarie Colbin. I just finished. I loved it.


Listening to
Up Your Game
How to Cultivate Non-Judgment
Andrew Wheating on Strengthening Your Winning Muscle (I’ve listened to this on repeat for weeks!)


Seasonal Eating–
Basically, I only want to eat Moroccan or Middle Eastern flavors and/or eggplants so we’ve been enjoying these:
Moroccan Eggplant Mini-Galettes with Chickpeas + Harissa
Moroccan Tagine with Sweet Potatoes + Beets
Roasted Vegetable Pizza
Eggplant & Olive Caponata
We also enjoyed the Eggplant Meatballs from Love & Lemon’s new cookbook at a friend’s last weekend. They were delicious.
And I’m eating all the pears from my favorite pear farmer and these Chai-Spiced Pear Oats, daily.

 

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early autumn collard wraps with beet hummus, orange quinoa salad + apples, makes 4
Every once in a while I get a craving for collard wraps, always with beets and a grain salad of sorts and perhaps some fruit. Wrapped up tight, they make for a delicious and nourishing lunch. This version is inspired by a recipe in Vegetarian Everyday with my own beet hummus (still delicious and addicting), thinly sliced crunchy apples, and locally grown chickpeas. 

1-2 batches Beet Hummus
1 cup quinoa
1 tsp. fennel seeds
zest and juice of 1/2 an orange
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup toasted, chopped walnuts
2-3 spring onions or baby leeks, thinly sliced
2-4 Tbs. minced parsley
sea salt, to taste
2 cups cooked chickpeas
8 large collard green leaves
3-4 small apples, thinly sliced

  • To make the quinoa salad, bring 2 cups water and quinoa to a boil in a small pot. Add the fennel seeds, turn down to a simmer, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  • Add orange juice and zest, raisins, walnuts, leeks or spring onions, parsley and salt to the quinoa.
  • To assemble the wraps, trim the base of the stem off the collard leaves and take a serrated knife and thinly shave down the remaining stem, getting it to the same thickness as the rest of the leaf. Then soften the leaves by either drenching in warm water briefly or heating in the microwave for a few seconds.
  • For each wrap, arrange two collard leaves head to foot, overlapping them halfway. Spread a generous amount of beet hummus, then quinoa salad, garbanzos, and finally a few apple slices in the center. Fold over each end, tuck one side under, and roll tightly like a burrito. If it’s in danger of coming apart, use a few toothpicks to hold it together, and slice in half.
  • Continue as above to create the remaining three wraps. There should be apple slices leftover which are great eaten on the side.

Moroccan Tagine with Sweet Potatoes + Beets, food for runners (or this runner)

Moroccan Tagine with Sweet Potatoes + Beets, food for runners (or this runner)

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There is nothing like a few days spent living with others to put into perspective how truly personal is our choice in food. While I will happily eat roasted broccoli or leftover kale salad for 9am snack (and frequently do), even the idea of kale salad at a seemingly more appropriate time of day might leave others running for the door.

 

 

This point is driven home in my frequent conversations about food with others. My work at the university has often left me chatting about the differences between foods here in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world–how everything is just sooo sweet–and how diets inherently change even without the individual really attempting to when taking up residence here.

 

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In sharing this recipe, I’ll make a point in saying first that I question the title and definitely the authenticity as I’ve never been to Morocco and have only eaten at one semi-Moroccan restaurant. And yet I love the flavors of “Moroccan” foods, particularly the tagines with sweet, savory, and spicy notes. So I’ll take liberty and call this my own version of a Moroccan tagine.

Second, I can see some camps loving this and others, again, running for the door because whoa, there are tooo many vegetables and don’t get me started on Rebecca’s fondness for spices.

 

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But basically I call this the type of food that I like to eat to fuel my running life. Or more adequately, it is the food I tend to crave before a big run or race. So when William and others were packing sandwiches for our relay race a few weeks back, I found myself making and then eating Moroccan sweet potato + beet tagine with quinoa to fuel my runs and turning to it again a few more times throughout the ensuing weeks.

It is also a recipe I know I will adapt and make further into the fall season and the months (and miles) to come.

 

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Moroccan Sweet Potato + Beet Tagine, serves 6-8
Inspired by Vegetarian Everyday

Though I tend to use a heavy hand with the harissa, I haven’t yet purchased or made one that has been nearly as spicy as the kind I’ve had in a restaurant–and its flavor tends to get muted by all the sweet notes of the apricots and currants. Use more or less, or even leave out, as you see fit.

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 inches fresh raw ginger, finely grated
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
1  1/2 teaspoons cumin
sea salt, to taste
2 tablespoons harissa
4-5 large tomatoes, diced
zest and juice of one lemon
3-4 beets, sliced into 2 inch pieces
1 medium eggplant, sliced into large pieces
1 medium zucchini, sliced into 2-inch pieces
2 medium sweet potatoes, sliced into 2-inch pieces
10 dried apricots, each sliced into about six pieces
2 cups cooked garbanzo beans
1/4 cup currants
thinly sliced fresh mint, to serve
cooked millet, quinoa, brown rice or other, to serve

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onion for a few minutes until it becomes soft and translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and the spices and allow to cook for about 30 seconds more.
  2. Stir in the harissa, diced tomatoes, lemon zest and juice. Bring the sauce to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer.
  3. Add the beets, eggplant, zucchini, sweet potatoes, and apricots. Stir well so everything is nice and mixed, then cover and simmer for about an hour. Keep it covered as much as possible, but stir a couple times throughout the hour.
  4. Once the vegetables are tender all the way through, add in the cooked beans and currants, cook for about 5 minutes more to heat through, and then season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
  5. Serve over cooked millet or other grain with a garnish of sliced mint on top.

summer quinoa salad with zucchini, eggplant, green beans + tomatoes

summer quinoa salad with zucchini, eggplant, green beans + tomatoes

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Even though I am no longer a teacher, there is something about the beginning of the school year that gets me excited for a fresh start, eager minds, clean hallways, and a newly decorated classroom. And so it was when I walked the hallways of the elementary school I work with this last week. Even though I’ve been there all summer with my high school students managing the school garden, the teachers are back now and the place is slowly coming to life after its summer slumber. There are fresh new beginnings in the air.

At the same time, the internship I created for my students ended this week, and so marks the last time I will work with this particular summer program, as I too am beginning to close the chapter of my work in school garden education. It has been a journey and a learning experience, and I can say on the other end of three+ years, I’m glad I trusted my intuition in taking the risky position that is my job, as it didn’t start out being financially sustainable and there was much jostling back and forth with funding cuts and uncertainty in the in-between. And so it’s kind of ironic that now on the other side, I am choosing to walk away from the work not having the future months figured out, but with an awareness that I won’t know what comes next until I take this step.

Beyond all learning and experience I have gained from the actual work, maybe the biggest lesson I have learned since stepping in to the “real world” of work, is how to trust that feeling of needing to close the book and walk away, even as it has been enjoyable, safe, comfortable, and I’ve been part of an amazing and cohesive team.

 

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With all this in mind, I think it is fitting to share a recipe here that was first schemed up in the school garden surrounded by all the vegetables we were harvesting that day and adapted in the moment according to my students’ preferences. Each week of the summer, they have been cooking in the garden one afternoon and providing samples to their CSA customers utilizing whatever produce is in abundance that week. In this late summer season, everything is going full throttle and so this salad has a little of everything. There are random little pops of sweet like ground cherries balancing the creamy leeks and crunchy beans. There were a few hazelnuts leftover from another week that provided more texture, directly opposite of the squishier quality of the eggplant and zucchini. And there was a lemon in the fridge that needed to be used and from it, we all enjoyed the lemon-Dijon dressing. All in all, this became a showcase of all the summer vegetables and everyone that tried it–whether high school student or adult–loved it.

 

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summer quinoa salad with zucchini, eggplant, green beans + tomatoes, serves 4

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

extra virgin olive oil

2 small leeks, thinly sliced

1 lb. green beans, sliced into 1-inch pieces

1 small zucchini, chopped into 1-inch pieces

1 cup ground cherries

1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped or halved

Dressing:
2 tsp. Dijon mustard, preferably coarse grained

2 tsp. honey

juice from ½ a large lemon

2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar

2 Tbs. olive oil

sea salt & black pepper

  1. In a medium saucepan, add quinoa and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil and then cover and turn down to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a large sauté pan on medium-high heat, add a splash of olive oil, a generous pinch of salt and the leeks. Cook, stirring regularly until leeks are golden and crispy, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. At this point, stir in the summer squash. Cook for a few more minutes and then add the green beans. Cook a bit longer – just until the beans brighten up and lose their raw bite and the squash softens.
  4. Turn out into a bowl and stir in the ground cherries, tomatoes, raisins, hazelnuts, and cooked quinoa.
  5. Make the dressing by whisking together the mustard and honey. Add lemon juice, vinegar, and oil and whisk for about 30 seconds. Add salt and pepper according to taste.
  6. Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients and stir until everything is well mixed.