Beets, Tahini, Flatbread + Lentils

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Shannon and Anneke walked in to the kitchen and immediately curled their noses. Bec! You’re stinking up the house. After lifting the lid on the pot, they were even more disgusted. Beets! Gross!

 

An hour later, Shannon at least, was singing a different tune: I love beets! Beets, beets, beets. Let’s eat beets. For months afterwards, the subject of beets made their way into many a conversation, joke, and non-sensical late night roommate Facebook exchange. They even made their way into our school life as Shannon and I sat in our farming class plotting how to make more money than all the other students on our hypothetical farm. Our proposed course of action was growing and selling beets, of course.

 

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I have long since forgotten what sort of meal became of the beets that day when Shannon and Anneke walked in, but I’ve no doubt vegetables took center stage. Anneke, Shannon, and Kaci embraced my fondness for all things vegetable as whole heartedly as any semi-normal 20-something college person could, with only the expected amount of jabbing. My fondness for the full spectrum of produce even made it into Anneke and Kaci’s toast for my wedding.

 

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I’m going ‘home’ in a few days to celebrate family and Christmas and to perform my semi-annual reset in the farmhouse sunroom, where I will take in the dazzling morning light, open spaces, and cows over morning porridge. I’m super excited about a few things, and one of them is having a dinner party with Shannon and our fams. Last time we held a party, I was on a Middle-Eastern-themed-beet-tangent as well, so I made beet hummus and rose-flavored everything. I have come full circle as far as flavor combinations go so these beet flatbreads just might make an appearance. Luckily for me, I will be welcomed in to perfume Shannon’s home with the aroma of roasting beets.

 

Clearly, stinking up our house that winter afternoon was the right thing to do.


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Beets, Flatbread, Tahini + Lentils, serves 4-6
There are many components to this recipe, making it somewhat labor-intensive. All the separate components save the flatbread can be made ahead and then reheated to eat with freshly made flatbread. On a rushed day, use purchased pita-type bread to serve instead. 

Lentils
1 cup lentils
3 cups water
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp. cumin
salt to taste

Roasted Beets
10 medium-size beets, tops and bottoms removed 

Lemon-Tahini Cream
2 Tbs. tahini
1 1/2 Tbs. lemon juice
2-4 Tbs. water (as needed)
1 small garlic clove
Salt and pepper, to taste

Flatbread, adapted from Gluten-Free & Vegan Bread
1 Tbs. chia seeds
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup garbanzo & fava flour
3/4 cup millet flour
1/4 cup amaranth flour
1/2 cup arrowroot starch
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 Tbs. honey
3/4-1 cup warm water

Hazelnuts + Toppings
1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
dash of ground allspice
2 bay leaves
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
1/8 tsp. salt
Dried dill, for sprinkling
Dried rose petals, for sprinkling

  • Bring lentils and water to boil in a medium saucepan. Turn down to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes, until soft. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients. Set aside.
  • Halve or quarter beets. In a large piece of foil, wrap all of the beets and roast in an oven, preheated to 400 degrees F, for 45-60 minutes. Check part way through for doneness, by opening up the foil bundle and stabbing with a fork. The beets should be tender all the way through. When done, remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Then, slice them into smaller pieces.
  • For the Lemon-Tahini Cream, puree all the ingredients in a food processor. Add additional water or lemon juice, to reach the desired taste and consistency.
  • In a small sauté pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add spices and bay leaves and cook until the spices start to smell warm and toasted, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the hazelnuts and salt. Set aside.
  • To make the flatbread, soak the chia seeds in the ½ cup water for at least 15 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the flours, flax seeds, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the oil, honey, ¾ cup warm water and chia-mixture. Stir together and then add this liquid mix to the dry ingredients. Stir until it comes together with a wooden spoon. The dough should be fairly wet, so add more water if needed. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. While the skillet is heating, divide the dough into 8 pieces and roll out each one on a counter, using brown rice flour to keep it from sticking. Each piece should be roughly 6 to 8 inches in diameter. Don’t worry about getting them perfectly symmetrical. As each piece of dough is rolled out, transfer to the skillet and cook on each side for about 4 minutes. Some of the edges will brown and crisp up; this is normal. As each flatbread is done, transfer to a warm oven until they are all cooked.
  • To serve, spread tahini cream onto the flatbread, top with lentils, sliced beets, and hazelnuts. Garnish with rose petals and dill.
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Raw Buckwheat Porridge with Hazelnuts & Rose Water

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Almost a year ago, I wrote about a new beginning, my desire to meet new people, and to connect to place. Having grown up on a ranch where we were seemingly always connected to neighbors who often shared their honey, lamb, fruit, or eggs while we returned the favor with armfuls of zucchini, beef, and cookies(!), it is natural for me to connect to a place through its food and farmers. Food is precious, unique to place, and meant to be celebrated as such. I’d like for us all to return to that mantra, in whatever way we can best make it so.

 

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I have high aspirations to grow my own, get to know my farmers, and to share the abundance. The truth is though, I live in a tiny dark apartment under a canopy of giant oak trees. It is shady and I haven’t even been able to successfully grow herbs in the windowsill. I have a community garden plot full of packed clay soil, but at least it’s growing something. (Lots of things, actually!) I’m working on it.

 

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Because life also has room for trade, trying flavors from afar, and celebrating with foods that just won’t grow nearby, I have been finding ways to integrate local flavors into even the most international of themes. It is a balance and I’m still fine-tuning. Mostly though, I’m excited that the Willamette Valley is seeing a resurgence in local grains and pulses–and millers!

 

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Though there are dreams aplenty ’round these parts, I’m holding out for a larger piece of land for my buckwheat and oat plot. In the meantime, I’m excited to be trying out a couple different varieties of “dry beans” in the garden. There is more to eating locally these days than fruits and vegetables–and that is exciting!

How do you connect to your community?

 

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This porridge is raw, Middle-Eastern and June-inspired, and features edible flowers as part of this month’s Recipe Redux theme. There are roses blooming now and the weather has been continuously summer-like. Buckwheat is gluten-free, nutritious, locally grown and processed here (albeit still somewhat seasonally available), and super quick to blitz up on an early summer morning when there is a desire for nutritious, filling, and uncooked.

There are local hazelnuts and honey too, along with rose petals that can be gathered and dried. All together, I’ve gathered the makings of a quick, super delicious breakfast. Top with the berries of the season: Here, we are right at the beginning of blueberries.

 

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Raw Buckwheat Porridge with Hazelnuts and Rose Water
Serves 2–3
 
3/4 cup raw buckwheat groats, soaked overnight 
1 1/2 tsp. rose water
1/2- 3/4 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 Tbs. raw honey
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
blueberries, by the handful 
dried rose petals, to taste 
  • Drain soaked buckwheat and pour into a food processor.  Pulse a few times until the grains are starting to break apart.
  • Measure in the rose water, cardamom to taste, vanilla, and honey. Puree until smooth.
  • Pour out into your container of choice and top with hazelnuts, berries, and rose petals. Enjoy!