Spanish Salad with Hazelnut + Paprika Dressing

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In the last couple weeks, I’ve had a strong inclination to be more mindful when shopping for food and to put more emphasis on supporting local growers, producers, and processors. Part of this, I think, stems from the recent fires here in the west, and several conversations about a warming climate and how we will have to adapt some of our food and/or growing conditions now and on into the future. I count myself very fortunate to live in an area of the world that is rich in agricultural and ecological diversity, and one in where a strong local food scene is thriving, but I also know the many hands that go into supporting the kind of community I want to live in, and how much consistent work it takes to advocate for a local food system–as well as the flip side of how we rely so much on the status quo with generally no thought to what will happen if… natural disaster, climate change, soil degradation and nutrient depletion, loss of community due to choosing mass-market businesses, etc.

 

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On this topic I’m inspired lately by Andrea’s plan for a locally grown September, and her invitation for others to share in a similar challenge, which I’m structuring in my own way. If you’ve been reading long, or read back into the archives, you’ll know that for me, developing a connection to what is produced locally and in relationship with the producers in my community kick-started and supported me out of my disordered relationship to eating many years ago, and it’s this connection to place and community through food that always assists me when I begin to fall even a little back into old habits.

This salad came about because of my refocus on mindful consuming, using what I have grown and what’s produced nearby, while at the same time taking inspiration from Sara Forte’s Spanish chopped salad in her Bowl + Spoon cookbook.

Before I get there though, this article shares some of the conversations in California (and likely elsewhere) about long-term crop planning and climate change.

And this article, in which I’m interviewed, speaks a little to the impact of our dietary choices on our environment.

Enjoy, or just enjoy this salad. It’s a good one!

 

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Hazelnut + Paprika Spanish Salad
1 small bunch kale, chopped
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
3-4 cups arugula, torn into small pieces
2-3 green onions, finely diced
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 small, diced apple
1-2 medium cucumbers, diced
1/2 cup cooked lentils
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped
2-4 Tbs. parsley, minced

Hazelnut + Paprika Vinaigrette
1 clove garlic
3 Tbs. sherry or wine vinegar
3 Tbs. toasted hazelnuts
3/4 tsp. smoked paprika
2 tsp. honey
2 Tbs. parsley, minced
3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1-2 Tbs. water, to reach desired consistency

  • Blend the vinaigrette ingredients until smooth in a food processor or blender. Add a little water at the end to thin, as necessary.
  • Combine the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle atop 2/3 to 3/4 of the vinaigrette and toss to coat. Add a little more until you’ve reached your desired dressing level.
  • Serve immediately, while nice and fresh!
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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.

and Flying

and Flying

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I’ve finally accepted I don’t handle big, celebratory life events like most people. So I wasn’t jumping up and down excited the day we got the keys to our new house. Actually, I was wishing it would go away, the moving, the moving-on from the town that is home and the many special places there that I consider mine. My high school students asked my age the other day, and when we started talking about it, I shared how I won’t consider myself “grown up” until I reach 30. They laughed at me but were also surprised because as teenagers eager for freedom, they think becoming grown up happens at the exact turn of the clock to 18.  Moving on from Corvallis means much to me for so many reasons, but at the bottom of it, it is the place where I’ve done all my formative growing up, where I belong to and am invested in the community, where my work is, and many individuals have shaped my life perspective.

William’s grandma accused me of not being very happy about the new house over the Christmas holiday. I explained it away with, I’ve only been in it once so it’s a little difficult to love yet, but I was well aware my lack of enthusiasm went deeper. Since then, many people have asked me if I love it and I can tell by their tone of voice that my honest response will burst all their happy-for-us excitement. Ultimately, loving a place (or person) comes from deeply knowing it, and this little space and I are only just getting acquainted. So no, I do not love it yet. But knowing we were eventually moving, I prayed about it for a long time. Finally, just a few days before William brought up the idea of purchasing instead of renting, I felt the peace with relocating that I had been asking for. Later, a couple days before we got the keys, I felt very strongly that there is work for me to be done in this new place, that He is calling us to Eugene for a reason, that it is okay to have little clarity right now.

 

 

A week and a half in to being a Eugene resident, I told William, I’ve skipped straight to the angry stage of culture shock with this town. I prefer a community a little smaller, a little less busy at 5:57 am, a little friendlier to my idea of getting across town, a few less barking dogs in our neighborhood, and many more cats(!). I was complaining, irritated, and aware of it. In other words, I was adjusting.

I have still to figure out which will be “my” grocery store, where I will enjoy running on a regular basis, how to take all the quiet(er) little shortcuts to where I am going. And I’ll have to meet and make some new local friends.

Corvallis taught me these things take time. But even though I’ve felt a little upended this last month since moving, I’m diving in to learning this community in the ways I tend to, with running and with food:

 

 

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A couple weeks into the relocation, I was out running out at the edge of Alton Baker Park, near where the river gets a little wild and Eugene becomes Springfield. I remembered being on my pony, Angel, back at the ranch, about a mile from the house, on the road between the creek and the calving shed. I was around nine years old.

I remember leaning forward over Angel’s neck, letting the reins out, the hairs of her long mane tangling into mine, and feeling her fly, as fast as her legs could carry her. And I remembered that wild, heady freedom that a nine-year-old feels, completely absorbed in that moment, no fear, no coulds, shoulds, if-thens, but just there, all there in that rush, that moment, going as fast as we could go.

I relived that memory a moment and then I turned to run back towards home and my car, and my nine-year-old self and Angel faded behind me.

 

Back at that exact same spot a couple weeks later, the memory came back, just the same as before, unexpectedly, as if waiting for me. And then I connected the dots. So that’s why I’ve been running all these years, I thought. That’s why I love running fast especially. Perhaps I’ve been searching for that part of me I experienced with Angel all those years ago, that wild, carefree little girl who wasn’t afraid to go all out and live.

 

And then I smiled. This little city and I will get along just fine, I thought. There will undoubtedly be some growing pains, and I do miss the comforts of home in Corvallis, but I can tell there will be good things for me here.

 

So when friends ask, do I love the new house? my answer will likely continue to be hesitant. I don’t know that I will ever love the house, as I’ve never grown too attached to a building before. But I do get especially attached to places. And I’d like to tell them, in time, that I absolutely love this new place.

 

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Broccoli, Collards + Kalamata Salad, serves 4-6

inspired by Sara’s Emerald Salad

William is on a broccoli kick lately. He asks for broccoli in everything. I had no idea he is partial to this vegetable until now, but glad I am because our school-garden-broccoli was such a success last year and I’m now planning on upping my broccoli-growing game in our new home garden this spring. Planning has already begun!

2 lbs. broccoli

1 large red onion

3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

zest of 1 orange

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground black pepper

3-5 cups collard greens (or other winter greens), thinly sliced

red pepper flakes

3 Tbs. orange juice

1 small handful flat-leaf parsley

¼ cup kalamata olives, sliced

¼ cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped

 

– Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

– Chop the broccoli into 2-inch pieces; include the stems but discard the large, tough ends. Roughly chop the onion into large pieces. On a large bar pan lined with parchment paper, mix the broccoli pieces, onions, 2 Tbs. olive oil, orange zest, garlic, salt, and pepper. Once all the vegetables are nicely coated, roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the broccoli is starting to brown on top. Rotate the pan or stir halfway through.

– While the vegetables are roasting, remove the tough center stem and thinly slice the collards. Put them in a large mixing bowl. When the vegetables are roasted, pour them atop the collards to soften slightly and give the mix a good stir. Add the orange juice, pepper flakes, remaining tablespoon, if necessary, and toss with olives, parsley, and hazelnuts.

– Serve warm or chilled.