Oh September, how I love you. It’s still bike to the beach weather, but a bowl of steaming soup on the deck afterwards sounds equally amazing. Though I look forward to summer each year, it’s the crisp days of early fall that really have my heart. There are stray leaves in crimson and gold that crunch underfoot when we go for a walk, but not so many yet that weekends are spent raking. As those of you who have been reading Kitchen Beet for awhile know, I’m smitten with soup season, and all food that makes our home smell inviting. I’ve made this soup countless times over the years, tweaking here and there to get to this healthy, delicious version.
I picked up my first basket of Honeycrisp apples and butternut squash from the market earlier this week. They were looking less plentiful than weeks before, but tomatoes and corn were definitely still present. Before they turn in to a farmer’s market endangered species, this salad is a worthy farewell to what has been a memorable summer. I’ve already made tomato sauce, tomato-corn salsa and frozen fresh corn for winter months. I’m now in the moments of just enjoying this summer produce in our daily meals.
This recipe is adapted from Sara Forte’s excellent Sprouted Kitchen Bowl + Spoon. Occasionally you find a cookbook author whose tastes and flavor preferences align so closely with your own, it’s like the recipes were written just for you. I love Sara’s work, and her husband Hugh takes beautiful photographs of her creations. I’m admittedly envious, as I’d love to have someone follow me around in the kitchen and capture images of it all. As it stands, I call everyone for dinner, then pause and turn off the lamps so we only have natural light. “Wait just a minute! I need a few photos!”
I’ve changed several ingredient amounts, swapped a couple of ingredients, added shallots to the dressing and taken a slightly different approach for roasting the tomatoes. I’ve made this multiple times this summer, and it’s a crowd pleaser – the buttermilk dressing and feta have it feeling slightly indulgent, but quinoa and veggies leave you feeling good. It’s excellent next to a piece of wild-caught fish.
From the looks of it, I have one last time to gather basil from my pots outside. This pesto is absolutely, positively its fate. I must admit, basil pesto recipes don’t vary THAT much, so I almost hesitated to put this one out there. But I tested it plenty over the summer, and I believe this is the perfect ratio for excellent flavor, and doesn’t go overboard on the oil or garlic. I use both walnuts and pine nuts, both for flavor purposes, and to make it easier on your wallet. (Where I’m at, pine nuts are still pretty expensive!) I also toast them, which is optional but recommended. This pesto freezes beautifully, and man does it taste good in the middle of winter.
The passage of time continues to amaze me, especially in the thick of summer. Somehow, it’s the middle of July. In the weeks since my last recipe, I’ve been working hard on a fun project for new foodie magazine, Spoonful. I’m incredibly excited about the gathering, recipe and essay I created for this one. (My feature will be published in their spring 2017 issue.) I also spent nearly two weeks in Oregon with my family, exploring Eugene, Bend and Portland, both by hiking and dining at several delightful local places. The trip reaffirmed my desire to travel with our kiddos, and experience places and people outside our normal routine. At home, we’ve been to the beach, biked around town, eaten too much ice cream and frequented the farmer’s market.
I was there this morning, and there were so many people and baskets of local food, it was hard to move from one farmer to the next. It’s a good problem to have – I’m grateful to live in a town with a thriving farmer’s market that is so well supported by the community. I noticed recently-picked kohlrabi from one of my favorite farmers, and it made me want to share this recipe, which is refreshing in a healthy-mojito kind of way.
There are many reasons I write this blog and collect recipes in this space. One of them is my family. As I mentioned in the first “Even My Sisters Can Make It” post, I have four sisters. None of them like to cook quite as much as I do, but I’ve been quite impressed with how many recipes they’ve made from what I’ve posted so far. I also, somewhat weirdly, write this for my kids. I love family traditions and passed down histories. The thought of my children, or even my grandchildren, pulling up this blog to make dinner for themselves or those they love brings me joy. Then, of course, there is my own mother – the one who taught me to make the best tomato sauce that exists and perfect pancakes. She’s the one who made me eat curry when I was little and literally almost always had carrot sticks on the table, no matter what was for dinner. You know what they say – the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I’m now serving my kids up curry, like this favorite one, and forever chopping raw veggies to serve next to our meal.
My mother, who spoils us often with freshly baked bread (another one of her specialties), texted me a couple of days ago. “Any chance you’ll be posting the grilled chicken package recipe soon?” She went on, “(Instagram…)” in case I needed a reminder.