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mango salad with rhubarb ginger dressing + chili almonds

mango salad with rhubarb ginger dressing + chili almonds // the first messmango salad with rhubarb ginger dressing + chili almonds // the first messrhubarb // the first messmangoes // the first mess
It is surprisingly hard to make a house feel like a home. I’ve been cooking more and actually using our kitchen, which has been helpful. We inadvertently had our first dinner guest last weekend–a friend of both of ours that I ran into while frantically trying to make it into a Starbucks for the last 10 minutes of Frappuccino happy hour (TM) (I know, I’m bad to the bone). We had plans for curry and there was a fresh case of beer in the fridge, so it was one of those last minute “Why not?” kind of things that feels easy to say yes to in the waning hours of a sunny weekend afternoon. I think setting a pace and mindset to have our people over for meals more often is what’s going to tip this living situation into certified home-dwelling territory.

So with that, my family’s coming by this weekend for a little dinner. I’m excited to make them a bunch of things I know they’ll love. There’ll be chocolate cream pie, some kind of panzanella, lots of vegetables, salt and vinegar grilled potatoes–all the good things really. My mum is here all the time helping me with any given project, so it’ll be nice to see her just sitting and relaxing at my table with a plate of food for once–and most especially on that pie. For a Mother’s Day thing, it’s great in the obvious ways, but I want to be doing this sort of gathering ’round more often. I’ve wrote here about how tough and motivated my mum is before, but in this noticeably busier season of life, her strength and inner drive has been particularly inspiring. Where I tend to get overwhelmed and start wondering what the point of it all really is, she pushes on, reminding me of the good graces in our day-to-day all the while.

So yeah! Looking forward to that lovely meal with my fingers crossed that the sun will shine. I’ve been craving fruit and having it with almost every meal lately. Maybe it’s those warmer temperatures? So this salad sprang to my mind. One of the better crumbles I’ve ever made featured a combination of rhubarb and mango (with coconut in the topping). It was great because the mango is a natural sweet answer to the sour, but it also has a fragrant, nectarous vibe that meshes seamlessly with rhubarb. So I was thinking of that and some other flavours I like with rhubarb–lime, ginger, almond etc–and thought that a mango salad with all of that going on might be just right. A few slices of kale, radish, mint and chives (from a newly transplanted beauty of a plant in my backyard, weee!) push this salad a little bit more into savoury land. Anyway, hoping this bowl full will make you think twice on that old strawberry and rhubarb routine :)

mango // the first messchives, rhubarb ginger dressing, mango peels // the first messat home // the first messmango salad with rhubarb ginger dressing + chili almonds // the first mess
mango salad with rhubarb ginger dressing + chili almonds
serves: 4-6
notes: I know mango salads typically call for more of the greener/less ripe fruits, but I find sweetness is preferable on this one because of the sour dressing. So having said that, be careful cutting those slippery, somewhat ripe mangoes :)

rhubarb ginger dressing:
1/2 tbsp coconut oil
1 cup chopped rhubarb, pink parts only
1/2 inch of fresh ginger, peeled + chopped
juice of 1 lime (+ a tiny bit of the zest/peel)
1-2 tsp maple syrup/agave nectar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt + pepper

chili almonds:
1/2 cup raw almonds
1 tsp chili powder (chipotle, ancho, whatever you’re into)

salad ingredients:
4 just-ripe mangos, peeled (I used ataulfo/champagne mangos)
5-6 leaves of kale, shredded/finely sliced
handful of chives, sliced
handful of mint leaves, sliced
1 large or 3 small radishes, thinly sliced

Heat the coconut oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the rhubarb to the pan and toss it around a bit. Slowly sauté the rhubarb until it’s quite soft and cooked through. Transfer to a blender pitcher. Throw the ginger, lime juice/zest, maple syrup, olive oil, salt and pepper into the blender as well. Blend the mixture until you have a smooth, thick dressing. Taste it and check for seasoning, adjust if necessary, and set aside.

Toast the almonds in a dry pan over medium heat. Once they have a bit of colour and aroma happening, quickly dump them onto a cutting board and chop them up while they’re still warm. Once chopped, quickly toss them with the chili powder and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

Cut the mangos away from their pits and then proceed to slice them/cut the edible fruit into matchsticks. Toss the cut mango into a large bowl. To the bowl, also add the a sliced kale, chives, mint and sliced radishes. Pour the rhubarb ginger dressing over top and toss it all together. Garnish the salad with the chili almonds and serve.

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Giada08/05/2014 - 4:50 am

This really calls my name! I love mango and I’m all about fruit lately so I’ll give it a try for sure, thanks for sharing! Also, good luck with your family dinner!

Katie @ Whole Nourishment08/05/2014 - 5:40 am

This rhubarb-ginger dressing is a fantastic idea, and I can picture how the mango, chili almond, and rhubarb flavors come together in this salad. Agreed, having friends and family over for dinners makes the house feel more like a loved and lived-in home.

Elizabetheats08/05/2014 - 7:36 am

woah. buying mangos asap!!

Emi Kirschner08/05/2014 - 8:28 am

Wow! This looks just amazing. I can taste it already. Your recipes are wonderfully inspiring.

Sini | my blue&white kitchen08/05/2014 - 8:38 am

It really is a challenge to make a house or an apartment feel like home but like you, I think the answer really is through making food and having friends and family gathering for dinner. Maybe it’s really about filling the home with memories. With moments. Moments of joy and happiness, laughter.

This mango salad is stunning! Never would I have come up with an idea like this myself but, as I imagine the flavors in my head, they make a wonderful, harmonious flavor combination. As soon as I stumble upon perfectly ripe mangos (not always that easy here in Finland), I’ll remember this recipe, whip up a salad, and create lovely memories.

Lauren S08/05/2014 - 8:52 am

this sounds deliciously gorgeous ! will be giving this a try out. love healthy recipes, i have a few on my blog too :)
Lauren x

The naked fig08/05/2014 - 8:59 am

This looks so delicious. Never would have thought to combine mango and rhubarb but I bet they’re perfect together!

Olivia | Olive Oil Sweet Pea08/05/2014 - 9:00 am

This looks like an amazing meal! Loving the way your use rhubarb in the dressing, such a thoughtful recipe! Thanks for keeping the inspiration coming, always a treat to see what you are throwing together.

molly yeh08/05/2014 - 9:01 am

i love how colorful your food always is!!!! and a dinner party with panzanella?! can i come? pleeeeeeze?

Ashley08/05/2014 - 9:12 am

Completely + 100% can relate about “a house becoming a home.” It really didn’t happen for us until we finally had furniture on our main floor. It’s the first time we’ve really gotten furniture that we LOVE and feels like US and it was so worth it. I would say it feels like 85% a home. I think organization is a big key to it as well. My office feels sort of haphazard still with not the best storage/filing system and a giant dog cage. Also, hanging things on the walls! We have yet to do this, I think because like the furniture we want it to be more thought out this time around. Anyway, it’s more than good enough for now and feels all cozy and cute and we love it. Two more things: I want to come hang out with you + your mom. And, rhubarb + mango!!!! Brilliant! xo

lynsey08/05/2014 - 9:13 am

I must have channeled you this week as I was feeling the rhubarb/ginger thing but only in scone form with a hint of orange and lots of oats. Agree with Molly… the colours are amazing. xo

Erika08/05/2014 - 9:21 am

This is just so lovely.. I am in love with that rhubarb ginger dressing:.

Amy @ Parsley In My Teeth08/05/2014 - 9:34 am

I think the combination of mango, ginger, coconut and rhubarb sounds amazing. Very creative! Can’t wait to give it a try.

Molly O08/05/2014 - 12:14 pm

Wondering if the dressing would work with green rhubarb? It’s all I have at the moment but the flavor combo sounds really intriguing.

Mila08/05/2014 - 12:42 pm

Wow what an awesome combo! I’ve been looking for new ways to use rhubarb- thanks!

Hannah08/05/2014 - 1:15 pm

Mmmm I cannot wait to make this. I’m totally obsessed mango at the moment and in love with ottolenghis (one with red rice, coconut, herbs and peanuts and delicious). Can’t wait to try this, what did you serve it with?

Hope you enjoy some lovely time with your mum, Mother’s Day was in March in the uk and I went to Amsterdam with her for a weekend away and was reminded how much I value her and her steady prescience in times of turmoil.

Rosie @The Porridge Pot08/05/2014 - 2:38 pm

Rhubarb in a dressing sounds incredible, such a good idea!

Laura Wright08/05/2014 - 2:54 pm

Hi Molly, If your green rhubarb has a similar flavour to the pink stalks, I say it’s worth trying. It might be a bit more fibrous, so could benefit from a little bit more cooking time.

Eileen08/05/2014 - 2:55 pm

This salad sounds amazing! I love the idea of making rhubarb into a dressing–so tangy and awesome. And I bet it’s perfect with sweet mango and spicy almonds!

Laura Wright08/05/2014 - 2:56 pm

Hi Hannah! I just made up the big bowl of it and ate it for lunch over a couple days with a green smoothie and a bit of rice. That dish from Ottolenghi sounds amazing! Thanks for your kind note :)

Marcella08/05/2014 - 3:03 pm

This salad looks so elegant! Need to try it.

la domestique08/05/2014 - 6:50 pm

Absolutely gorgeous salad! I can’t wait to make this. Maybe you can’t make a house into a home– it happens naturally over time. I do think gathering with friends and family for meals at the kitchen table helps, though. Enjoy the family time!

Jacqui08/05/2014 - 8:09 pm

Loving the sound of this!!

Heather08/05/2014 - 9:59 pm

I completely agree. A home isn’t a home until you’ve had a good cry and spilt a glass of wine on the carpet. I am so looking forward to those summer bbq’s and late night beer drinking with my peeps, but as it stands, my house looks like a disaster zone. So happy that you’re starting to find your happy place in your sweet home.

What an unusual combo but I love your logic on how you came up with the concept. Your mom is so lucky to have a daughter like you. Great recipe.

What an unusual combo, but I love hearing how you came to that logical conclusion! It looks lovely. I am sure your mother knows how lucky she is to have a daughter like you. What a great idea for a meal. Enjoy!

Laura Dembowski09/05/2014 - 8:32 am

What a beautiful and unique salad! I can’t wait to try it to mix up dinner a litle.

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Liz @ Floating Kitchen10/05/2014 - 9:31 am

Gorgeous salad! Glad you are getting settled in :-).

ami@naivecookcooks10/05/2014 - 5:09 pm

I love love mangoes and this salad looks so good!

abby - little city adventures10/05/2014 - 5:16 pm

This looks like the PERFECT summer side dish! I’ll so have to make this for our next cook-out!

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[…] Mango Salad with Rhubarb Ginger Dressing and Chili Almonds  – I have all of the ingredients on-hand. I am so making this tomorrow! […]

ATasteOfMadness12/05/2014 - 12:30 am

This is gorgeous! I love mango, this is calling my name!

well, hello monday… |12/05/2014 - 8:09 am

[…] my ‘i want to eat this NOW’ list: one. two. three. four. five. six. <– gah. i […]

Robyn12/05/2014 - 10:44 am

I made this salad last night for our first barbecue of the season. Huge, huge hit, especially among the discerning and (at barbecues) often underserved vegetarian contingent. That rhubarb lime dressing is completely fabulous, and I’ll be making it as long as rhubarbs are around this season.

For my taste–I might leave out the mint next time. I also added a bit of parsley, which did the trick for me.

dederka12/05/2014 - 5:19 pm

I know what you mean with that house to home thing, i’ve lived in my current place for the past 8 months more or less and it still doesn’t always feel right. The first thing to normally put the blame on is a low budget of a student but then a carpet is just a thing, and having friends over and making some happy memories should go further in cosy-fying the place. Something to keep in mind this week.

Thank you for a wonderful, creative recipe, which I’ll give a go as soon as I spot rhubarb. Not such a common good here in Milan.

Have a nice day Laura!

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Ashlae13/05/2014 - 8:10 am

I made a janky ass version of this for breakfast this morning (spinach instead of kale, strawberries instead of rhubarb, etc.) and my belly is hella satisfied and happy. Stoked your house is finally starting to feel like a home – I think you should do a little house update, just sayin’. ;) xx

hannah13/05/2014 - 6:47 pm

Thank you so much for replying Laura! :) Just lettin you know I made this and LOVED it – I had some black rice and asparagus and that worked nicely!
Would you ever consider doing a video or a step-by-step photo guide?I got really nervous about how long to cook the rhubard for and what it should look/taste like and how much maple syrup to add seeing as I knew the dressing would go on sweet mango. I’d love to see you in the kitchen and how you go about assembling these crazy good recipes! Also would love to see how you slice the mango so beautifully!
I follow you on instagram and I’d LOVE to see you write up some of your green smoothie recipes! Seeing as this salad basically IS my green smoothie recipe (mango, kale, lime, almond, ginger) I’m not sure I would eat it alongside one! Would love to know your recipes!

Oh and here’s that salad:

h xxx

spotlight | This is for Real14/05/2014 - 1:39 pm

[…] get stuck in a rut buying the same ingredients and making the same recipes – I feel like this mango salad would be a great way to change things […]

Jessie19/05/2014 - 8:42 am

This looks incredible! I’ve been searching for a great mango salad recipe ever since having been wowed by one at a dinner party a few weeks ago. I can’t wait to make this. Thanks!

Amy19/05/2014 - 1:24 pm

LOVE this idea on how to deal with mangoes…I find them so frustrating to chop up, but with a handy vegetable peeler, this is a great solution!

Recipe Round-Up | Egginon23/05/2014 - 1:37 pm

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avocado tartare with roasted beets, basil + dukkah

avocado tartare with roasted beets, basil + dukkah // the first messavocado tartare with roasted beets, basil + dukkah // the first messavocado tartare with roasted beets, basil + dukkah // the first mess
The last week or so has been a sent-from-the-universe-and-thank-goodness reminder that everyone’s fighting a tough battle if you listen or look hard enough–or even if you just listen and look on a basic level of human awareness. I’ve been pulling back on the online life a bit as a call to action/but also possibly just as a natural reaction to it all. Ever try that?  Just kind of having a passive involvement in the goings on of the internet, or not even offering recognition to an actual, separate “online life” as it were? Maybe you already have a hunch, but it’s been good. A mindful retreat to the physical world makes for a reinforced sense of warmth and closeness ’round here. A reader reminded me recently that gardeners, like serious whisperers-to-the-earth-level gardeners, are optimists by their very nature. I think she’s on to something there.

So I’ve been doing more in a general way, but also cooking more. Grain salads for healthy nibbling, seedy waffles with tons of berries, and greens all day every day. When life comes in with its highs and lows, taking control of your health is the easiest way to claw your way back to equilibrium I find–provided you’re lucky enough to have access to the basic tools. Setting aside time for the benefit of your own wellbeing is a worthy undertaking in self-love + the love of your peeps, whatever the circumstances. Things to make you think and go inward. Things to make you love it all out.

We’ve got a big thing of avocados and they’re all ripening at the same time. Obviously there’s tartines/toast and guacamole, but also? I’m kind of tired of both of those things. I know full well that nobody’s been dying for a plant-y version of tartare, but the concept seems so right with avocado. Punchy capers, dijon, red onion and a tiny splash of salty tamari all jumbled in with small dices of creamy-fatty avocado on a warm-spiced beet slice and a crunchy bread/cracker vehicle? COME. ON. It’s classy enough for guests, but easy enough for snacking on while you watch the finals in ridiculous anticipation. All in one bite there’s salt, tang, sweetness, roast-y qualities, and those light nudges of umami too. It’s definitely one of the better things I’ve made recently, and I’m gonna chalk that tiny victory up to a realignment with all the brilliance of the offline world :)

avocado tartare with roasted beets, basil + dukkah // the first messavocado tartare with roasted beets, basil + dukkah // the first messavocado tartare with roasted beets, basil + dukkah // the first mess
avocado tartare with roasted beets, basil + dukkah
serves: makes almost 2 cups-worth of tartare
notes: You want the avocado to be ripe, but not so ripe that it’s soft and mushy. A little firm-ness is key for this one to distinguish itself from guacamole ;)

roasted beets:
3 medium beets, scrubbed
juice of 1 lime, divided
extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tsp dukkah spice (here’s a link to make your own!)

avocado tartare ingredients:
1 small red onion, small dice
2 tbsp capers, minced
3 sprigs of basil, chopped
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp sherry vinegar
small splash of tamari soy sauce
salt + pepper
1 medium, just-ripe avocado

flat parsley leaves for serving (optional)
extra diced red onion

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside. Wrap each of the beets in foil and place them on the sheet. Roast for about 40 minutes or until a knife can be inserted into the beets with minimal resistance. Remove the sheet from the oven, open up the foil on the beets a bit and allow them to cool. You can peel the beets at this point if you like.

Once the beets have cooled enough, slice them up and toss them with half the lime juice, some olive oil, salt, pepper and dukkah. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the diced red onion, capers, basil, mustard, sherry vinegar, tamari, salt, pepper and a big splash of extra virgin olive oil. Cut the avocado down the middle and remove the pit. Carefully peel the exterior, trying to preserve the integrity of the flesh. Dice it up somewhat small and toss it into the bowl with the capers, mustard, sherry vinegar etc. Squeeze in the rest of the lime juice. Toss everything to combine, check for seasoning, and adjust accordingly.

Serve the avocado tartare with the beets, crackers/crostini, parsley leaves, and diced onion.

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Katie @ Whole Nourishment01/05/2014 - 5:06 am

Oh my goodness, I love this tartare recipe, especially the combination of capers, dijon, and sherry and the pairing with roasted beets. It’s refreshing to hear others sensing the weight of the internet world. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

The Circus Gardener01/05/2014 - 5:09 am

This looks delightful. Some great ingredients and flavour combinations.

Averie @ Averie Cooks01/05/2014 - 5:35 am

I love beets and I love avocado and this looks like a great dish – pinned!

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar01/05/2014 - 8:36 am

This is absolutely stunning!! LOVE!

lynsey @ lynseylovesfood01/05/2014 - 8:57 am

I have been having my own battle with a huge bag of avocados and a waning creativity on what do with them as the weeks stretches on. This is perfect! Thanks Laura, xo

Kathryn01/05/2014 - 9:07 am

I think there’s something about the earthiness of this time of year that encourages a retreat back into the physical world isn’t there? The need to be outside and breathing in the fresh air and feeling for the signs of new life. All things you miss when you’re stuck staring at your computer/phone all day.

Ashley01/05/2014 - 9:26 am

All I have to say is, yesssss. To all of it. Per usual. Words, food, photos. Now let’s hang out again, mmmk? (p.s. THOSE WAFFLES. and YOUR KITCHEN. squeal.)

Amy @ Parsley In My Teeth01/05/2014 - 9:35 am

I think a vegetable version of tartare is a brilliant idea. Looks gorgeous!

mimi01/05/2014 - 9:40 am

This meal is perfection! What a perfect way to use fresh avocadoes!

Lane | Green Spirit Adventures01/05/2014 - 10:20 am

This looks absolutely delicious! And your words warm my heart. :) Perfection.

Ileana01/05/2014 - 11:11 am

I can definitely get behind avocado tartare!

You had me at avocado. This looks delicious! :)

The Naked Fig01/05/2014 - 12:31 pm

How do you always know my favorite flavors?

Sini | my blue&white kitchen01/05/2014 - 12:53 pm

Give me all the avocados! Going to have some me-time and a bowl of this green goodness.

Skye01/05/2014 - 1:05 pm

Those roasted beets look sublime. I’m intrigued that you serve them with a squeeze of lime juice – I would never have though to do that, but I bet it gives them really lovely, summery kick.

Rosie01/05/2014 - 2:07 pm

This is so awesome and original, I’m on a real beets kick at the moment so this fits nicely!

Katie @ Produce on Parade01/05/2014 - 7:43 pm

What?! This is insanely genius…

Emma Galloway01/05/2014 - 11:11 pm

Oh gawd, a break from online life is excatly what I need right now! It sucks the life outa ya right? Loving this post, recipe and the knowledge of knowing I get to hang with your lovely self REAL soon! Yay! xx

Lindsey02/05/2014 - 8:23 am

I am WITH you on the whole un-plugging thing. it all feels like too much over-stimulation at times. but hooray for gardening being a mild form of meditation/therapy! and major avocado-love for this one, laura! looks spot-on! xo

Cristina02/05/2014 - 10:11 am

These photos are especially beautiful. I have been adding capers to everything lately, so this recipe is particularly fortuitous. I would happily eat the avocado straight from the bowl, but with the beets piled onto toast, you have yourself a tartine of the highest order.

sandra02/05/2014 - 4:06 pm

how lovely – I was not aware an avocado could be tartare. I thought that referred to the uncooked-ness of a meet. Live and learn!

Lisa | Je suis alimentageuse02/05/2014 - 4:37 pm

Mmm the ripe yet still chunky avocados with the sweetness of beets sounds dreamy. Wonderful photos and a delicious looking recipe! I must try this some time =)

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Sophie Harriet03/05/2014 - 1:36 pm

You make healthy food look better than chocolate! I think in this day and age it’s always so tempting to reach for the easy way out, and we find ourselves consuming far too many processed foods. Your blog makes it apparent how worthwhile it is to nourish our bodies with food! Yum!

Tracy03/05/2014 - 7:56 pm

You HAVE to try the avocado/beet dish at Vedge in Philadelphia. Or, there is a version of it in their book. This recipe reminded me of it. It is almost a take on “bagels and lox” but with beets, avocado and smoked tofu.

kelly @ livelovepasta05/05/2014 - 10:40 am

this looks beyond amazing!

[…] Et que serait cette sélection sans recette à base d’avocat? […]

Kasey07/05/2014 - 12:21 am

Being that I’m the eternal pessimist, it sounds like I really should consider gardening. What a beautiful recipe! We’re a big avocado family over here :)

Brian @ A Thought For Food07/05/2014 - 9:14 am

See, I can’t get past the idea of just going to town on a half an avocado with a spoon. But my mind is now totally blown. Such a lovely way to showcase their rich flavor.

abby - little city adventures07/05/2014 - 8:29 pm

This looks amazing! And the photos are gorgeous, as always! So inspiring!

Spring CSA Week 5 «08/05/2014 - 1:35 pm

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Clémentine11/05/2014 - 4:52 am

YuummYumm! I think I’m going to love this tartare! Big fan of avocado and dukkah has been on my “to cook list” for way too long!

I do not know if you have ever tried sweet avocado, Laura… But I’m craving for it: simply with a bit of rice syrup and sometimes some raw cocoa beans! Not a week goes by without it…

A few weeks that I’m following you Laura and I can already tell you that I love your pics, your inspiration and so on! Congrats and thanks for sharing!

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Ash13/06/2014 - 12:03 pm

I made this last night, and it met with rave reviews. My husband basically inhaled it. A huge hit – love the capers with the avocados (a combo I’d never have thought to make).

I’m thinking I’ll serve these at a party later this summer…

Kathryn16/10/2014 - 10:02 pm

I have been dying for a plant-y version of tartare since I stopped eating meat! God, this looks amazing! Thank you sooo much!

{GF + vegan} spring veg pizza with caramelized onion cream

GF + vegan spring veg pizza with caramelized onion cream // the first messspring vegetables // the first messGF + vegan spring veg pizza with caramelized onion cream // the first mess
Our backyard came complete with hundreds of ill-placed decorative rocks, a mysterious pile of crumbled concrete pieces inside of a rotted tree stump, a patch of persistent and ever-spreading weeds, a rusty-ugly metal shed, out of control plants/trees of all kinds, creepy angel and toad statues, a pond buried somewhere in a back corner, and just a general lumpy/unevenness. I’ve spent a lot of time out there cleaning up and moving the rocks, planting some new things, reseeding the lawn, making plans for new additions. Most often though, I’ve been cursing the previous owners like it was my day job, which is to say I’ve been wasting a lot of time getting angry’d up.

I went to the passport office with my mum recently for a renewal and the woman ahead of us was seriously mean mugging. Her son wasn’t prepared with the documents, the whole thing was a waste of time, they’d have to wait forever, and when the clerk sent her over to the waiting area, her frown went deeper into scowl territory. Her passing “This is bullshit” comment was heard by anyone within a 10 foot radius. It probably goes without saying that witnessing this sort of thing bums me out. I’m an avid avoider of the comments section of any popular news/current events website. I’m all dismissive hand waves when a conversation spirals towards the pointless stewing over of certifiable crap. So it’s all the more annoying that I’ve been slipping into a discouraged funk with our dwellings.

Mark and I were treating some weeds before dark the other day, just doing the spray thing and having a little hang. We went over the massive patches and spiky scary things twice and were taking turns bemoaning the pervasive nature of it all when he said “This is kind of fun though…” We hadn’t quaffed the obligatory post-yard work beer yet, so naturally I was confused. But his point was that one day we could be out there, looking at the literal and figurative fruits of our labour, full to the brim with pride because we did it ourselves. “It’s way better than just walking into something new that’s ready to go, right?”

And ooobviously he’s right. Trying to positively shift the mind away from notions of drudgery and over towards conceptions of adventure has proven to be a difficult daily meditation of sorts. It’s been easier with the warmer days and more frequent opportunities to make some progress, so a little cheers to spring’s unavoidable vibe of opportunity seems just right today. Celebrations with pizza are decidedly in order.

I saw this beauty of a pie on Pinterest and was immediately pulled in by the idea of a crust composed of essentially soaked grains. I did some rooting around and eventually settled on the idea of combining millet and quinoa for mine. The process of making it and the end result reminded me of socca big time, so I definitely loved it. The density of the crust makes this so satiating, and as far as figuring and mixing goes, this is a fairly easy gluten-free maneuver for delicious pizza. No flour figurin’ and replacement-oriented math, you know? I topped it with a savoury and rich caramelized onion cream that will blow your mind, seriously. I’m prone to exaggeration on most days, but this pizza is so crucial.

A few other spring-y add-ons:

I have a recipe for pea shoot, mint and walnut pesto up on BuzzFeed Food, and I humbly offer you 4 tasty ways to use it.

This article/collection of resources on proper harvesting and cultivating a sense of “enough” when approaching ramp season should be useful for some of you. Leave it better than you found it, peeps.

My bud Jessica Murnane from One Part Plant made a gorgeous e-cookbook of vegan and delicious cookies to span a whole year. I contributed April’s raw oreo recipe and for that reason, she’s letting me give away a copy of A Year of Cookies! on Facebook. Click here to enter + also honk if you love cookies.

Oh and! The First Mess was selected by the editors of SAVEUR Magazine as the best special diets blog this year! Thanks for supportin’ a lady and for getting me so excited about creating and sharing in this space. Good things on the up and up :)

Last thing. Spring tunes? Yes, you got to. This album has been on repeat ’round here.

coconut cream // the first messvegan caramelized onion cream // the first messGF + vegan spring veg pizza with caramelized onion cream // the first messartichoke etc. // the first messGF + vegan spring veg pizza with caramelized onion cream // the first mess

GF + vegan spring veg pizza with caramelized onion cream recipe
crust recipe barely adapted from For Life!/Café Johnsonia
serves: 2-4
notes: You could use all quinoa or all millet instead of a mix if you’re lacking one of the two. I topped this pizza with a little lemony salad of sliced black radishes and whole parsley leaves for a fresh bite, but that’s strictly optional since I know mixing salad and pizza is a little weird for some people. Also, the caramelized onion cream (along with a nice squeeze of lemon juice) makes an excellent veggie/cracker dip situation once it’s been chilled for about an hour or so–very much a classic french onion dip vibe :)

crust ingredients:
3/4 cup quinoa, soaked overnight
3/4 cup millet, soaked overnight
1/2 cup filtered water
1 tbsp olive oil
salt + pepper
optional: chopped herbs, minced garlic, minced chilies

caramelized onion cream ingredients:
1 tbsp oil + extra if needed
1 medium cooking onion, sliced into thin half moons
1-2 sprigs of thyme, leaves chopped (optional)
1-2 cloves of garlic, sliced
big splash of sherry vinegar
salt + pepper
1 can of full fat coconut milk, chilled overnight

pizza + assembly:
5-6 spears of asparagus, cut into bite sized pieces or quartered lengthwise
2-3 green onions, sliced crosswise or down the middle lengthwise
1 artichoke, trimmed of tough outer leaves
chopped chives

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. On the counter near your oven, set up 2 8-inch cake pans, some heat-tolerant oil (like grapeseed or refined coconut oil), two trivets/hot plates, a paring knife, oven mitts and a spatula for batter-spreading/flipping.

Rinse the soaked grains in a fine meshed sieve and then scrape them into the pitcher of your blender. Add the 1/2 cup of water, oil, salt and pepper. Blend this mixture until you have a thick, pancake batter-like consistency (if you have to add a bit more water to get the batter moving, go for it). Stir in any chopped herbs, garlic etc at this point.

Place your cake pans in the oven to heat up for about 5 minutes. Carefully remove them and place them on your trivets. Pour about 1-2 tablespoons of oil into each and then place them back in the oven for 3-5 minutes. You want the oil to move fluidly across the pan and shimmer a bit (but avoid a smoking point!). Remove the pans and divide the quinoa batter between the two pans. Quickly spread the batter out a bit with a spatula and return the pans to the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, remove the pans, flip the crusts over and return them to the oven for another 5-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool crusts in the pans or on a rack. Lower your oven temperature to 400 degrees F.

For the caramelized onion cream, heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion slices and thyme leaves, if using. Sauté the onions, stirring here and there, until they’ve become soft and golden brown (but not crisped on the edges). Lower the heat if they seem to be cooking to quickly. Add the garlic and sauté for another few minutes. Add the sherry vinegar, some salt, and pepper. Stir until all of the vinegar has been absorbed/evaporated. Open the can of coconut milk and scoop the top layer of cream (all of it) into the pan with the onions. Let it melt and bring the whole mix to a simmer. Once the liquid has thickened a bit, remove it from the heat. Carefully purée the coconut cream and onion mixture in a blender until mostly smooth. Cover the cream and set aside.

Line a baking sheet with parchment and place the quinoa millet crusts on top. Spread the caramelized onion cream on the crusts and top the cream with the asparagus and green onion pieces. Gently tear away the tender leaves from the trimmed artichoke and place them on top of the pizzas. Drizzle a bit of oil on top and season with salt and pepper. Slide the tray into the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked and the cream has browned/bubbled a bit. Garnish the pizza with the chopped chives and serve hot.

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Katie @ Whole Nourishment23/04/2014 - 6:09 am

Congratulations on the win! And love the idea of this soaked-grain socca-like pizza crust. Perfect pizza for Spring!

Chelsea // The Naked Fig23/04/2014 - 8:24 am

HOLY MOLY!! This looks incredible! Delicious spring flavors and that caramelized onion coconut cream!!! Thank you!

Haley @Cupcakes and Sunshine23/04/2014 - 8:30 am

Ohhh my, this looks so great! Beautiful pictures!

molly yeh23/04/2014 - 8:50 am

i would like to jump in a pool of this caramelized onion cream plz. thx :)

lynsey23/04/2014 - 9:25 am

OMG I love this so much. I can’t wait to get home and start soaking some grains!! xo,

Kathryn23/04/2014 - 9:49 am

I was so glad to see that you won the editors choice award; it’s so well deserved and I hope yo have a total blast in Las Vegas! Intrigued by the idea of this millet/quinoa crust. Definitely going to give it a go asap.

Beth23/04/2014 - 9:57 am

I love that crust recipe! I will definitely give it a try. Finding a decent vegan, gf crust has been difficult, and I love pizza.
By the way, I LOVE that cartoon with Mrs. Krabapple!

shanna mallon23/04/2014 - 10:07 am

Um, WOW. Yes, please.

Also, yes, please, to the shifting focus–such wise words. I need that, too.

Caramelized onion cream? YUM!

Sini | my blue&white kitchen23/04/2014 - 11:46 am

First of all, huuuuge congrats on the Saveur BFBAs! Girl, you so deserved it. And secondly, this pizza looks to die for. The flavor combination is top-notch, and I’m eager to make the crust as well. Yay!!

dishing up the dirt23/04/2014 - 12:20 pm

I absolutely love this recipe. I’ve been making a lot of quinoa pizza crusts recently but your toppings are what have sold me here! That cream sauce has me drooling. Congrats on the SAVEUR award!

Cassie23/04/2014 - 12:42 pm

Love the idea of a quinoa/millet crust… just pinned this, can’t wait to try!!

Elizabeth A.23/04/2014 - 1:08 pm

Congrats Laura! You had my vote.

And I’m definitely going to be trying this pizza crust recipe. Brilliant!

Amy @ Parsley In My Teeth23/04/2014 - 1:21 pm

Congratulations! This recipe is proof of yet another reason why your blog’s win is much deserved. Looks amazing!

Eileen23/04/2014 - 2:16 pm

Ooh, just look at all those beautiful spring vegetables! I LOVE this idea. You could not get a better pizza topping!

Lisa @ Simple Pairings23/04/2014 - 2:26 pm

Ooh, so fantastically fresh and colorful! I love this. Perfect for spring and summer nights!

Jodi23/04/2014 - 4:08 pm

Caramelized onion cream!? Just pure genius, Laura! This pizza looks amazing! Happy Spring x

sandra23/04/2014 - 8:16 pm

hurray for vegan pizza. and spring!

Laura23/04/2014 - 11:42 pm

This looks wonderful! Should the quinoa and millet be cooked before soaking overnight? Thanks!

Lindsey | Cafe Johnsonia24/04/2014 - 12:24 am

This is STUNNING! I’m totally doing half millet next time. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous pictures!

Laura Wright24/04/2014 - 9:26 am

Hi Laura, The quinoa and millet are raw/in their uncooked state when they go in for the soak!

Lindsey24/04/2014 - 11:25 am

I love this post soooo much, what is life really w/o pizza. And all these spring veggies are just too vibrant and beautiful.

This space you’ve created has always been a “happy-place” of mine, something I look forward to each week, so I am beyond happy that Saveur recognized you with your win! xo

[…] good does this pizza look??? Spring veggie pizza with caramelized onion cream. And it’s […]

[…] spring veg pizza with caramelized onion cream. that […]

Claire26/04/2014 - 11:13 pm

Hi Laura!! I was wondering if I could substitute millet (or the quinoa for that matter) with some other grain… like brown rice say?? Or maybe even a bean like lentils? Thank you so much for the lovely, genius ideas every time I look at your beautiful blog.

[…] Spring veg pizza with caramelized onion cream :: The First Mess […]

Laura Wright27/04/2014 - 2:11 pm

Hi Claire! I”m honestly not sure. I’ve only tried this crust with the half and half millet + quinoa mix, and one version that was all quinoa. I don’t know if the rice would soften up enough to grind into a batter? The lentils may work, although I think the flavour might be stronger. Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful. Honestly I don’t think it hurts to try and and all grains/pulses–you should get something that’s workable. Let me know how it goes if you try something different!

[…] I’m still drooling over this spring veg pizza recipe from the First Mess. Every Sunday my friends and I gather to cook a feast together, catch up […]

Connie03/05/2014 - 5:42 pm

I just made this and OMG!! it is soooooooo good! The creamy sauce is so good that it was hard to save it for the pizza! I changed up the toppings a wee bit – but the sauce!?!? YUM!!!!!!!


Saskija06/05/2014 - 11:26 pm

I just made this (with 100% quinoa) and it was delicious! I put a little lemon grass paste, minced garlic and fresh rosemary in the batter. That might be weird, but it tasted really great. I’m making it again this week. The only thing was that the artichoke leaves got fairly dried out. I think I’ll steam them and put them on afterwards. I found that the more asparagus and green onions, the better. Thanks so much for this nourishing recipe!

[…] I’ve been reading a lot about gluten-free sprouted grain pizza crusts recently (like this one and this one), and I immediately knew the pizza to make: prosciutto and gorgonzola with balsamic fig jam. This […]

Katie09/08/2014 - 1:03 am

Hello, can I use quinoa and millet flour instead of soaking the grains? do you do it this way in order to soak the grains for health benefits? If the flours were an acceptable method, what would the measurements be?

I appreciate your reply. I have an inflammatory arthritis and I have to minimise starch and I have been looking for a suitable pizza base recipe – cause I can’t be without home made pizza!!!!

Thank you so very much,

Laura Wright12/08/2014 - 8:43 am

Hi Katie! I soak the grains for this recipe because I do quite like the idea of simply using the whole, sprouted grain. I’ve never tried this recipe with the respective flours though and honestly have no clue on what the measurements or ratios would be. Maybe a browse around some of the gluten free sites will hint at something more informed than my experience. I will recommend another alternative sort of pizza recipe that I turn to from time to time when I have the craving though. It’s Green Kitchen Stories’ cauliflower crust pizza and it’s so, so tasty. Link: