I will be a wholehearted gardener for the rest of my life. I used to say I was more of a casual type with this hobby, but I think the tide turned over on that a while ago. If you are in desperate need of stillness and purpose, you can go into your own patch of dirt and dig, pull, prune, putter and marvel at what you’ve accomplished with your weatherworn hands. It’s water and sun and earth, all sculpted by our own determination. The land is ours and it lets us dig ourselves out of whatever rut we’re in. I used to laugh when my dad qualified his own love of gardening by quipping “They don’t talk back…”, but I get it now. When my inbox is multi-paged, the bills are piling up, there’s drama at work, or when I’ve just had one of those days, you can find me out there with my big girl boots on, just getting dirty and feeling the feelings. The plants don’t talk back, obviously, but there’s a certain reassurance of your place in the world when you tend to them.
I planted a lot of things this year, all successful in some way or another. I think I inherited some special plant-y awareness from my parents/just actually listened to their advice because that little kitchen garden of ours really kept us in food for the last few months. I still have some greens out there, but I saved the pulling of my absolute favourite vegetable for when the Fall was certifiably cool. The celery roots. The ones that look like baby aliens, but taste like absolute heaven. Creamy textured, sweet, kinda grassy like parsley and, yes, celery-like.
But mine were so small! Nothing at all like those big, knubby, market ones. Lots of green leafy stalks and tangled up roots full of dirt, ie lots of bits to cut around before you had any real food. My dad advised that I put them in a low spot of the garden for maximal water absorption and then further explained why they can be a bit pricy: they have to take up so much real estate for so long! Next year I’ll get it right. In the meantime, I managed to scrounge up just enough for two dinners’ worth.
One night I roasted some rough dices with other roots and squash, served it with a spicy gingered quinoa pilaf and a wispy knot of kale, apple and fennel slaw on top. And the other, I served clouds of puréed celery root on top of these little pies–garden keeper’s pies as I’m calling them. I made some small dices of beets, carrots and butternut squash and slowly cooked them down with black lentils, vegetable stock, garlic, and rosemary. Small additions of balsamic vinegar and tamari round the flavours out, kind of ever-so-slightly reminding me of borscht. I much prefer this smoothed out celery root to the more traditional potato topping too. It’s a bit more interesting and light, but comforting and familiar all the same. I know all of my American pals are coming up on Thanksgiving, so I wanted to offer up a main course option for the vegetable lovers. Side dishes can be a vegan/vegetarian’s closest ally at the holiday table, but a thoughtful main can make the heart glow just a bit fonder (not a Tofurkey kinda gal).
Since this one takes a little bit of extra choppin’, I was really excited that the folks from McClure Tables were able to hook me up with a gorgeous, hard maple chopping block right on time. Did you peep it in these photos? I just enjoy looking at it on my counter because it exudes this “strength to get the job done” vibe that I can really get down with. All of the scraps from their shuffleboards and other large scale products are turned into butcher block countertops, cutting boards, and chopping blocks. You have to respect a company that makes a true effort at zero waste.
They’re letting me pass a little kindness onto you as well by offering up one (1) butcher block cutting board to give away here! To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment on this post, telling me about your favourite holiday dish–a main, side dish, beverage (non-denominational, non-dairy nog anyone?), dessert, little snack, whatever! (yes I just said “holiday dish” like an adorable grandma *blushing emoji face*) I figure just recalling a seasonal fave will get us all in an appropriately festive mood, right? Giveaway is open to US residents only and I’ll take entries until next Tuesday (November 18th) at midnight. The winner will be notified by email the following Wednesday. Good luck, lovelies! xo Giveaway is now closed. Thanks!
garden keeper’s pie w/ beets, lentils + creamy celery root mash recipe
print the recipe here!
notes: These are rough measures, but this isn’t a fussy endeavour by any means. You’re just making one big sauté, thickening it with arrowroot, topping it with a rustic mash and baking it until the whole thing bubbles and browns. Some cooked beans would fill in nicely for the lentils. Just make sure you throw them in closer to the end of the cooking process.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cooking onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 sprig of rosemary, leaves minced
4 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed + divided
pinch of chili flakes (optional)
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
5 cups-worth of small diced, hardy vegetables (I used a mix of butternut squash, carrots and beets)
1/3 cup black or french lentils, rinsed
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 tsp tamari soy sauce
salt + pepper
2 tsp arrowroot powder
1 tbsp cold filtered water
celery root mash ingredients:
3 cups peeled + 1-inch-diced celery root
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil + extra
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
salt + pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly oil 4 ramekins/cocottes/mini gratin dishes with at least 8 oz/1 cup capacity. Place dishes on a sheet pan and set aside.
For the filling, heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the diced onion and sauté until very, very soft, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the minced garlic, rosemary, thyme, and chili flakes (if using) to the pot and stir. Sauté until the garlic is very fragrant, about 45 seconds. Add the balsamic vinegar and stir. Add the 5 cups of diced vegetables and the lentils to the pot and stir to coat everything in the oil. Season heartily with salt and pepper. Sauté the vegetables and lentils another two minutes or so, stirring often. Add the vegetable stock and tamari and stir. The liquid should cover all the vegetables and lentils nicely, by about a half inch. Bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer until the vegetables are tender and the lentils are just soft, about 45 minutes. It helps if you place a lid on top of the pot slightly askew, leaving a little gap for air to escape.
When the filling is done, in a small bowl mix together the arrowroot powder and cold water. Scrape this slurry into the pot with the filling and stir to mix it in. Remove the pot from the heat.
For the celery root mash, place the diced celery root and garlic cloves in a medium saucepan. Cover the vegetables with cold water/vegetable stock if you like, and then place the pot over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer until the celery root pieces are tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the celery root and garlic, and place it in a food processor fitted with the “S” blade. Pulse the vegetables a couple times to get them moving. Add the olive oil, unsweetened almond milk, and some salt and pepper. Run the motor on high until you have a cream, homogenous mixture. Check it for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Divide the filling amongst the 4 oiled dishes. Then, divide the celery root mash among the tops of the 4 dishes, smoothing it out with a butter knife or spatula. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on top of each pie and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and thyme leaves. Place the assembled pies back on the baking sheet and slide into the oven. Bake the pies until the filling is bubbling and the tops are very lightly browned, about 20 minutes.
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Perhaps you have an inclination already, but I have a lot of cookbooks. There’s a built-in bookcase wall in our office upstairs with at least a hundred stored away, always within reach for reference. I have a bunch of selects on my coffee table because they blur that line between practicality and aesthetic experience. We have a little shelf-style cabinet in the kitchen for a small rotation of cookbooks or magazines that I’m particularly enjoying at the moment–for inspiration or outright line-by-line recipe following. A lot of spaces for a lot of different styles of cookbooks, all enjoyed in their own way.
I’ve had Amy Chaplin’s first published cookbook At Home In The Whole Food Kitchen for about a month and it travels with me all over the house. As soon as it arrived, I excitedly ripped the box open on my porch and flipped through it right then and there. First it sat on my coffee table, readily available for browsing while I caught up with the early morning news or while I half-watched football with Mark on Sundays. It sat on my desk in the office as a relevant distraction while I edited photos or worked on other recipe-related projects. Now, it has a permanent home in my kitchen bookshelf, the most reached-for and beloved place for any book celebrating food in my home. It’s full of recipes to better your own connection to food, but also ones that are special enough (and still accessible) to bring your people together for real nourishment.
I’ve always trusted Amy’s voice on her blog because she’s worked in food professionally in a variety of ways–as a renowned Chef, teacher, and recipe developer for a number of publications that I respect. Her sensibility, approach to food and combinations always appeal to some deeper part of me–not just the part that’s hungry for lunch. Her work and style makes perfect sense on a different level of awareness. I love when a book lies at a very particular intersection, the one that joins beauty/inspiration, practicality, and knowledge/curiosity. This is a vegetarian cookbook that I will refer to for the rest of my life. There are breakdowns of pantry staples, recipes you can make from those staples, whole meals, salads, desserts (with a particularly gorgeous section on tarts), but also notes on tea and cleansing. It’s a vision of healthy living that is complete, accessible and inspiring.
I made the kabocha and roasted chestnut soup since we’re deep into the season for all of those things. The ingredient list is pretty minimal, which I love. Just buttery roasted chestnuts enhancing the sweetness of the squash and a little finish of tamari to keep it perfectly savoury. We had it with some potato and herb focaccia for dinner the other night. Just right, but especially good because of the crunchy “leaves” on top. I love a whimsical and seasonal touch that evokes the goings-on of the outdoors in my food. It’s all about connection. Other recipes from the book that I’m eager to try: the date pistachio praline tart, heirloom bean bourguignon with celery root mash, beet chickpea cakes, kale slaw with creamy mustard dressing, and the plum millet muffins.
Giveaway is now closed! :) Thanks for participating.
Rather generously, Amy’s publisher sent me an extra copy to give away here. I’m thrilled to send this out to one of your homes because I know it will make a big difference in your food life. All I ask for entry is that you comment on this post with your favourite one pot/soup/stew kind of meal for this time of year. For me, it’s the Moroccan-style stew with sweet potatoes and chickpeas that I posted last year. Proper cozy-making. I will have to limit this giveaway to my pals in North America, guys. The deadline for entering will be Sunday November 2nd at 9pm EST. And one more note! I did a guest post about my morning routine, true nourishment, and some quinoa porridge at my pal Elenore‘s blog last week, which was so fun because I love that woman way too much. Click over to Earthsprout to see :) xoxo
kabocha squash + roasted chestnut soup with kale sesame “leaves” recipe
from Amy Chaplin’s At Home In The Whole Food Kitchen
notes: Amy’s original recipe calls for sheets of nori seaweed brushed with a mirin + sesame oil mixture brushed on top for the “leaves.” I only used kale because in the midst of throwing this together, I realized that I didn’t have any nori! Anyway if you have nori, you can tear the sheets into pieces and brush them with a mix of the following: 2 tsp olive oil, 2 tsp mirin + 1 tsp sesame oil. Sprinkle the nori with sesame seeds and bake in a 300 degree F oven for 8 minutes, rotating the sheet pan halfway through.
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, choped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp sea salt + more to taste
1 medium kabocha squash, peeled, seeded + cut into 3/4 inch dice
2 cups roasted + peeled chestnuts (method described below–you’ll need roughly 1 pound)
7 cups filtered water
1 large sage sprig
3 bay leaves
2 tsp tamari
ground black pepper
kale sesame “leaves” ingredients:
1 small bunch of lacinato kale
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp maple syrup
salt + pepper
small handful sesame seeds
First, prepare the chestnuts. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Place the chestnuts flat side down on the cutting board. With a serrated knife, cut a little slit into the top of each one. Place the cut chestnuts into a medium sauce pan and cover them with filtered water. Bring them to a boil and then drain. Transfer drained chestnuts to a sheet pan and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until shells are coming away from the innards. Once cool enough to handle, peel chestnuts and set aside, discarding the shells.
Lower the oven heat to 400 degrees F. Wipe out the sheet pan used for the chestnuts. Tear kale leaves into slightly larger than bite-size pieces. Drizzle them with the olive oil and maple syrup and season with salt and pepper. Toss and massage the leaves until they are thoroughly coated. Arrange them in a single layer and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Slide the tray into the oven and bake for about 7-8 minutes, or until the kale has crisped and curled up just a little bit (these burn so fast, so be careful). Remove the kale leaves from the oven and allow to cool.
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until quite soft, about 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and stir, cooking for about 30 seconds or until fragrant. To the pot, add the salt, squash, chestnuts, water, sage, and bay leaves. Place a lid on the pot and bring to a boil. Simmer until the squash is tender, about 20 minutes. Purée the soup in batches in a blender and return to the large pot. Add tamari, salt, and pepper to taste. Serve hot with kale sesame leaves.
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I love sauce (not to be confused with a love for hitting the sauce). I love the taste-as-you-go nature of making one, re-working classics, coming up with wild new versions, and smothering my food with it, always. Most importantly, I like that I can make a jar-full and have some on hand. I think we’ve been over this before, but I tend to make large runs of basic elements (quinoa, rice, lentils, chickpeas) for combining throughout the week with whatever greens we have, maybe a steamed or raw vegetable, and a healthy swipe of whatever sauce/dressing we’re going on at the moment. I think a lot of you might also eat this way, if Instagram is any indication. Those little anticipatory movements are ingrained at this point and our bodies seem grateful so far. Bowl life livin’ pals. Eating well is 95 percent preparation and just making an effort to buy only the good stuff when you’re at the store. Tasty whole foods in the house = a healthy life that comes naturally.
I’ve been trying to make a delicious and velvety goji berry-based sauce for a while now. The idea of that shocking colour on some cold weather veg was too tempting. One version I tried with vinegar soaked shallots was too tart, burying the sweetness of the dried fruit. Another version with dijon didn’t really mesh with the sweet-sour taste of goji berries at all. And yet another one that was carefully calculated with rosemary and blood orange tasted mostly like goji berries pureed with room temperature water and twigs. So frustrating! The other night it came to me out of nowhere–tahini, ginger and lemon. It would be creamy, a bit bitter, fresh and spicy–all good compliments to the slightly herbal finish of gojis (sauce-centered thoughts popping into my head around bedtime aren’t terribly unusual lately). I like using dried fruit in blended concoctions because they add their own sweetness, of course, but they also make for a creamy consistency surprisingly enough.
This goji cream is really well balanced and works for the hearty vegetables that are currently everywhere. I think it would be excellent on a kale salad though. I wanted to roast some of my celery root in the garden for this, but it was so muddy out. I knew it would be like quicksand once I reached for the shovel to dig one. I always have carrots around, but especially now because my dad grew some mighty fine ones this year, so I used those instead. So sweet and lovely! I can never resist a romanesco when I see one, but you know some cauliflower would be just the same. I used black lentils as the base because I had just enough left in my storage jar and thought it would look all contrast-y and good. The texture of the darker lentils tends to be more my pace because of the bite. There’s za’atar and sesames too. Anyway! Not too much to say today, just some inspired, easy and healthy eats with hot orange saucy splashes. Eating all the colours never gets old for me :)
fall veg + lentil bowl w/ goji ginger tahini cream
notes: I cook lentils sort of like how I cook pasta–tons of water and then I just drain when they’re done. Also, any fall vegetables you like would be fine here. After I finished these photos, I added a scoop of cooked quinoa to my bowl and it was extra nice. If you’re a dairy eater, I don’t think a handful of crumbled sheep feta would be out of bounds either :)
veg bowl ingredients:
3/4 cup french or black lentils, rinsed
salt and pepper
2 cups romanesco florets
6 small carrots, scrubbed + cut in half
1 tbsp olive oil
fat pinch of za’atar spice
1 leek, dark green part removed + hairy end trimmed
1 small beet, peeled + sliced paper thin
1 small apple, cored + sliced paper thin
1/2 ripe avocado
toasted sesame seeds
handful of flat parsley leaves
goji ginger tahini cream ingredients:
1/4 cup dried goji berries
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
juice of half a lemon
salt + pepper
1 tbsp tahini
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled + rough dice
1 tsp maple syrup
2-3 tbsp olive oil
big splash of filtered water (2-3 tablespoons)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the lentils to the water and simmer until just tender, about 25-30 minutes. Drain the lentils and then scrape them into a bowl. Drizzle them with a bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to mix and set aside.
Place romanesco florets, carrots, the tablespoon of olive oil, za’atar, salt + pepper on the lined baking sheet. Toss it all to coat and slide into the oven. Roast until you start to see brown edges on the romanesco, about 15 minutes. Slice the leek down the middle lengthwise and then slice the halves into half moons. Remove the tray of veg from the oven and carefully toss the leeks in the mix. Slide the tray back into the oven for 5 more minutes.
While the veg is cooking, make the goji cream. Place the goji berries in a medium bowl and cover them with boiling water. Let them sit a couple minutes to soften. Then, drain the gojis and toss them into a blender. To this, add the apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, salt + pepper, tahini, ginger, maple syrup, olive oil, and filtered water. Blend until you have a creamy mixture. Taste it and see if you need more sweetness, acidity or salt. Adjust and set aside.
Divide the lentils and roasted vegetables between two bowls. Place the thin slices of beet and apple on top. Cut the avocado into wedges or dices and place on top of both bowls. Drizzle the bowls with the goji ginger cream, and garnish with some toasted sesame seeds and parsley leaves. I like an extra wedge of lemon on the side of mine too.
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