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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 =)

[…] avocado tartare with roasted beets, basil + dukkah […]

[…] avocado tartare. that’s my kind of […]

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

[…] house hot on a hot day, but makes such a refreshing cold snack to cool you off.  Take a look at this beautiful recipe for avocado tartare with roasted beets and dukkah on […]

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!

Weekend Reading, 5.11.1411/05/2014 - 11:44 pm

[…] incredibly rare that Laura creates a recipe that I’m not impressed by. But this avocado tartare? I can’t […]

[…] vegetarian lately and wanted t get more creative with things I already had in my kitchen.  I found The First Mess blog on pinterest and its one of favorite blogs for beautiful and creative vegetarian dishes.  I had […]

[…] Avocado Tartare with Roasted Beets, Basil & Dukkah via The First Mess […]

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:

[…] time. the sauce itself is incredible and found its way atop many a thing in the days following. adapted from one of laura’s many brilliant sauce recipes, it’s a simple yet completely magical blend […]

cauliflower and roasted garbanzo “rice + peas”

cauliflower + roasted garbanzo "rice and peas" with avocado, apples, radishes, herbs etc. // the first messcauliflower + roasted garbanzo "rice and peas" with avocado, apples, radishes, herbs etc. // the first messingredients // the first mess

Would you cross a moat for a meager handful of chives? I kind of did that a couple times this week. There’s only one green and edible thing out back right now and even though some heavy rain made for a solid foot of water between me and the goods (and even though there was a fridge full of totally passable fare), I had to have those little emerald green blades. They were certain proof that the world was at work once again, all despite the lump of icy grey grit-snow in the shadiest part of the yard, just uglying it all up.

So I’ve been throwing the wellies on and going out to the spot under the old apple tree to get my spring-y fill. It’s been cool and wet, the kind of cold that feels like it could turn you inside out it’s so penetrating. Sometimes I forget to put a jacket on, but it’s always worth it. This is all part of an ongoing life-betterment thing where I chase meaning and act out of intention rather than leaning into habit by seeking comfort. I’m taking extra care, going the long way around, considering actions for longer than what is probably necessary, and I’ve been shifting things around to make more room for the more creative bits, including this little space.

I mostly feel like I’m just thinking about things more, and a noticeably more active mind seems to equal a certifiably solid stream of ideas. Somewhat predictably, those ideas dabble in food a lot and that’s how I ended up with this non-rice and non-peas rice + peas.

If you have a partial understanding of what a food blog is, you’ve probably heard of a) processing cauliflower so that it can ape rice/couscous and b) roasting chickpeas for a crunchy snack. I originally thought of pairing this cauliflower rice dealy with fresh peas, but they’re just so far off and that’s just as well. The warm and golden garbanzos add to the transitional feel of this dish. I use herbs in their whole leaf form with a heavy hand for brightness. Thin radishes, apples and avocado make this a bit sharp, juicy and rich. The dressing couldn’t be simpler either. I wrapped big scoops of it into little radicchio lettuce cups and it was such a perfect lunch.

Anyway, short and sweet one today, and the gentlest of nudges/a tiny reminder that you still have until midnight tonight (EST) to vote for your faves in the Saveur Best Food Blog Awards. This one right here is nominated in the special diets category at the bottom of the page if you feel like supportin’. Big hugs this week, all :)

chive retrieving // the first messcauliflower blitz // the first messcauliflower + roasted garbanzo "rice and peas" with avocado, apples, rashishes, herbs etc. // the first messmixincauliflower + roasted garbanzo "rice and peas" all wrapped up // the first mess
cauliflower + roasted garbanzo “rice + peas” with avocado, apples, herbs etc.
serves: 6-8
notes: If you don’t have a food processor, some milling with a knife will get the cauliflower florets small enough, as long as you have the patience :) Also, I wrapped up some of this mix in radicchio leaves, just because. I feel like some chopped up pickled jalapeños would just be so great here, if you have them around.

1 1/2 cups fully cooked chickpeas, towel dried
zest + juice of 2 limes, divided (my limes were extra juicy-seeming)
olive oil
chili powder (chipotle, ancho, whatever you like)
salt + pepper
1  head of cauliflower, core removed
1 tbsp grainy mustard
1/2 tbsp maple syrup/raw honey/agave nectar
3-4 radishes, thinly sliced
1 cup flat parsley leaves
2 sprigs fresh mint, leaves sliced
2 green onions, finely sliced
1/4 cup chopped chives
1 crisp apple (like fuji or pink lady), sliced thin
1 ripe avocado, peeled and cut into chunks
1/3 cup sunflower seeds, toasted

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spread the chickpeas out on a parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle them with a bit of lime zest, chili powder, salt, pepper, and about a tablespoon of olive oil. Toss the chickpeas to coat and slide the tray into the oven. Roast until lightly crispy and golden, about 15 minutes.

Start turning the cauliflower into rice in batches. Place a few handfuls of the florets into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the “S” blade. Pulse the florets until you have small, rice-ish bits of cauliflower. Scrape the “riced” cauliflower into a large bowl. Repeat with remaining cauliflower.

Whisk together the remaining lime zest, juice, a little splash of water, some salt and pepper, the grainy mustard, maple syrup, and 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil. Pour it over the cauliflower rice and toss to coat.

To the large bowl, add the radishes, parsley leaves, mint, scallions, chives, sliced apple, and roasted chickpeas. Toss it all lightly to combine. Top it all of with the diced avocado, sunflower seeds, and some more salt and pepper (I used lots, just sayin’)

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Skye09/04/2014 - 4:12 am

I have seen lots of recipes recently with ‘cauliflower rice’, but this one really has me wanting to make it – I love all the colours of the fresh herbs and crunchy chickpeas sound like a heavenly combination. Thanks for the recipe inspiration!

PS Congratulations on the nomination – so well deserved! :)

Amy @ wrapped in newspaper09/04/2014 - 4:39 am

I love how versatile cauliflower is. It’s like, there’s nothing I can’t do you just go and try and I’ll deliver!! I made a roasted cauliflower and garbanzo salad a few weeks back but I think I’ll have to get my food processor out and try this recipe with riced cauliflower this time! Thanks for sharing and congratulations on the nomination!!! X

Katie @ Whole Nourishment09/04/2014 - 5:11 am

Wow, this is a gorgeous salad, well-worth the schlep to retrieve the chives. ;-) I love everything about it, especially the chipotle and maple additions!

Francesca09/04/2014 - 5:20 am

The maple syrup seems a little too sweet here. I just can’t imagine it with these other ingredients.

Laura Wright09/04/2014 - 7:01 am

Hi Francesca, I almost always include some sort of sweet component in any dressing/vinaigrette I make, just to balance flavours and whatnot. You could just leave it out if it’s not your thing.

Jo from yummyvege09/04/2014 - 7:44 am

Wow that is a salad I can’t wait to try. I take it the chick peas in this recipe are preboiled? I’ve seen other recipes where they are just soaked.

Laura Wright09/04/2014 - 8:22 am

Hi Jo! The chickpeas are fully cooked. Made a note in the recipe :)

Ali @ Inspiralized09/04/2014 - 8:43 am

The food looks so fresh – I love the use of chickpeas here, very creative. HI, spring!

Ashley09/04/2014 - 9:24 am

These are some of my favorite photos of yours, ever. Especially the 3rd from the top and 2nd to last. Framers! Also, your words. I feel like we are in a bit of the same place right now and while work is hectic + crazy(good) I’m trying to slow down my mind a bit. Taking more time to notice daily life happenings. Hugs, lady friend. (And…voted :))

Deena Kakaya09/04/2014 - 9:58 am

What a hearty and colourful take on a classic. I love the variety of textures in this dish. Beautiful pics too x

Ashley09/04/2014 - 10:07 am

It is 7am and I want to make this now!

Betty Jo09/04/2014 - 10:28 am

Hi Laura,

I followed your link from Ashley’s Edible Perspective, and am I ever glad I did! Your blog and photography is wonderful. So is your recipe index. I eat basically Paleo but I see scads of recipes here I can adapt. I just tried cauliflower rice for the first time last week, stir fried, and “WOW!” was it incredible. I will definitely be trying your dish from this post. I have a sensitivity to dried beans, “sob”, so will substitute chicken which should work nicely with the other ingredients. Now I’m going to explore your lovely site further.

Kristen09/04/2014 - 10:38 am

These photos are beautiful. I’ve been in such a salad rut lately, so much so that I’ve almost completely avoided them. I think this will drag me out of that. :)

Thank you. xx

Sini | my blue&white kitchen09/04/2014 - 11:15 am

This is such a perfect spring dish! I could live in these pictures (except in that puddle).

Chelsea // The Naked Fig09/04/2014 - 12:04 pm

What a delicious mix of flavors! So Fresh!

Kathryne09/04/2014 - 12:24 pm

I’m a little behind on the cauliflower couscous thing, but if it gets your stamp of approval, I’ll surely try it soon. I finally have my own yard so I think I’ll try to grow some herbs, greens and tomatoes this year. Better get on that, huh?

Eileen09/04/2014 - 1:25 pm

What a beautiful bowl of food! I love the mixture of all the different herbs. So good!

Emma09/04/2014 - 1:30 pm

Haha “If you have a partial understanding of what a food blog is…” Well, cauli rice and roasted chickpeas are popular for a reason I guess! Love your creative take on them.

Hanna Woeking09/04/2014 - 3:41 pm

Ive recently re-fallen in love with cauliflower, this looks amazing :)

molly yeh09/04/2014 - 5:45 pm

aren’t fresh chives the BEST?! ok and i have never made cauliflower rice (the thought has kind of confused me until now?) but seeing your pictures, it allllll makes sense now!

Mila09/04/2014 - 6:18 pm

This looks perfect for summer- light and fresh.

Katie09/04/2014 - 6:29 pm

Where does the grainy mustard fit in the recipe? I see it as an ingredient.

Laura Wright09/04/2014 - 7:08 pm

Katie, it’s in the dressing! I think I might have been a bit snoozy when I wrote this recipe out.. :/ Sorry about that. Fixed it in the recipe.

Patti09/04/2014 - 9:01 pm

This looked so yummy to me, but I’m a raw vegan… so here’s a version I wrangled up for supper… broccoli instead of cauliflower cuz I didn’t have any cauliflower in the house. Raw sunflower seeds, soaked buckwheat groats instead of chickpeas, persimmon seeds instead of apple, coconut aminos instead of sweet… The rest basically the same…. Really, really yum… Thanks.

Stephanie @ Everyday Feasts10/04/2014 - 2:52 am

This looks delicious! I love using radicchio leaves as cups :)

Alexandra @ Made to Glow10/04/2014 - 8:08 am

Wow, this is gorgeous! Just found you from Pinterest and so glad I did. I just happen to have a cauli head ready to go and can’t wait to try. Thanks so much! Will be sharing on my social media – I know my readers will love this!

Brittany10/04/2014 - 12:21 pm

I’m loving cauliflower rice and this salad looks absolutely delicious! Can’t wait to try it.

[…] Speaking of good food, how amazing does this look? […]

[…] Kitchen. Alex and I have even made cauliflower crust pizza that is really amazing as well. This recipe for “rice and beans” from The First Mess is definitely next on our list of dishes to […]

Kristen14/04/2014 - 1:09 pm

Congrats on your win!!!!!!!!

P. Cruickshank-Schott14/04/2014 - 10:05 pm

1. My raw variation of this dish was totally yum… so thanks…
2. Congratulations on your Saveur award. I sure voted for you!! How great!

Anna15/04/2014 - 1:50 am

This looks absolutely amazing, I’m obsessed with cauliflower right now. Congrats on your Savuer win, you absolutely deserve it.

Phoebe Lapine @FeedMePhoebe15/04/2014 - 11:17 am

I’m always looking for new, healthy GF dinner recipes…will be keeping this in mind for the future. :)

Lynn @ The Actor’s Diet15/04/2014 - 11:51 pm

Cauliflower is the new kale. I can’t get enough!

Katie16/04/2014 - 1:07 am

Made this for dinner tonight – both the boyfriend and I loved it! I didn’t use any parsley or mint just because I didn’t have any on hand and it was still very flavorful. I’d been meaning to try cauliflower rice for awhile and now I’m so excited about the possibilities. Thanks!

Margaret17/04/2014 - 11:35 am

I made this for lunch today and it’s delicious! No radishes because Trader Joe’s didn’t have any, but still great!

[…] recipe finds from the week: Homemade Reese’s Peanut Butter Easter Eggs from Texan Erin Cauliflower and Roasted Garbanzo Beans “Rice and Peas” from The First Mess Strawberry Creme Truffles from My Whole Food Life Raw Carrot Pasta with Ginger […]

Phoebe Lapine @ Feed Me Phoebe18/04/2014 - 12:02 pm

This is such an interesting mix of ingredients! I can’t wait to try this dish out.

kanwal singh19/04/2014 - 8:05 pm

Omg this looks ever so interesting- it is going to be made tomorrow -I cannot wait

Deb21/04/2014 - 1:08 am

Made this yesterday with roast. Was delicious!

Ani {@afotogirl}22/04/2014 - 4:58 pm

This looks absolutely delicious! Can’t wait to try it.

[…] for creaminess.  I had seen a post by one of my favourite local vegan-ish bloggers Laura from The First Mess using riced cauliflower and was dying to try it.  I don’t think carbs are the enemy, but if […]

Easter recap | Kid and Goat02/05/2014 - 11:06 pm

[…] since I was cooking for myself basically, I would make something super healthy.  Enter this recipe for cauliflower rice I found on […]

nancy allen10/05/2014 - 12:49 am

I am in salad heaven after discovering The First Mess, can’t wait to pass this onto my son. Thank you so much!

Jenny Depa-Karl20/05/2014 - 8:47 am

OMG! Everything looks delicious… I want to make it ALL!!!! I may add a little of my farm fresh [goat muilk] feta to this recipe (:

[…] eats: Spring green risotto with peas and asparagus / Cauliflower and roasted chickpeas / Rhubarb oat quick […]

Carla21/06/2014 - 3:59 pm

Made the cauliflower salad today and it was delicious. Although I just chopped the cauliflower – and the dressing was fabulous. My two sons every every bite.

[…] The First Mess knows how to make a mean “rice and peas” with all of the best crunchy elements […]

Yum, We Love Apples03/10/2014 - 7:10 am

[…] I’ve fallen in love with this salad. […]

[…] The large white radish has long been called 'little ginseng' in China. The old saying goes that 'when radishes come onto the market, nobody will go to the pharmacies.' Radishes are moderately high in Vitamin C, carotene and contain properties that appear to be beneficial for symptoms of colds, flu, fever, cough, respiratory problems, and digestive disorders. And Radishes can aid digestion, dissolve phlegm, and reinforce energy as well as clear a stuffy nose, ease sore joints, even help you sober up. You can easily add it to your salad like here. […]

[…] *Original recipe found here: […]