Gathering # 1: D.C. Birthday, A Linfieldian Affair

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Gathering number one! It was the first real spring like day in Washington D.C. and what better way to celebrate than to gather a bunch of Linfield Alum for a delicious healthy picnic.  Oliver and I traveled to DC to celebrate the birth of a dear friend as well as take in a cherry blossom or two.

Conversation meandered from from short shorts, the invention of debt, eating for energy, and  “the good ol’  Linfield days”. Not to mention the handful of oddities to be observed in the park: music makers with loads of bling, amateur acrobats scaling park walls, and a suspicious group celebrating an “engagement party”. Needless to say, many laughs were had.

Conversation was fueled by a vitality boosting feast. The menu was inspired by birthdays, the inbetweeness of the seasons (a clinging winter meets a barely there spring) and the fact that I would be traveling with said feast and wanting to spend every last minute laughing with the birthday boy!

The Menu:

Roasted Radishes in Balsamic Radishes are already kicking around the farmers market, and birthday boy is a balsamic fan! Boom—a roasty salad that is happy to be made the day before.

Bloody Orange and Beet Salad with Tarragon I knew these two beauties would look like jewelry in the sun—plus beets are still prevalent at the farmers market and citrus is still at its absolute peak right now. I guess a long long winter is good for something.

Baby Greens with Sprouts, Daikon and Fennel — baby greens are banging right now and nothing makes greens feels fresh, clean and springy that sprouts, fennel and the crisp spicy coolness of a daikon radish.

Springy One-Pot Parsley Pesto Pasta  This pup is bursting with spring veggies and a parsley pesto! Plus it is one of those one pot wonder dishes that you can set and forget while drinking champs with your buds!

The Chocolate Enigma Tart Nothing says "celebration" like a rick chocolatey (healthy!) pie. You’ll have to click to the link to see the enigmatic ingredient list!

The days was a delight, we swooned over food and laughs and and tootled home sun kissed and soul nourished. And then we went to a super cool roof top toga party. These are the days!

 Enjoy!

***A million thank you's for the video DC GATHERING by oliver ogden on Vimeo.

***Music by  Arielle Dollinger, "The Dream"

Baby Greens with Sprouts, Daikon and Fennel

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There is nothing I love more than a big old bowl full of salad! Salads are an excellent addition to any diet, I like to recommend a salad a day as a great way to get loads of fiber, antioxidants, and chlorophyll in one fell swoop.

A fresh green salad is also a nice palate cleanser at the end of a meal, so try shaking things up and serving the salad--LAST. Great for digestion and to freshen the breath. This salad especially is a boon for digestions, specifically because of all the fennel. Fennel is great for digestion, reducing bloat, it's a liver cleanser, and just stupendous all around. Plus,  it is all over the farmers markets right now.

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Green leafy’s—the more the merrier.

Spring is a superb time to go wild with leafy greens. There are so many varieties right now, gorgeous lettuces, spinaches, chards, endless varieties of kales, pea shoots,  tatsoi and bok choy--just to name a few. I like to use a variety of  leafy greens in my salads for a couple of reasons. For one, it is nice to use a wide variety for the different tastes, textures and nutrients that leafy green provide. For two, I think that using a little bit of this and little bit of that really extends your produce. Most leafy greens will last for a week or more (greens purchased at your farmers market will last two weeks plus!!), and so why not have them all last through the week, by using a pinch of lettuce here and a handful of spinach there.

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Sprouts are simply the best.

Sprouts are a nutritional powerhouse, and given their youthful tenderness, we are able to easily assimilate the nutrients found in sprouts. Sprouts are a phenomenal addition to salads and sandwiches. And add a surprising crunch to light soups as well. I love mung bean sprouts with miso!

Sprouts are also very easy to grow on your own. You simply need some sprouting seeds (I love broccoli, mung beans and lentils), a jar for the sprouts to grow in, and a method for rinsing and draining the sprouts a couple of time a day. I have some nifty little sprouting lids, though cheese cloth would work nicely too.

Maintaining sprouts is also a super fun chore for a child chef in the house. It is fun to watch them grow, the maintenance is pretty manageable (rinse, drain, repeat.), plus what better way to get kids invested in eating them than having them grow them for the whole family. I recommend!

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Ingredients:

A big bunch of Leafy greens—big variety, spinach, baby kale, lettuces, endive, pea shoots, arugula, bok chou, tatsoi, parsley, chard

1 C lentil sprounts, mung bean sprouts

2 stalk celery, chopped

1 C daikon radish, chopped

1 medium sized fennel bulb, chopped. Include stalk and fine leaves too!

1 C purple cabbage, chopped

Dressings:

3 T olive oil

2 T apple cider vinegar

2 T quality mustard

Salt and Pepper to Taste

Mix her all up and enjoy!

Baby Greens with Sprouts, Daikon and Fennel
Author: Denise
Ingredients
  • A big bunch of Leafy greens—big variety, spinach, baby kale, lettuces, endive, pea shoots, arugula, bok chou, tatsoi, parsley, chard
  • 1 C lentil sprounts, mung bean sprouts
  • 2 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 C daikon radish, chopped
  • 1 medium sized fennel bulb, chopped. Include stalk and fine leaves too!
  • 1 C purple cabbage, chopped
  • Dressings:
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 2 T quality mustard
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
Instructions
  1. Lightly chop greens into manageable sized pieces.
  2. Add other chopped ingredients
  3. Mix dressing ingredients together. I like to add to a pint jar and shake vigorously!
  4. Dress and toss salad approximately 30 minutes before serving. The vinegar will soften the more robust leaves in a very tasty way.
  5. Serve and enjoy all those wild and wonderful greens!

Springy One-Pot Parsley Pesto Pasta

I enjoy pulling these "one-pot-wonder" pasta dishes out of my bag of tricks every now and again, because they are super simple to prepare, fun to experiment with different flavor combinations, and always pretty darn tasty. This batch was no exception.  All the simplicity and fun comes from placing all the pasta ingredients in the pot at the same time. The dried noodles, seasonings, beans, and veggies all fill the pot with about 6 cups of water, once the pot is comes to a boil, cook it 10 minutes or so, the way you would any pasta. It is still exciting to me that this works every time!

I also like that I can throw a bunch of stuff in a pot and confidently walk away, so that my hands are free to do other things. Say, toast champagne and enjoy time with friends!

For this one-pot-wonder, I chose to do a "spring" edition with lot's of fresh baby spinach and kale leaves, green peas, and swiss chard. Plus, some pesto. Parsley pesto!

Parsley Pesto

Ingredients:

2 cups packed parsley roughly chopped (approximately 1 large bunch)

1 1/2 cup walnuts

14 mint leaves

10 cloves garlic

juice of 2 lemons

Approximately 1 cup olive oil, drizzled

Directions:

1. To make up this bad boy I packed all of the ingredients into a blender, you could use a food processor too, and blended. It is smoother sailing if you drizzle the oil in while whirling everything else through the blender.

2. And voila! Pesto.

I am a huge fan of parsley---and for reasons that go way beyond a garnish. Parsley is quite nutritious, an anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant rich food. It is a great liver and blood tonic, and freshens the breath to boot. Plus, it is very easy to grow and pretty prevalent, especially in those pre-basil days of spring and early summer. So while you are waiting for basil to pop up, go get your hands on some parsley and try out this incredibly fresh take on pesto.

For this pesto I used a little bit of mint and lemon, which added to the spring time freshness of it all. I also used walnuts, which was good, though I kind of I would have used a greener tasting nut. Something like a pistachio would have been out of this world I think. Dare to be adventurous with your nut choice here! I think any number of combos would work nicely.

You could also go wild and add in some cheese, and nice pungent parmesan would be divine.

This will make about 2 cups of pesto, so you will have some left over. Try it spread on toast with avocado or cream cheese. Or make a quick supper by adding to fresh hot pasta or cooked rice on a night when you just don't feel like dealing with dinner. You know, one of those night when you just want to drink champagne instead!

To the one-pot-wonder!

 

 

Springy One-Pot Parsley Pesto Pasta

Ingredients

  • 16 oz OrecchiettePasta
  • 12 oz Peas (I used frozen)
  • 3/4 cup Parsley Pesto, add to taste (See recipe above)
  • 1 big handful fresh kale and/or spinach leaves
  • 8 chard leaves and stems, chopped in small pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans
  • juice of 1/2 lemon, plus a few slices for the top
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 portobello mushroom cut into bite sized pieces
  • 8 cremini mushrooms, washed and quartered
  • 1 red onion
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I used lots of fresh ground pepper!)
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes (optional, for those with a spice tooth only!)

Instructions

  1. Empty pasta into a large pot or deep skillet with a lid.
  2. Add all the other ingredients to the pot, be generous with the pesto.
  3. Add about 6 cups water and bring to a boil.
  4. Once boiling, let cook about 10 min, until pasta is tender. Most of the water should be absorbed. If it gets too dry add a bit of water so that the mixture is saucy, but not soupy.
  5. Remove from heat and enjoy! Would be extra tasty with some parmesan sprinkled on top and more fresh ground pepper!

Enjoy your this one pot wonder, and do experiment with your own flavor combos! I will say a pad thai works well with this method too--if that gets any creative juices flowing.

 

Bloody Orange and Beet Salad With Tarragon

This salad is really speaking to my senses—I mean look at it,  this thing is gorgeous! The moodiness  almost seems wrong for spring, but beets are still showing up at the farmers markets and the sweet crispness that comes from the oranges and tarragon makes this one a year round favorite.

Tarragon is a stupendous source of magnesium, iron and zinc. ***Side note—ladies, if it is your lady time eating foods high in mag, iron and zinc is a really really good decision. Not to mention the grounding energy in the beets, which is good when your body is super busy being a lady.

With Tarragon, fresh is best, best, best. It is far more potent eaten fresh. Tarragon is also easy to grow, and it’s delicate silvery green leaves are a feast for the eyes. When acquiring or growing tarragon, go for the French variety. The Russian stuff is a bit bitter and has a slightly different flavor.

This is good made ahead of time so that the juices can all mingle around and get all juicy together.

Feel free to vary the orange varieties to whatever is available for you!

Bloody Orange and Beet Salad With Tarragon

Ingredients:

  • 2 roasted beets
  • 2 blood oranges
  • 2 cava cava oranges
  • 5 satsuma oranges (reserve one for juicing)
  • 1 small red onion, finely sliced
  • 3 T apple cider vinegar
  • salt
  • 1 tsp fresh tarragon, chopped
  • 2 T olive oil
  • Juice of 1 satsuma orange

Instructions:

  1. Roast Beets: I roast my beets whole. I just pop them on a cookie sheet into a 400 degree oven and cook for approximately 30 minutes, or until tender. Check by poking with a knife or fork.
  2. While beets are roasting, finely slice red onion and place in a dish with apple cider vinegar and a pinch of salt, to slightly marinate. Set aside.
  3. Once beets are ready and cool enough to handle, peel them. The peels should slide right off when you rub the beet between your fingers.
  4. Cut up the beets, wither into cubes, or into thin slices. Add all beets to a bowl.
  5. Peel oranges and cut however you like. I like to cut the whole orange in half, splitting the segments, and maybe in half again, depending on the size of the orange. Add oranges to the bowl.
  6. Finely chop the fresh tarragon, and add to the bowl as well.
  7. Add onions, olive oil, and the juice from one satsuma orange.
  8. Stir it all up, to get the juices all mingling together! Serve!

Notes:

Scoop up a spoon-full of these jewels and enjoy! Also delicious served over a green salad, or in a pita with hummus!