sides and salads Archive

Roasted Potates with Peas, Pesto, and Chives

It is precisely this time of year that I find myself in a pesto rut. It’s just that there are so many wonderful green things that exist in the world right now: basil, chives, spring onions, kale, arugula, spinach, nettles, and more. And my absolute favorite thing to do with spring greens is to make pesto. (Please see examples: A, B, and C)

But it’s easy to get into a pesto rut, to make the same pesto-ish dish over and over again. My typical pesto meal usually looks a little something like this: I boil some pasta. I toss pasta with fresh pesto. I eat said pesto pasta. If I’m feeling particularly creative, I’ll throw in some asparagus or sun dried tomatoes.

Don’t get me wrong, pesto pasta is delicious. It’s just not particularly exciting.

Last week, however, I had an inspired idea. I decided to roast some baby potatoes and afterwards, I tossed the warm potatoes with basil almond pesto, peas, mint, and chives. This dish, though somewhat humble and unassuming, was a breath of fresh air. It was exactly what I needed to get me out of my pesto rut. It was hearty and rustic, and a little bit unexpected.

Potatoes and pesto. Who knew it was a match made in heaven?

Roasted Potates with Peas, Pesto, and Chives


  • 1 pound baby yellow or white potatoes
  • 1/2 cup (shelled) peas, fresh or frozen
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup of pesto (Any pesto will do, just use your favorite pesto recipe!)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Lemon juice


  1. Preheat oven to 405 degrees F.
  2. Wash the potatoes and pat dry. Slice potatoes in half, and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper to coat. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet. (I like to ensure that some of the potatoes lay flat side up, and some flat side down, to ensure a varied level of textures and browned edges.)
  3. Roast the potatoes for 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender and starting to brown along the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
  4. If using frozen peas, remove the peas from the freezer and run under warm water until they are thawed. Gently pat dry and set aside. If using fresh peas, steam the peas for 3-5 minutes or until they are tender, but not mushy.
  5. Place the roasted potatoes into a large bowl. Toss with pesto, peas, chives, and mint. Taste, and add salt & pepper if necessary. Squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice over the potatoes prior to serving. Serve warm (but the leftovers are delicious when eaten cold!).

Vegan Kale Caesar Salad with Hazelnuts and Meyer Lemon

Fun fact: did you know that the Caesar salad originated in Mexico? An Italian immigrant named Caesar Cardini moved to Tijuana in the 1920′s and opened a few restaurants. It is rumored that he invented the now-famous salad one evening when he ran out of his usual salad dressing ingredients and was forced to make up a salad dressing on the spot. The salad was a huge hit, and its popularity quickly spread to the United States. Nowadays, you can find Caesar salads on menus across the country, from high end restaurants to fast food chains.

So, there’s your history lesson for the day!

What I would like to do today is re-write a little bit of culinary history. I would like to reclaim the Caesar salad. Don’t get me wrong: I love a good Caesar. I love it when the lettuce is fresh and crisp, when the dressing is made from scratch (and with love!). I love the salty brine of the anchovies. The crunch of the croutons. The bite of the garlic.

But let’s be honest… when was the last time you had a good Caesar salad? Caesar salads have devolved into convenience store food; pre-packaged in plastic containers filled with with rubbery white chicken (complete with fake char marks!), soggy croutons, and wilted lettuce. Most modern-day Caesar’s resemble nothing of Cardini’s 1920′s invention.

As for my version of the Caesar, it is also a far cry from Cardini’s original recipe. My version is vegan, which means it contains no eggs or anchovies. While I love a classic Caesar dressing, there’s something about the vegan version that I adore. It actually tastes like Caesar dressing – it’s creamy, briny, peppery, and garlicky. The key to this dressing is the capers (and the caper brine), as they add that certain fishy/briny element that we all know and love in a classic Caesar.

This dressing is really simple to make, it’s flavorful, and it’s healthy. And since I want to start my new year off on the right foot, I thought I’d share this recipe with you all. I’ve been making a version of this dressing for years, but in the past I’ve made it with olive oil, almonds, and romaine lettuce. I decided to class up the recipe a little, and make it with dinosaur kale, hazelnuts, Meyer lemons, and hazelnut oil. I couldn’t be happier with the results, it’s a delightful winter salad.

One last funny tidbit, and then I’ll post the recipe. I must confess, I added some roast chicken to the salad. It completely negated the veganness of it, but oh well. It was delicious. That’s the best thing about this salad, there’s a lot of wiggle room. You can change and edit it as you see fit.

Vegan Kale Caesar Salad with Hazelnuts and Meyer Lemon


  • Salad ingredients:
  • 1 large bunch Dinosaur Kale (also called Black Kale or Lacinato Kale)
  • 1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • Optional salad ingredients:
  • Red bell pepper, sliced thinly
  • Carrots, sliced thinly
  • Meyer lemon zest
  • Garlic croutons
  • Protein: Tempeh, Tofu, Grilled salmon, chicken, etc.
  • For the vegan Caesar dressing:
  • 1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 3/4 cup silken tofu
  • 2 tablespoons hazelnut oil (or olive oil)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice
  • 1 heaping tablespoon capers
  • 4 teaspoons caper brine
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper


  1. To make the dressing, first pulse the hazelnuts in a food processor until they are finely ground (1 minute or so).
  2. Add in the silken tofu, lemon juice, capers, caper brine, garlic, salt, pepper, and red wine vinegar. Process until the mixture is thoroughly blended.
  3. While the food processor is on, slowly pour in the hazelnut (or olive) oil, until the dressing is thick and creamy. (Note: There is no need to worry about the dressing being completely ‘smooth’. I happen to like the nutty texture, so I blend until it reaches the texture I like. There is a lot of flexibility with this dressing, just make it how you like it!)
  4. Once you have mixed the dressing, taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Add in salt and a healthy dose of freshly ground black pepper. If the dressing doesn’t taste briny enough, add in a bit more of the caper brine. Set aside.
  5. To assemble the salad, slice the kale into thin strips with a sharp knife. Toss the kale with the dressing and any other ingredients (carrots, bell pepper, croutons, protein, etc.). If the dressing is too thick, feel free to dilute with a bit of water or more oil.
  6. Sprinkle the salad with remaining hazelnuts and capers, and season with a few grinds of black pepper.
  7. Serve immediately, or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 24 hours. If you are not serving the salad immediately, I recommend squeezing a bit of fresh lemon over the salad prior to serving. If you have extra dressing, it will keep in the fridge for up to a week.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Hazelnut Romesco

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and yet I find myself thinking about what it means to be truly thankful.

It’s just so easy to get bogged down in the details of everyday life, to get lost in the mundane. I get too caught up in it all.

And I just need to stop. I need to take a deep breath and look around me.

I have so much.

I have been given so much.

I need to work on being grateful for all that I have, and all that I’ve been given.

I need to work on being content.

Thanksgiving is a good starting point, a day dedicated to feasting and family and thankfulness. It is a wonderful reminder that I am really, truly blessed.

As I enter the holiday season, I want to retain a spirit of gratitude. I can’t say it will be easy, but I’m going to do my best.

In any case, I hope that your Thanksgiving was lovely. (I cannot believe it was a week ago! Where did the time go?) I made these Brussels sprouts as part of our Thanksgiving meal and thought I should share them with you all.

(They are so good, it’s a little bit silly.)


Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Hazelnut Romesco


  • 1-2 lbs Brussels sprouts
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 Red bell peppers
  • 2 dried Ancho chilies or 1 tsp Ancho chili powder
  • 3/4 cups roasted hazelnuts
  • 1.5 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 piece of crusty white bread
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


  1. Preheat your oven to 400F. Lightly grease a baking sheet (or line it with foil or a Silpat).
  2. Remove the outer leaves of the sprouts. With a sharp knife, cut off the bottom of the sprouts (the ‘stem’) and slice each in half.
  3. In a small bowl, toss the sliced sprouts with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  4. Once the sprouts are lightly coated, spread in an even layer on the baking sheet.Roast sprouts in the oven until lightly browned and fork tender (but still slightly firm!), about 15-20 minutes.
  5. To make the romesco sauce: Cut crust off bread and brush with olive oil. Either toast in the oven or in a skillet until golden brown and crisp.
  6. *If you decided to make/use ancho chili paste as opposed to chili powder, please do the following: To make paste, pour boiling water over 2 dried ancho chili pods. Allow to soak in hot water for 15-20 minutes. Remove pods from water and puree, adding a little extra water to make a paste.
  7. In a food processor, combine hazelnuts, garlic, toasted bread, salt, and spices. Mix until a dry paste forms. Add chili paste, roasted red peppers, tomato paste, vinegar, and olive oil until a smooth paste forms. Add extra olive oil if you would like a thinner consistency. Taste and adjust spices as needed.
  8. The romesco sauce can be made a day or two ahead of time and stored for later use. Romesco is best enjoyed at room temperature.
  9. Once the Brussels sprouts are roasted, serve while warm with a healthy dollop of romesco sauce. You could also toss your Brussels sprouts in the romesco sauce!
  10. Enjoy.

Potato and Celery Root Mash with Horseradish

Oh my goodness, it’s Thanksgivingtimes.

I love this time of year, because it gives a sense of legitimacy to my everyday food nerderie. I pore over recipes on the internet and dream up fantastical dinner party menus all the time, but this is the time of year where I actually get to put my obsession to good use. I love it.

That being said, when Missy Maki asked me to join up with other Oregon food bloggers to create the “ultimate Oregon Thanksgiving” menu for her radio show, I did not hesitate one bit. I was asked to contribute two recipes: one for a dessert, and one for a potato dish.

I’m working a lot these days (yay for work! boo on my shocking lack of free time!), so I decided to include one new recipe, and one recipe that I posted last year. For the dessert, I chose to include my recipe for Butternut Squash Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting. It’s one of my all time favorite dessert recipes and I think it’s wonderfully appropriate for Thanksgiving. It’s a little outside of the box, so you might even score a few cool points if you make this cake as opposed to the traditional pumpkin pie.

Ok, now it’s officially time to talk potatoes. Specifically, mashed potatoes.

Here’s the thing: mashed potatoes are a hallowed and revered Thanksgiving tradition. My family is realllllllllly into mashed potatoes. At one particular Thanksgiving dinner years ago, my little sister ate so many mashed potatoes that she literally crawled away from the dinner table. (To ensure that she never forgets it, we always set the giant bowl of mashed potatoes directly on her plate at Thanksgiving. The joke will never get old, even though the famed potato incident took place 20 years ago.)

However, I will say, that after eating good old-fashioned mashed potatoes for the past 20-something years, I think it might be time for a change. I don’t want to rock the boat, but I will say that the addition of celery root and horseradish to mashed potatoes is really quite spectacular. The celery root adds a certain earthiness to the dish, and the horseradish adds just the right amount of punch. It’s a win-win situation.

Before I jump into the recipe, I will note that this is not a precise recipe, by any means. Essentially, I use equal parts potatoes and celery root, and then add various other goodies until I like the taste (i.e. sour cream, butter, salt, pepper, horseradish, etc.) It’s really quite simple. However, I do recommend that you cook the potatoes and celery root separately, as I’ve found that celery root takes quite a bit longer to cook. If you cook them together, the potatoes will begin to break down and dissolve into your cooking water, while you wait for the celery root to cook fully (and you don’t want that!).

Lastly, if you’re in the Portland area, be sure to tune into KPAM 860 on Sunday morning, November 18th, from 9am-11am, to hear your favorite Oregon food bloggers talk about our ultimate Oregon Thanksgiving Menu!

And Happy (almost) Thanksgiving!


Serves 4

Note: As I mentioned before, this recipe is a simple ratio: equal parts celery root and potatoes. Other than that, feel free to change and edit according to your personal tastes. I like my potato/celery root mash to be extra creamy and spicy so I tend to be heavy handed on the sour cream and horseradish. Also, this recipe can easily be doubled or tripled for large groups.

1 celery root (small-medium size)
4 russet potatoes
2 tablespoons sour cream (or Greek yorgurt)
1 tablespoon butter
1 heaping tablespoon prepared horseradish
Salt & pepper to taste

Optional ingredients: If you want to make it extra celery-y, feel free to use celery salt in the place of salt. I also like to pour a little chicken stock into my potato/celery root mash, as I think it makes them might tasty.


Using a sharp knife, peel the celery root and cut into 1/2″ cubes. Place in a pot and cover with water. Place on the stove over med-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and allow the celery root to cook until tender (could take up to 45 minutes).

After you get the celery root cooking, peel and chop the potatoes into 1/2″-1″ cubes. Place in a pot and cover with water and cook on the stovetop over med-high heat. Bring the potatoes to a boil and then reduce the heat slightly, allowing the potatoes to simmer until fork-tender. (About 20 minutes).

When the potatoes and celery root are fully cooked, drain the water out of each pot and combine the two root vegetables together into one large bowl or pot. Add in the sour cream (or Greek yogurt), horseradish, salt, pepper, and butter. Using a potato masher (or immersion blender or electric mixer), mash the vegetables and spices together, until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve warm, with a grind of fresh pepper (or turkey gravy!).

Shaved Apple, Fennel, and Celery Salad

I love life’s simple pleasures: the colors of autumn, sipping a great cup of coffee, putzing about the house in my crappy old blue plaid pajama pants.

In my own life, I find that I am constantly striving for simplicity. I want to take the time to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. And to be quite honest, I’m failing miserably.

My life isn’t simple, at all.

I’m always busy.

I’ve probably said this before, but I’ve discovered that cooking can be extremely therapeutic. When I step into the kitchen, everything feels different. I fall into a certain rhythm while chopping, slicing, and stirring. I find enjoyment and fulfillment in tweaking and adjusting, tasting and perfecting.

Maybe it’s cheesy to admit, but the kitchen is where I find my sense of simplicity. Specifically, when I cook food and share it with others, somehow everything just feels right. And sometimes, this feeling translates directly into the actual food on the plate. When life feels busy and overwhelming, I’m often compelled to make food that is remarkably simple and beautiful.

This is one of those things. It isn’t fancy and it isn’t complicated.

It’s simplicity on a plate.

It’s everything I’m striving for, and not quite achieving.

I’ll get there eventually.

(Serves two.)

Note: For some reason, I really wanted a creamy dressing for this salad so I used a little mayo. But I think it would be quite nice with just oil & vinegar. Also, I tossed some dried lovage into the dressing but I didn’t include it in the recipe as it’s not a terribly common pantry item. At the last second, I tossed a few toasted pecans into salad and it was the best decision I’ve made in awhile. You should try it.

1 apple (current favorite apple varietals: Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, Elstar)
3 stalks of celery
1 small fennel bulb (with fronds)
1.5 teaspoons olive oil
1.5 teaspoons mayo
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
salt & pepper, to taste

Dried lovage
Toasted pecans


Using a mandoline (or knife or food processor or magic!), thinly shave the fennel bulb and celery stalks (reserve the fennel fronds for the dressing). With a paring knife, cut the apple into thin matchsticks. (I like to slice the apple with the mandoline and then use a knife to julienne the apple into smaller pieces.) Gently toss the apple, celery, and fennel together in a bowl.

Mince the fennel fronds until you have roughly 1 tablespoon. Stir together the olive oil, mayo, vinegar, minced fennel fronds, salt, and pepper (and lovage, if using). Taste, and adjust the portions if necessary. (I happen to like a lot of pepper.)

Gently toss the salad with the dressing, just to coat. Serve at room temperature. Garnish with fennel fronds and toasted pecans.

Note: This salad keeps for about a day in the fridge, but it really tastes best the day you make it. Enjoy!

Pumpkin & Kale Salad with Tahini Dressing (Recipe Swap)

Last month, I wasn’t able to participate in the Recipe Swap, as I was driving across the country with my sister. In two years of swapping, this is the only post I’ve missed! I was bummed to miss out on all the recipe swap fun, but driving across the country isn’t exactly conducive to cooking. (On the contrary, driving across the country is conducive to eating a lot of crappy food and drinking gas station coffee.)

That being said, it’s good to be back.

There are times when Christianna emails the swap group our recipe for the month, and I’m completely inspired by it. This was not one of those times. This month’s recipe – “Russian Salad” is just plain nasty. It’s essentially a potato salad with veal and herring. (Yes, herring.) If I’m being truly honest, I got to the herring part of the recipe and decided to read no further. I am just not down with fish in my potato salad. So, I went in a totally and completely different direction. Really, the only thing my pumpkin kale salad has in common with Russian Salad is that they are both….salads. That’s it.

I blame this salad on Pinterest. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but there’s been a bit of a ‘pumpkin craze’ on Pinterest as of late. It’s all pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin cookies and pumpkin cocktails, etc, etc. I hate it! You see, I love pumpkin. I love it in curries and soups and stews. I love pumpkin in salads, gratins, and casseroles. Pumpkin is an amazingly flavorful and versatile fruit. And, sure, I love pumpkin pie as much as the next person, I just happen to believe that pumpkin does not belong in coffee. ;)

So, this is my take on the Russian salad, as well as my official submission to the great pumpkin craze. I hope you like it.

Makes 6-8 servings

Salad ingredients:
1 small heirloom pumpkin (or 1/2 of a large pumpkin)
2 heaping cups of chopped lacinato kale
2 heaping cups of roughly chopped romaine lettuce
1/2 cup candied pecans*
1/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
Salt & pepper
Olive oil
1 teaspoon nutmeg

For the Tahini dressing:
2 tablespoons sesame tahini paste
2 small cloves of garlic
the juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon water (more, if needed)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt & pepper

*You could easily make your own spiced or candied pecans, or use plain pecans. I happened upon some candied pecans at Trader Joe’s that I thought were quite tasty in this salad.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil or a Silpat.

Using a sharp knife, cut the pumpkin in half. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon and then cut each half in 2 or 3 pieces (whatever is easiest to handle). Using your knife, carefully remove the pumpkin skin from each segment. Once the skin is removed, chop the pumpkin into 1″ cubes. In a bowl, toss the pumpkin cubes with olive oil, salt, pepper, and nutmeg to coat. Spread the pumpkin pieces into an even layer on the baking sheet, and roast until fork tender, but firm (about 30 minutes). Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

While the pumpkin is cooling, mix the dressing together. Stir together tahini, olive oil, and lemon juice. The mixture will thicken and turn a lighter shade. Begin adding water, a little at a time. Stir until the mixture is light and creamy, and the desired thickness. Stir in yogurt and garlic and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

In a large bowl, toss together the chopped lettuce and kale. Toss with tahini dressing, and gently mix in the pumpkin cubes, pecans, and minced parsley. Toss with a bit more tahini dressing, until coated. Taste, and season with extra salt & pepper, if needed.

The Prettiest Watermelon Salad (with Cucumber, Basil and Fresh Mozzarella)

So, I just recently learned that watermelon is super good for you. It’s chock-full of vitamins, antioxidants, and other great things.

Who knew?

It’s just so funny to me. In my mind, watermelon was always just a pretty pink fruit, consisting of nothing but water and sugar (and annoying black seeds). Turns out, I was quite wrong about watermelon. And for that, I apologize.

It’s not that I’ve ever shied away from watermelon. On the contrary, I’ve been known to gobble down slices of watermelon at many a BBQ and family picnic. I love watermelon. But now that I’m armed with the knowledge of the health benefits of watermelon, I can truly relish each bite. It’s a rare blessing, this combination of nutrition and taste.

I saw this pretty little salad recipe on Pinterest a few weeks ago, and I was dead set on making my own version. I was in love with the presentation (a circular slab of watermelon, on a plate! amazing!). So, I went the the farmer’s market and procured myself a watermelon. I came straight home and made a watermelon salad for one. I sat at my dining room table, and I savored every bite. It was perfect.

Just the other day, while I was editing photos from my trip to Minneapolis, I realized that I completely forgot to post this recipe. In the midst of all of my travels and the general craziness of life, this post fell through the cracks. Whoops.

Don’t fret, however, because watermelon is still very much in season.

But get it while you can, folks. It won’t last long. This salad is a great way to celebrate the end of summer, and to savor some watermelon while you can.

Watermelon, Cucumber & Basil Salad
(Adapted from The Forest Feast)
Serves 4

1 small or medium sized watermelon
1/2 red onion
1 small cucumber
1 handful of fresh basil leaves, washed and patted dry.
1 package of fresh mozzarella cheese
Good quality sea salt (such as Jacobsen’s)
Freshly ground black pepper
Good quality olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Optional: Fresh parsley or mint, minced

First, slice off four thick rounds of watermelon (starting from the center). Lay the slices flat on a cutting board, and using a small paring knife, remove the rind from the melon. Place each circle of watermelon on it’s own plate. Sprinkle a little sea salt over each piece of watermelon.

Using a mandoline (or very sharp knife), slice the cucumber and red onion very thinly. Slice the mozzarella into thin circles.

Arrange a layer of cucumber slices atop each piece of watermelon. Place a layer of mozzarella slices on top of the cucumbers. Drizzle a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the mozzarella, and season with a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Top with thinly sliced red onion and basil leaves. If using other herbs (such as parsley or mint), sprinkle them on top of the basil. Drizzle just a touch more olive oil and balsamic over the salad. Serve immediately.