Tag Archives: beet

Local Box Picnic: Walnut Creek Park

Two of the best things about living in Austin are the weather and the outdoors. In 2009, Forbes named Austin one of the “best outdoor cities” in the nation. Yet, after almost a decade living here, I have explored just a few of Austin’s public outdoor spaces. This summer I’m working to fix that. My husband and I have resolved to take weekly picnics around Austin so that we can visit lots of different parks in the city and enjoy some great food together.

We started our picnic tour on Sunday at Walnut Creek Park in north central Austin. On the menu were sliced apples drizzled with local honey, a bagel sandwich with a root vegetable omelet, and a bottle of Texas wine.

The meal took us about 45 minutes to make. I packed two whole apples in the picnic basket along with a paring knife and the bottle of honey. For the sandwiches, I used Scott Ehrlich’s recipe for Spanish-Style Beet, Carrot and Egg Sandwich published by Food and Wine. Rami and I made the sandwiches with carrots from Acadian Family Farm, beets from Massey Farm, spring onions from Bar W Ranch and Farm and Yukon potatoes from Green Gate Farm.

In the sandwich, sweet onions and carrots, earthy beets, and buttery potatoes are sliced very thin and cooked until they’re tender. These become the star ingredients in an omelet, which serves as the filling for a toasted bagel sandwich. A spicy mayonnaise-based sauce complements the omelet perfectly. (Recipe here.)

The sandwiches were easy to cook, and the omelet portion of recipe will probably join our regular brunch rotation, especially when we get beets in our local box. (I never seem to use those up!)

For the picnic I assembled the sandwiches at home and wrapped them individually in foil for transport. Our insulated picnic basket kept the sandwiches hot until we arrived at Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park, which is just 10 minutes from our house.

Walnut Creek Park has extensive hiking and bike trails, an off-leash area for dogs, plus a baseball diamond and a playground. There are 26 picnic tables at the park and Rami and I had no trouble finding a quiet, clean place to eat around noon on Sunday. Our picnic table overlooked a shady clearing near a trailhead to the north, and a playground to the south. There’s also plenty of free parking available on the park property.

You can’t tell it from this picture, but this part of the park is very popular for dog owners since it’s near the off-leash area of the trail. Our dog Barclay was on his leash at the picnic table, and he enjoyed greeting several other dogs who walked by during our meal.

All in all we considered this first picnic venture a success. The sandwich was good, the wine was sweet, and the park was a pretty relaxing place to spend our Sunday afternoon. Next week we’ll be making another picnic meal with our Local Box and enjoying it at the pecan grove at Austin’s Colony Park.

-Kathryn

Advertisements

Two Local Box Salads

Salad with roasted beets, orange, cilantro, lettuce, and dandelion greens

 

The thermometer on my porch tells me that spring in Texas is over. The highs have  been in the 80s all week, and I have been compulsively checking the weather forecast for some sign that the Texas summer isn’t really starting yet. Today’s overcast skies and cool breezes give me hope. And did you know that some parts of the country had a blizzard this week? There must be hope for a spring snow day in Austin, right??

 

I probably won’t hold my breath. One good thing about this season-straddling weather is the simultaneous availability of local avocados, tomatoes, cilantro, citrus, beets, spring greens and winter greens. Having so many beautiful veggies together in my fridge a sign from above to make salad.

 

This week I created two new salad recipes that each come together in about 10 minutes, no cooking required. (Roast the beets ahead of time!) Each recipe makes an easy vegan main dish for two, or the perfect starter for a dinner party for 6.

 

The first recipe uses winter flavors of roasted beet, orange segments, and bitter greens for oomph. The second recipe is a classic guacamole salad, with cumin, cayenne and green garlic for heat since jalapenos aren’t in season yet. The inspiration for both salad dressings came from Elise Bauer’s Orange and Beet Salad Recipe. Her dressing base of olive oil and wine vinegar is genius in that she adds a little powdered mustard to help the dressing emulsify. I added some local ingredients–like Round Rock honey and cilantro from Naegelin farms– to her dressing recipe to enhance the flavors of the veggies and help them shine in each salad. I also opted for Texas pecans and dandelion greens in my version of the beet salad. You can’t beat the nutty pecan flavor against the pucker of bitter dandelion greens.

 

Salad of Roasted Beets, Oranges, Dandelion Greens
1 head red leaf lettuce, washed and torn into bite sized pieces
1 bunch dandelion greens, washed and torn into bite sized pieces
3 beets, roasted and skins removed, chopped (Do this ahead of time so they are cool!!)
2 navel oranges, peeled and segmented
1/4 cup pecan halves
Dressing:
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon dried mustard
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon honey
salt and pepper to taste
Prepare all veggies and fruits and combine in a large bowl. Whiz the dressing ingredients together in a blender, or mix them together in a small jar. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss, serve immediately.

 

Salad of Avocado, Tomato, Cilantro and Green Onion
1 head green leaf lettuce, washed and torn into bite sized pieces
1 bunch cilantro, washed and chopped
1 bunch green onions, white part reserved, green parts chopped
1 bunch green garlic, white part reserved, green parts chopped
2 avocados, peeled with pits removed, chopped
3 tomatoes, cored and chopped
Dressing:
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
white parts from one bunch green garlic
white parts from one bunch green onions
1/4 teaspoon dried mustard
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon honey
salt and pepper to taste
Prepare all veggies and combine in a large bowl, reserving the white stalks of the green garlic and green onions for use in the dressing. Combine stalks with remaining dressing ingredients in a blender and pulse until veggies are completely pureed and dressing emulsifies. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss, serve immediately.

Local Box Meal Plan: March 8-12

This week, we’re getting collards or spinach and an onion from Naegelin, shiitake or white button mushrooms from Kitchen Pride, grapefruit from G&S Groves, red leaf lettuce and arugula from Bluebonnet Hydroponics, spring onions from Acadian, cilantro and radish from My Father’s Farm, and either cabbage, carrots or beets (fingers crossed for beets!).

So I’m making:

We’ve been getting so much grapefruit lately and I’m running out of ideas (and I’ll go nuts if I have to eat any more for breakfast!). What have you been doing with grapefruit?

Local Box Meal Plan: March 1-5

This week, we’re getting green onions from Lundgren, collards from Gordon Taylor, beets and mixed salad greens from My Father’s Farm, tomatoes from Village Farm, spinach from Naegelin, cabbage and broccoli from Acadian, herb from Pure Luck, and limes from G&S Groves.

So I’m making:

  • Rosemary flatbread pizza with tomatoes and fresh mozzerella (I made the rosemary flatbread last week, but I didn’t realize that the oven needed to be cleaned before I could bake anything. So I stuck it in the freezer for another time. Looks like it’s this week!)
  • Collard and cabbage soup
  • Raw beet and spinach salad with lime vinaigrette
  • Steamed broccoli with lime and green onions (similar to how I made this okra)
  • Green salad

I’m not sure how I’ll use the herb yet, but I’m sure I’ll have some ideas when I see what it is.

My sister was nice enough to give me a gift certificate to Williams Sonoma for my birthday (along with some pink sponges — she knows me so well!), and I used it to purchase a new mandoline (my old one wasn’t too user-friendly). I’ve been wanting to make a raw beet salad for a while, and a new mandoline is a perfect excuse.

Beet and Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese

This is one of my favorite winter salads. The peppery arugula with the sweet beets and tangy goat cheese really is perfect, and when dressed with balsamic vinaigrette, I can’t get enough! If I’m in a hurry, I cut the beets into chunks and steam them, but roasting them the night before (if I remember) is delish as well.

IMG_1974_edit

The method is simple: toss some cooked, chilled beets and arugula with a dressing (I like a simple balsamic vinaigrette with plenty of salt and pepper) and top with chunked goat cheese. Since it doesn’t require a huge amount of goat cheese, I like to go to the cheese counter and get them to slice me a small piece of a really good one, like Humboldt Fog. They’re always happy to oblige.

When I take these salads to work for lunch, I’ll dress the arugula with some balsamic vinaigrette at home and store the arugula, beets and goat cheese in separate containers. When it’s time for lunch, it’s a snap to assemble and it’s as fresh as possible.

If you’ve got leftover asparagus or green beans, they’re wonderful in here also.

Local Box Meal Plan: Feb. 1-5

This week, we’re getting broccoli, swiss chard, and red spring onion from Acadian Family Farm; grapefruit from G&S Groves; radish and beets from My Father’s Farm; sweet potatoes from Naegelin; carrots from Martinez Farm; cilantro and arugula.

So I’m making:

For the Super Bowl:

Sides:

  • Swiss chard with bacon
  • Arugula salad with chilled beets and goat cheese (one of my favorite combos!)

Local Box Meal Plan: Dec. 7-11

Now that I’m back, I can’t wait to start getting Greenling boxes again! I’ve supplemented with veggies from the Pearl Farmer’s Market, but there’s something to be said for local produce on your doorstep.

What I like about local, seasonal produce is how it seems like what you’re “supposed” to eat is what’s available. The first night of Hanukkah is on Friday, and this week we’re getting potatoes and onions (the key ingredients in latkes) and apples (for applesauce). Maybe it’s a coincidence, but I’d like to think otherwise.

This week, we’re getting red potatoes and yellow onions from Naegelin, sweet Italian peppers from Lundgren, apples from Top of Texas, beets and icicle radish from My Father’s Farm, cucumbers from Home Sweet Farm, Bibb lettuce from Bella Verdi, Louisiana scallions from Acadian Family Farm, rainbow baby carrots from Animal Farm, and Hachiya persimmons from Indian Hill.

For Hanukkah dinner on Friday, I’m making:

  • Brisket with baby carrots
  • Latkes with red potatoes and yellow onions (I’ve been sworn to secrecy so I can’t share my family’s recipe, but I’m sure googling will produce lots of recipes for you to try!)
  • Applesauce
  • Bibb lettuce salad with cucumbers, scallions and radishes

For the rest of the week, I’m making:

  • Arugula salad with roasted beets and goat cheese
  • Stuffed pepper casserole
  • Persimmon bread (if the persimmons aren’t ripe enough, I’ll store them in a paper bag on the counter for a few days. They need to be quite ripe for baking.)

If anyone saw Top Chef last week, Kevin made what looked like a very cool puree from the carrot tops, so I’m going to try my hand at something like that under a panseared fish. Don’t want to waste good produce!