Autumn Salad with Roasted Golden Beets and Cauliflower

Plate full of salad with roasted cauliflower and golden beets.

I’m entirely in love with the autumn we’ve had in Vancouver this year. It actually feels like a season of its own and not just an immediate onset of grey and never-ending rain (which I do love, I’m not complaining), but a breathtaking and bright extended autumn. It feels like I’m back in Ontario for my favourite time of year, just without the quiet threat of impending snow and cold. This warm salad is an ode to the seasonal fruits and vegetables of autumn, its bright colours mimic the foliage of October in Vancouver. It’s a vibrant contrast between green pine trees and palm trees against the firework display of deciduous leaves, often nestled delicately amongst the former. You could use turnip, parsnip, sweet potatoes, yams, or carrots in place of the golden beets and the apple could easily be a pear. Go ahead and use regular beets but beware their shocking hue, your salad will go from multicoloured to deep red as soon as you toss it. I also like this salad the next day wrapped up in warm pita bread or naan with a drizzle of hummus that has been thinned with tahini and lemon juice.

autumn salad with roasted golden beets and cauliflower:

5 golden beets, scrubbed and quartered

1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into small segments

Olive oil

Kosher salt

Half an apple, I like Pink Lady or Honeycrisp

2 small stalks of celery, cut into thin quarter moons

About a third of a red onion, diced and then soaked in juice of 1 lime and water for at least 15 minutes

2 cups of baby spinach, torn

Half of a pomegranate

for the dressing:

1/4 cup of olive oil

1 1/2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar

1 Tbsp. honey or 1 tsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/4 tsp. dried chilli flakes

Freshly cracked pepper and kosher salt to taste

1. Toss the beets with olive oil and generous pinch of salt and roast at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Add the cauliflower pieces and another drizzle of olive oil, roast for another 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to come to room temperature.

2. Put all of the salad dressing ingredients into a jar and shake vigorously. Set aside.

3. Cut the beets into thin slices and combine them with the cauliflower, apple, celery, red onion, spinach, and pomegranate seeds in a large salad bowl. Add the dressing and toss well to coat the salad. Let sit for at least 15 minutes before serving while still warm.

Who knew a song about a dying goldfish could be so pretty? Something meaningful and nostalgic for a warm day on the couch in front of the fire.

Pinback – Penelope

Chicken Salad with Shredded Beets and Artichokes and the 100th Post

pink chicken salad, beets

This entry marks two special occasions: my 100th post on musicwithdinner and the first article I have ever had published in an international magazine. When I first started writing musicwithdinner it was partly an attempt to ground myself in my new environment. I had just moved with my then boyfriend and now husband from London, Ontario to Vancouver, BC which meant a new city, new people, a new climate, and a new culinary landscape to explore. I was also without a job for much of the first year away from home, writing in a blog was something that involved the routine and discipline I felt were missing from my life during this period. I have grown to love this little part of the internet that I can call home; for someone who is overjoyed to talk about food during most of their waking hours, and to even further enjoy writing about it as an extension of that passion, this blog has served as something of a sanctuary for all of my meandering thoughts and emotions tied to making food. The music follows easily and obviously, I doubt I have made many meals in the past 20 years that haven’t involved its close ties to the enjoyable task of making food for myself and those I love. I was very recently fortunate enough to be published in Culture magazine’s Summer 2014 issue where I wrote about the cheese tourism scene in and around Vancouver. Many specialty food shops and book stores sell this magazine, a quarterly publication on everything fromage related that will satisfy even the most serious of turophiles.

Culture magazine summer 2014 issue Vancouver

But onto a happy 100th blog post recipe that will leave you feeling energized and as though you’ve just done something spectacularly healthy and wonderful for your body. This salad is very, very loosely based on the Mala salad served at the Barakat restaurant in London, Ontario which is described on their website as “Fattoush salad with chicken shawarma on the top and your choice of garlic
sauce or cabbage.” This salad is something that I will always miss about London, getting an order to go and eating it on a bench in Victoria Park. This Pink Chicken Salad contains only shades of a true Mala salad but I love to eat it on its own merit. If I am feeling extraordinarily organized on my weekend I will poach or roast chicken to leave as leftovers for the week, but you can always just cook it up as you need it and let it cool slightly before tearing up for the salad. After many experimental versions of this recipe I have settled on the following ingredients as my favourite combination of textures and flavours. Feel free to omit and add as you like; the following would definitely not be amiss in any salad I would eat: hot pickled peppers, tiny sour cornichons, sundried tomatoes in oil, crumbled feta cheese, toasted pita bread broken into small pieces, very thinly sliced red cabbage, extra lemon juice, sliced fennel half moons, roasted sweet peppers, slivered almonds, arugula, etc., etc. The dressing is taken from an amazing dressing recipe on that I have adapted only slightly from the original (incidentally, it makes a velvety vegetable dip when mixed with enough Greek yogurt to make it a hummus-like consistency.) Make this salad in a large shallow bowl, taking your time to uniformly chop your ingredients and create your salad. It is a meal in and of itself, but I last served it with cheeses, bread and crackers, fresh vegetables, olives, risotto balls, and antipasto as a celebratory supper.

pink chicken salad:

4 cups of spinach, torn

4 cups of romaine lettuce, torn

1/2 cup of Italian parsley, roughly chopped

1/2 cup of fresh basil, cut in a chiffonade

1 can of artichokes, drained and rinsed

1 carrot, grated

1 beet, left raw and grated

1/2 cucumber, left whole or peeled in stripes and sliced into thin half moons

1 cup of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered

2 cold chicken breasts, leftover roasted or poached and shredded

3 Tbsp. roasted pepitas

Combine all of the ingredients, beginning with the greens and the fresh herbs, in a large shallow bowl. Toss lightly with tongs to combine.

1/2 cup of tahini

1/2 cup of olive oil

1/2 cup of water

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

Juice of 1 lemon

2 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger

3 cloves of garlic

Blitz together all of the dressing ingredients in a blender until totally smooth. Add the desired amount to the salad and toss again to coat evenly before serving immediately.

celebratory cheese etc.

This meal was marked by happiness that was bright as yellow, bright as this lovely Innocence Mission song. Almost 10 years ago, when my husband and I lived on opposite sides of the continent, I put this song on a mixed CD for him because it made me feel hopeful for the moment and for the future. I had entirely forgotten about it until it came on randomly while I was cooking that night, it still makes me feel giddily bright and excited about what’s ahead for me.

The Innocence Mission – Bright as Yellow

Happiness Salad

Sunshine Salad

Forgive the tweeness of the title. The intention wasn’t to be cute, it’s just that the way this salad looks is enough to inspire happiness on even the cloudiest of days. I like to eat this salad on its own, stuffed into a pita, or with the addition of chickpeas.

happiness salad:

1 navel orange, peeled and segmented with the juice reserved

1 shallot, sliced as thinly as possible

2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

2 golden beets, roasted whole with a light coating of olive oil for about an hour in a 400 degree oven and then sliced into thinnish half moon pieces

1 yellow sweet pepper, diced

4 cups of arugula

3 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. honey

Freshly cracked pepper and kosher salt (Maldon would also be nice on this salad)

Several large leaves of basil cut in a fine chiffonade

1. In a small bowl combine the sliced shallot and orange juice leftover from the segmented orange with the apple cider vinegar. Allow to sit for at least 15 minutes.

2. On a large platter or in individual bowls arrange the arugula in a shallow layer before evenly distributing the beets, sweet pepper, and orange segments on top.

3. Add the honey, olive oil, pepper and salt to taste to the orange juice, apple cider vinegar and shallots; whisk until completely combined. Drizzle over the salad and top with the fresh basil.

And of course, something twee to go with the cuteness of the salad name.

The 6ths – As You Turn To Go


Roasted Beet Salad with Blood Orange Caramelized Balsamic Dressing

Most beet recipes begin with the adage about “no one liking beets because they have only tried the canned variety so you should roast them instead [sic].” If you roast beets in the oven they are superior in taste and texture to canned, but they still taste like beets. So, if you absolutely cannot stand beets then leave them out entirely and eat the salad as is or with the addition of a different fruit or vegetable (I think a really crisp sliced apple would be a satisfying substitute.) Personally, I find that the most important component of this salad is the dressing; a combination of caramelized sugar, balsamic vinegar, and blood orange juice. This dressing is based off of the Caramelized Balsamic Vinegar Dressing recipe in Didi Emmons’ Vegetarian Planet, an invaluable vegetarian cookbook that I would especially recommend if you like Asian noodle and rice dishes – there are large chapters on both. Blood orange juice is the citrus of choice for this recipe, the rose madder pulp has the faintest hint of fresh raspberries which pairs exquisitely with the balsamic vinegar.  This dressing will keep for up to a month in the fridge and can be used on almost any salad and is particularly delicious when used as a glaze for roasted winter vegetables.

for the roasted beet salad:

3 cups of spinach, washed and dried

2 medium-large beets

2 Tbsp. olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/2 of a  red onion, cut into thin half-moons

1/2 of a cucumber, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into thin half-moons

1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes, quartered

1/2 cup of crumbled chèvre

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Scrub the beets with a brush and place each one in the centre of an aluminum foil square. Pour a tablespoon of oil over each beet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap the beets up like a bundle and roast for 1 hour. After the beets have cooled rub their skins of with your fingers under running water, they should slip right off and you won’t get your hands covered in magenta beet juice. Slice in half and then into half-moons.

2. Place the red onions in a bowl and cover with water, allow to sit for at least a half an hour (this will take some of the bite out of them.)

3. Arrange the remaining ingredients attractively on 2 plates, scattering the beets across the top of each salad. Complete the salad by drizzling the dressing over each serving, taking care not to oversaturate the salad with excess dressing.)

for the blood orange caramelized balsamic dressing:

1 cup of white granulated sugar

1/2 cup of water

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup of olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 blood orange, juiced

1. Whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and water together. Set aside.

2. Dissolve the sugar in 1/4 cup of the water over medium-high heat in a medium sized saucepan. Let the liquid simmer until it has turned an amber honey colour, being careful not to stir in order to prevent sugar crystals from forming. Take off of the heat immediately to prevent burning. Very carefully, being mindful of splatters, pour the oil, vinegar, and orange juice mixture into the dressing in a very thin stream, whisking constantly. Cool to room temperature and then use on this salad or any other. This can be kept for up to a month in the refrigerator; it will thicken as it cools so allow it to come back to room temperature before using it.

You know how there are some songs that can only be truly appreciated at a very high volume? There is something that really resounds with me physically when I hear this song, it feels like this song vibrates more than other music. Listen to this song either really loudly in your kitchen or really loudly on headphones in the kitchen; the harpsichord has never been so good.

The Books – That Right Ain’t Shit