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Posts from the ‘Side Salad’ Category

beet & goat cheese salad with toasted hemp & sesame seeds

If it’s Wegetables, it must be Vednesday.

Confession: with waning light this time of year, in order to photograph in natural light, I’ll often prepare some dinner-ish item and eat it all by myself for lunch. If it’s a salad of sorts I’ll usually dress just enough of it to satisfy my lunch appetite, save the rest and share it with the guinea pig when he gets home. You’re getting the picture…this time of year, I’m my own guinea pig. (To be perfectly honest, I don’t mind the job. And today, I flat out loved it. I halved the recipe and ate it all. Drop the “guinea”, keep the “pig”…thank you very much!)

Ever taste hemp seeds? – ok maybe that’s the wrong question – Have you ever bought packaged hemp seed at the grocery store and used your debit card to pay? Toast these little things and they’re about the nuttiest nubbins  you’ll ever eat. Plus, as if taste weren’t enough (and let’s be honest – it really isn’t) they’re jam-packed with nutrition (especially Omega-3’s and -6’s, so super good for your heart and brain!) Add them to your cereal in the morning, your muffins or other baked goods, into your soup, into your … well, whatever!  (I swear to you, these do not taste like hay…or even like grass!)

If you can buy your beets with the greens still attached, that’s a good idea for 2 reasons – decent looking greens means the beets don’t belong to last month, and braised beet greens are the bee’s knees.

You can use a mixture of fresh greens for this salad, but the bitters are so delicious with the sweetness of the roasted beets and the creamy tang of the goat cheese. And then you’ve got all that nutty goodness going on. My goodness, this is good!

Roasted Beet & Goat Cheese Salad with Toasted Hemp & Sesame Seeds

BeetGoatCheeseSaladHempSeed-1enough for 4

for the salad

small to medium beets – 8

hemp seeds – 2 teaspoons

chicory, or baby arugula, or add a bit of radicchio or spinach – about 7 oz. total

goat cheese – 12 to 16 slices

a handful of mustard greens and water cress

sesame seeds – 2 teaspoons toasted


for the dressing

red wine vinegar (I used sherry vinegar) – 1 Tablespoon

Dijon mustard – 1 Tablespoon

Hemp Seed Oil – Or Walnut Oil – 1 Tablespoon

Olive Oil – 3 Tablespoons

Parsley, coarsely chopped – 2 Tablespoons

Salt & Pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 375° F. (190°C.)

Prepare the dressing. Mix the vinegar and the mustard together and then add the oils. Stir the parsley in and then season with a good grind of pepper and a sprinkle of salt.

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baby spinach, orange & feta salad

I’m pretty much a lousy patient. For starters, I’m notoriously bad about calling the doctor in the first place.  Give it a day or two, it’ll pass. I’m sure of it. (That gene’s on my mother’s side.) Frequently I’ll forget and need reminders nagging to take my medicine, or I’ll fail to drink enough water when I do. And that whole “bed-rest” thing…that’s for someone who’s, you know… sick!

I made an exception this time. Allow me to boast (I may never have another opportunity like this one again) – this time I was an exceptional patient. (Except for that whole wasteful bed-rest thing.) I’ve been fighting (well, not me alone) a very nasty infection. I’m pleased to announce : we’ve won! I took my medicine. I drowned myself in fluids. I ate my spinach. And you should too! (How quickly we turn smug and start to nag!)

Baby Spinach Leaves, Orange & Feta Salad 

in a Walnut-Citrus Vinaigrette


Baby spinach leaves

Orange – especially Blood Oranges if you can find them! – thinly sliced

Feta Cheese, crumbled

Pea shoots or seed sprouts

Olive Oil & Walnut Oil

Juice of fresh Lemon

Freshly-Ground Black Pepper

Toasted Walnuts – Optional


For each share of salad, about 2 cups of beautiful baby spinach leaves, washed, dried, tumbled into a bowl; peeled and thinly sliced orange, dropped on top. (Reserve as much of the fallen juice as you can.) Vinaigrette – couldn’t be easier. Equal amounts of olive oil and walnut oil. Equal amounts of freshly-squeezed lemon juice and orange juice. (Start with equal parts oil & citrus juice…adjust to suit your taste.) A few grinds of black pepper, and pinch of flaky salt. Stir, drizzle, toss. Read more

roasted cauliflower & hazelnut salad

Another vegetable dish, fit for a feast, made before the rush ~ and one that likes the temperature of the room, right where you set it.


In the fall, my mum buys big burlap bags of nuts and over the course of the winter she shells them, roasts them then puts them away, mostly for baking. Her house still smelled of an alder wood fire and roasting hazelnuts when I showed up. It was a very lucky day for me to have a sweet long visit with my mom and to walk away with my pockets bulging nuts. My luck didn’t end there because I’d just bought a beautiful organic cauliflower and (several) pomegranates without a plan. And in my newest cookbook, a dish that paired them all together. Kismet! Somedays, things just can’t get much better.

One more recipe from the sumptuous new cookbook of Yotam Ottolenghi (Jerusalem) and then we’ll give the poor man a rest.


Roasted Cauliflower & Hazelnut Salad

(serves 4 as a small side)

1 head Cauliflower, broken into small florets (1½ lb, 660 g)

5 Tablespoons Olive Oil – divided

1 large Celery Stalk, cut on an angle in ¼-inch slices

5 Tablespoons Hazelnuts, their skins on (30 g)

1/3 cup Parsley Leaves, picked

1/3 cup Pomegranate seeds (from about ½ medium pomegranate)

generous ¼ teaspoon ground Cinnamon

generous ¼ teaspoon ground Allspice

1 Tablespoon Sherry Vinegar

1½ teaspoons Maple Syrup

Salt & Pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 425°F 220ºC

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so what’s in a salad?

Fresh-air markets, booths and stalls stretching for blocks and blocks, wooden tables piled high with newly-picked fruits and vegetables.  Luscious juice-sweet fruits, all round-body shapes and colors. Rustic root or bright green vegetables some with the earth still clinging to them. Farmers in aprons, their hands, soil-worn and calloused, paring off samples for us to taste. And we held out our hands and we tasted, and we bought what we couldn’t resist. But we’d made some kind of cosmic mistake! We had no kitchen to take our booty to, no salad bowl, no wooden tongs. No aprons of our own. So it happened that everywhere we went, my longing for brilliant color tossed in a bowl grew. We had some nice salads while away, but they weren’t the salads of home. And  the salads of home are the foods I miss most of all when we’re away.

So here, for you (and for me) brilliant color in a bowl. (and between us, so delicious it’s startling!)

Once again, as is usually the case with salads around here, a list of ingredients but no amounts. I’ll give some rough guidelines, but you know how you like your salads from home, so no one will be as good a judge as you …


Brilliant Winter Green Salad with Pomegranate, Apple & Almonds

Baby Spinach – or Arugula  (which do you prefer, mild and green, or slightly bitter? Or maybe a mix of the two.)

Apple, cored and sliced

Pomegranate seeds (see a previous post for the most ingenious way to remove these wonderfully tart & crunchy little seeds)

Basil – leaves laid out on top of one another, rolled tight like a cigar and sliced thinly

Slivered Almonds, toasted brown

Shallot, sliced thinly and sauteed to a toasty brown in a bit of oil

Soft, mild goat cheese – Optional

Vinaigrette (see below)


Thinly slice the shallot and drop it into a small medium-hot skillet to which you’ve added a small amount of oil. Stir occasionally until browned. Remove to a paper towel.

Toast the almonds – in a 350° oven for perhaps 15 minutes. Check frequently. (The last bit of browning goes very quickly.) About the last 5 minutes you might (might!) want to place the shallots in the oven along with the almonds to dry and crisp them a bit more. 

Remove the seeds from the pomegranate. (See previous post link above. You’ll also find another delicious salad there.)

Toss all ingredients into a bowl (reserving a little of the seeds, nuts and shallots for sprinkling on top.) Toss with a little vinaigrette. Taste to see if amply dressed. Drizzle more as desired. Sprinkle bits of brilliance on top.

Would you like me to taste it for you and tell you why it’s so good?

Even this time of year, most markets will still have fresh crisp baby spinach leaves. These leaves taste mild and green and like Health itself. (Arugula, a little or a lot, but only for those who like the mildly bitter. I do!) Crisp sweet-tart apple, toasted almonds tasting of the hearth, threads of fresh basil winding throughout (these you nearly taste in your nose), crunchy smoky bittersweet bits of shallot, bursting tart seeds full of juice…and then…if you like this sort of thing…mild and creamy, exquisite white cheese of goat.

I . love .  this .  salad !

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green beans in summer

Keeping it simple, keeping it cool.

Fresh, crisp green beans, lightly and barely cooked then chilled. Drizzled with walnut oil. Scattered with toasted walnuts and fresh thyme leaves. Sprinkled with crunchy salt & crumbles of blue cheese. Served with anything off the grill or as one of a trio of summer salads. Simple and cool, like lemonade and a run through the sprinkler, just what we need, just as we need it.




A few secrets to beautifully cooked green beans: 

Lots and lots of water…a big pot full of roiling, boiling water.

Lots of salt…way more than you think you’d need.

quick cooking.

And, unless you’re serving immediately, a good ice-cold bath & toweling off. (the beans, I mean … but it might be just what you need too.)

Why so much water? Because when you drop the beans in, the temperature will naturally drop and will need to return to a boil…that takes far less time the more water you have. Why so much salt? It helps lock in the color AND salted water boils at a higher temperature. (Don’t worry – very little of it will be left on the beans.) As quick a cooking as possible because the longer they’re in hot water the limper and paler they become and the more of their vitamins and minerals they’ll lose. Why the quick ice bath? If you don’t cool them immediately, they’ll continue cooking outside the pot, well beyond their perfect doneness. (Thank you Julia Childs – how to cook good green beans, one of the first things I learned from you as a young cook.)

As usual when presenting vegetables, I’ll leave quantities safely in your own able hands. Here are just a list of ingredients & a few guidelines.

Green Beans in Summer with Walnut Oil, Walnuts & Blue Cheese

Fresh, crisp brightly colored green beans

Walnut oil (so delicious! You won’t be sorry you picked some up if you haven’t already)


Coarse, crunchy salt (like Fleur gris or Maldon) – (See NOTE)

Blue cheese

a few sprigs of fresh thyme

~ ~ ~

NOTE on salt – if you enjoy salt, you’ll much prefer the crunchy little bits of a coarser, slower-dissolving kind in a dish like this. It adds another element & a distinctive texture to this simple dish.

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grilled cauliflower & spinach salad

I hadn’t intended to limit my posts during these renovation weeks to vegetables and salads – wouldn’t you much rather see photos all oozy, fruit syrupy, coconut-sprinkled, chocolate-slathered, honey creamy rich swallows of sweetness that you’d gladly over-consume a day’s worth of calories to sink your face into? Of course you would. And HOW I disappoint – cauliflower, of all things! (So in hopes of making it up to you, may I direct you to a couple kitchens where they’re still putting wildly luscious things on the table that will have you drooling like a toddler cutting teeth? Merci beaucoup, Movita Beaucoup! I NEVER leave your place without a huge smile on my face and dreams of hand-feeding those I love with what you’ve just baked! And Smidge, who NEVER does things by dribs or drabs or “just a smidgens” – but goes ALL out with her exquisite cakes and cake-lets! If you don’t know and love these women already, may I suggest you should?)

Still…you don’t want to forget your vegetables completely do you? And here it is already Wegetable Vednesday!

I don’t know if you knew, but cauliflower ‘s quite the pacifistic vegetable. Mild and meek, ever-open to compromise, never jumping off the fork to assert itself. It’s SO compliant in fact, we can whip it into something very closely resembling mashed potatoes. Though it can be rather bland (flat out dull when boiled) clever humans have discovered various ways to color these pale flowers delicious. Fact is, it’s child’s play since cauliflower virtually never puts up a fight.

Grill it and toss it, while still warm, in a mustard & caper vinaigrette, tumble  in colorful spinach and tomatoes, toss fresh dill at it, and you have a scrumptiously hearty, fresh-as-Spring salad. (And though some are loathe to hear it, it’s chockablock full of vitamins too!)

Grilled cauliflower & Spinach Salad with Tomato, Dill & Capers

  • 2 Tablespoons capers, drained & coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon French wholegrain mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup (120 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small cauliflower, divided into florets
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 3½ ounces (100 grams) baby spinach leaves
  • 25 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • coarse sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds (black or brown) OPTIONAL
  • the juice of ½ lemon – at the end

Prepare the dressing: By hand or in a food processor or blender – mix together the capers, mustard, garlic, vinegar and some salt and pepper. Whisk vigorously or run the machine while adding HALF the oil (¼ cup) in a slow trickle. What will result is a thick, creamy dressing. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Set aside.

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green salad with blueberries, kiwi & goat cheese

For at least the next several weeks we have a three-part kitchen. The refrigerator is still where it belongs, but next week will be heading to the garage. Our prep space is on a long craft table set up in the dining room in front of the window – where until recently I took photos to share with you. We have the bare necessities there – the sorts of things you’d likely find at a campsite – well, okay, maybe an RV park, minus the generator. The clean up space (and the nearest water) is in our laundry room, about 100 yards (or more) away from everything. That’s also where we keep our espresso machine, because how could we consider going camping without it?

Between the clean-up space and the prep space are some stairs. On this side of the stairs are our dogs. On the other side of the stairs, a demolition crew going in and out the front door. Separating the two, at the base of the stairs, is a dog gate that I climb over with arms full of food, cutting board, salad bowl, etc etc etc. If you had a few minutes and you’re into pratfalls, you’d get a kick out of it. I’m bringing armloads of stuff to my office to prepare a salad and then to photograph it. So as you can imagine, there are a lot of “steps” involved in preparing something around here, especially something to share with people of such enormously good taste as yourselves. A lot of “foot-steps” that is. Apart from that, we’re keepin’ it simple around these parts. Here it is another Wegetable Vednesday and the show must go on!

This morning I headed to another one of Portland’s Farmers’ Markets, and this time I brought big girl camera and cash. This market too is on Portland’s park blocks, but smaller, cozier than last week’s. And, sadly, no fiddles. But there were glorious flowers and loads of beautiful vegetables and herbs to choose from.

I’m kind of a freak for salads, so I head to the greens first. But I’m apprehended by the perfume of fresh bouquets of mint and tender pillowy leaves of basil. And the greens, half of them were shades of purple! How could I resist? Another vender was selling goat cheese. Into the basket. (See those orange beets in the photo above? Those made it home too, but didn’t make it to the salad.) What did make it into the salad: the greens & the purples, the goat cheese, mint and basil, some plump bursty blueberries – and kiwi just ripe, back  at our campsite. They got tossed into a bowl, drizzled with olive oil and (blueberry infused) balsamic. But never mind if yours isn’t blueberry flavored, any balsamic you love will do! A little salt and pepper, glorious! Took a few photos then feasted simple!

(No amounts will be specified – just wing it! Have fun! We’re camping!)

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april’s green

I’m a sometimes-fan of raucous saturated vibrant in-your-face wild and wonderful jungle colors. But there’s something so gently sweet, so calm and mild about April’s green that fills me with a quiet contented peace. I love it when a color can do that.

Things have been busy around here, and are about to get noisy and busier still. I’m a creature of habit. I reach for things in certain places and expect to find them there.  I’m trying to ready myself for many of the common little things in my life trading places with each other ~ and for flying by the seat of my pants ~ and for setting aside comfortable knowns for “I wonder where?”s.  I’ll explain in a post coming soon. For now, I’m quite content to feast on nearly-April’s quiet. Of course, no sooner do I say that than I realize this isn’t just about me…but generally this blog does tend to be about what we eat around here. I hope you’re alright with that…I haven’t discovered a better way.

Last night I pulled some of those pale greens and creamy whites from the fridge and they became our salad. It was good enough to fix again for my lunch today, and even so good as to make me want to share it with you. So, here you are…

A salad of shaved fennel bulb – crisp and with its tinge of licorice-ness ~ thinly sliced apple, crisp and tartly sweet ~  Romaine lettuce, crisp and clean ~ (you’re getting the idea) ~ very thinly sliced red onion, just a touch to add a gentle bite (more like a friendly nip) ~ and shavings of fairly smoky, salty pecorino Romano cheese. Tossed in a bright vinaigrette ~ flavored with a just touch of roasted and crushed fennel seeds. Scatter a shower of a few more toasted fennel seeds on top if you like.

Fennel & Apple Green Salad with shaved Pecorino Romano Cheese

for 2

  • ½ of a large head of romaine lettuce
  • ½ apple – fresh, crisp and tart
  • ½ medium to large fennel bulb – stalks removed
  • about ¼ red onion, very thinly sliced (you could replace with green onion if you like)
  • Pecorino Romano Cheese – shaved – in whatever quantity pleases you

Fennel Vinaigrette

for 2

  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1½ teaspoon sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar of your choice – not balsamic)
  • ½  teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds (dry roasted in a small skillet over medium low heat) – OPTIONAL – if you’d like a scattering of toasty fennel seeds on top your dressed salad, roast up to 1 teaspoon of seeds, grinding half for the dressing and scattering the rest whole

Prepare the vinaigrette in a small jar by adding all dressing ingredients, shake, and set aside for flavors to blend.

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Asian slaw in ginger-lime vinaigrette

(and a word on seared ahi tuna…)

The other night, Zack came for dinner. He’s a hungry guy, a college student living on his own now. When he comes home to eat, we like to feed him well (which in no small part means: plenty.) One of his favorite things (and we know he’s not fixing this in his own kitchen) is seared ahi. He got an especially good piece this time and the “boy” was sitting satisfied (licking his whiskers) when his plate was cleaned. The thing about searing ahi is this: it happens quickly and it’s got to quickly make its way to the plate to be enjoyed hot. That doesn’t allow for portraiture … not around here anyway. So I’ll simply tell you how I fix it and leave you to conjure the images and the incredible tasty tenderness of it all.

Start with sushi-grade ahi, about 1-inch thick. I like to coat it with a layer of sesame seeds (either white or black,) patted in well…it’s quite beautiful, there’s no possibility of the ahi sticking to the pan, and I seem to get the very best sear on it this way. Put a cast iron skillet on the burner, turned to medium-high. Allow the pan to become searing-hot. Add a drizzle of sesame oil, swirl to coat the skillet, then quickly drop in the tuna.  Sear for 1 to 2 minutes undisturbed (time depends on thickness of the cut, the heat of your pan and how rare you like it – most love it very rare); flip and sear the other side. In very little saucers, serve wasabi and tamari sauce for dipping. For each of us in our family, this is one of our very favorite meals! We served it this time with white basmati rice scattered with black sesame seeds – and the following slaw, which, thankfully, stood still long enough (just barely) to be caught in a photo:

 fresh, clean and bright vegetable confetti tossed in a savory vinaigrette that balances between tart and sweet and gingery-warm. 

Asian slaw with red cabbage, red pepper, snow peas & carrot in ginger-lime vinaigrette

  • ½ head of red cabbage (3 to 4 cups)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 or 2 handfuls snow-peas
  • 2 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (black are pretty)

Finely slice the cabbage and red pepper. Either shred or match-stick cut (in 2-inch lengths) the peeled carrot. Wash the snow-peas and remove their strings. Slice thinly lengthwise. Toast the sesame seeds in a pan on the stove, medium to medium-low heat for maybe 5 minutes, shaking the pan frequently. Don’t allow to smoke. Toss with the following –

Ginger-Lime Vinaigrette

  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice (½ of an extra-juicy lime)
  • 1 Tablespoon raspberry vinegar or sherry vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon tamari (or soy sauce)
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup (or slightly more to taste)
  • 1½ teaspoon finely-minced fresh ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil (amazing stuff)
  • 3 Tablespoons canola or other light oil

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pomegranate-pear salad with cheese & walnuts

And how inspiration may oddly strike

When I take a “day off,” I love to pack up my camera and go exploring. Where I end up is often left to whim or chance, with little or no conscious attempt to lay out a plan ahead of time. Day before yesterday was such a day. Dressed for whatever weather may come, my camera bag loaded, car gassed up, I headed out. As it turns out though, all day long it was the grayest of days. No rain, no peeking sun, no moody fog. Just gray. Utterly flat, not a highlight or a shadow to be found anywhere. My camera never left its bag.

When I take a “day off” and am on my own to wander, my second favorite thing to do is amble through antique or second-hand stores. I’m never looking for “fine” things – nothing expensive and rare, but rather more common and sweet. A peace overtakes me as I comb the aisles. Most often, I buy nothing at all.  (OK, this is confession time, so get ready for it.) Every once in a while though, a nostalgia rises so strong that I’m nearly overcome by it. This is a bit embarrassing, but sometimes tears will swell – and even fall – and my heart does pirouettes. The day before yesterday was such a day.

My car had driven me to a little town that’s pretty much an antique itself, as quaint as can be without even trying very hard. I went into one of my favorite stores – upstairs, downstairs, room after room of other people’s lives laid bare for strangers (like me) to see, to finger, to turn over in our hands and examine; books inscribed with faded pen in loving words; tablecloths and bedspreads with histories and the stains to prove it; wooden telephones that hung on kitchen walls no longer standing; wicker doll carriages that little girls pushed beside their mothers’; toy rifles, cowboy hats and vests with fringe; large wide wooden bowls, like our Yaya’s, where yeasted dough would rise on the counter in a sunny spot. Uncommonly lovely remnants of people’s “ordinary” lives. Sometimes it just makes a person cry.

Upstairs, past an extraordinary, imposingly large dining table, set as if for a huge family for Sunday dinner, or maybe Thanksgiving with aunts and uncles and cousins, there stood a simple, painted open bookcase. On it, stacks of mismatched dishes. It was the color that first drew me, my eyes seemingly hungry for red. When I first saw it, mixed with pale cream as it was, I think I might even have let out a little gasp. I know I made some sound. And my heart did that thing I told you about. And my eyes welled up. And I was a goner. I believed or pretended  that I had a decision to make. But really…it was already written.  There wasn’t a chance I was leaving the store without a couple of these loveliest (to me) strawberry plates.

~ ~ ~

I think perhaps Amit had planted a pomegranate seed in my mind a few days ago.  I couldn’t quite shake it.

And when I saw these sweet little dishes, I knew, they were destined for a salad such as this.

~ ~ ~

For most salads I won’t specify amounts. What I like in this salad is a mix of greens – the delicate appearance of the watercress, with its arching stems and little leaves, and the pale prettiness of the endive, and the soft big cupping leaf of the Bibb lettuce, all make for a beautiful contrast. But baby Romaine leaves or a mixed spring blend would also work. Be your own guide as to the amounts of each you like. This would be a lovely salad on a Thanksgiving or Christmas table – or anytime while pomegranates and pears are still in season.

Pomegranate-Pear Salad with Blue Cheese and Toasted Walnuts

  • 1 pomegranate
  • Bibb or Boston lettuce, washed, dried & torn
  • Endives, washed, dried and sliced lengthwise
  • Watercress, washed, dried and thicker stems removed
  • 1 Red Pear (or apple if you prefer), thinly sliced
  • Cheese – blue or Gorgonzola (or perhaps goat cheese if you’d rather)
  • Walnuts – toasted long enough to have a toasted-walnut taste (at 325°F for 10 or 15 minutes – watch carefully & taste)

the dressing:

a simple balsamic vinaigrette, proportions of 3 parts olive oil, 1 part balsamic, with salt and pepper to taste. (You might remember I was given a gift of  pomegranate balsamic and naturally I couldn’t resist using it here! Another perhaps equally good option – a pear balsamic. But any balsamic will do!)

another option for a dressing: a raspberry vinaigrette – 2 parts olive oil to 1 part raspberry vinegar, zest of orange, a touch of maple syrup, finely diced red onion, and salt to taste.

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