Bird’s Nest Beet Salad

by brookefiore

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With hundreds of food bloggers out there, I can’t help but sometimes wonder if I’m not creative enough, original enough, interesting enough. While today’s recipe is not my own, this little glimpse into my love affair with food is.

It hasn’t always been a picture perfect love affair when it comes to my feelings about food. In high school, I knew I needed to eat more vegetables and so I would pack baby carrots and grape tomatoes in a baggie and call it good. I ate them, but I didn’t particularly enjoy them. I ate so many I now cringe at the thought of them. I ate plain chicken and plain shrimp. I knew portion control like the back of my hand, I had a great handle on my weight. But all of this did not mean I really knew or fully understood my food. Regardless, it was at this time that a match was lit and I began to develop an interest in food. I nearly watched food network nonstop.

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In college, I had a mixed bag of emotions surrounding food. Mediocre offerings in the dining hall and the lack of kitchen in a dorm room fueled resentment and frustration, a strong desire to comprehend and apply the bounty of nutrition information I was learning in classes fueled passion and appreciation. For a reason I cannot pin point, I never took a lead in the kitchen at home during these years once I said goodbye to dorm life (which was fairly soon after move-in day freshman year).

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I entered my internship, living alone for the very first time. I cooked for myself through those ten months but I wasn’t particularly creative. I had a few recipes I was comfortable with but I didn’t venture too far from them.

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They say you shouldn’t trust a skinny chef, and while I’m not sure I completely agree with this, I do feel that part of being a great dietitian includes knowing and loving food. I’m comforted in knowing that even while I’m not on the clock, I still enjoy learning about, talking about, and playing with food. These days, I rarely watch the food network for I’d rather be in the produce aisle at the grocery store dreaming up dinner menus and blog posts.

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The fact that I can now look at the markings on a beet green like a piece of artwork tells me I’ve come a long way from resentful carrot eating. I’m hoping that by making produce a very prominent part of my diet I will be able to show you that it is a beautiful and nutritious way to eat, far more so than baby carrots in a ziplock bag.

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Today’s lunch was inspired by Naturally Ella’s post on Beet and Goat Cheese Salad. Though I’ve made married goat cheese and beets as a side dish before, I hadn’t necessarily tried adding them into a salad.

With the incorporation of a few pea shoots, I’ve created a little bit of a bird’s nest for the beets. A welcoming gesture for spring

Pea shoots are a fun little find I first spotted at the farmer’s market a few weeks ago. Thought it wasn’t until I missed the farmer’s market this past week that I decided to pick some up at the grocery store. None the less, they are from a farm up in Massachusetts which is doing better than purchasing from California (no offense California, you’re just a little far away from the Connecticut shoreline). The pea shoot’s crispness and vitamin offerings of A, C, E and K are a welcome addition to my salads.

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Bird’s Nest Beet Salad

Serves 1

A handful or two or baby spinach, washed and dried

2 small to medium beets, washed (skin on) and quartered

1 TBSP maple syrup

drizzle of olive oil plus more for dressing

A handful of pea shoots

1/2 oz shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped

1 oz goat cheese

Preheat oven to 425F. Place quartered beets in a cast iron skillet and toss with maple syrup and a drizzle of olive oil. Roast for 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of your beets. Test for doneness with a fork, which should easily pierce them.

Meanwhile, assemble salad with spinach and pea shoots. Top with roasted beets, pistachios and goat cheese. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil.

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This recipe can easily be multiplied by the number of lunch/dinner guests and the beet greens can be washed, dried and stored for another recipe! Hint: Breakfast post coming soon.

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