Roasted Veggie Chopped Salad

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I have Jenga Fridge. If you pull one thing out, the whole thing topples. 

My mom's fridge looks the same way. Bits of salad dressing, 4 different kinds of greens wrapped up in paper towels and  in various stages of disintegration, the smallest ends of cheeses, big tupperwares of cooked beans, and 13,000 different condiments. I guess this is the blight of the cook, and it must bring me some kind of security. 

One good problem is that I have too many veggies right now. My solution is almost always to roast them. They become so much more interesting.

Today, it was mushrooms and broccoli, going into a salad that my friend Willow and I ate together at my kitchen table, sun streaming in. It was luxurious to take a big fat break right in the middle of the day and to cover all the topics we covered--friendship, God, kids, food, the trials of self-promotion. 

More and more, I'm not identifying with the "foodie" label. Yes, I love food. I like talking about it, cooking it, even shopping for it sometimes. And I know that's not necessarily normal. But what I'm really into is what happens when we slow down enough to cook something, and what happens when we are intentional enough to invite someone to share it with us. I heard someone say recently, "I find that I don't talk much anymore about what I'm doing. I talk about what I'm noticing." That describes my stance perfectly.

Today, I notice the sun coming out after some epic grayness. I notice the sounds of Loretta and her friend Caleb talking and laughing. I notice that my dog has taken up residence right beside me, as usual. And I notice that I'm alive! There's a million things I'm doing imperfectly or incompletely. I notice that, too, and it's okay.

Roasted Veggie Chopped Salad with Tahini Dressing
As with practically every recipe I ever offer, this is an idea, a template, a suggestion. The point here is winter veggies and how they can be transformed. And how you'll be high on fiber and flavor afterward. Serves four as a main course

For roasted veggies:
1 lb. broccoli florets
1 lb. mushrooms, halved if they're big
2 Tb. olive oil
1 Tb. reduced balsamic vinegar
salt
pepper

For salad:
1 head crunchy romaine, chopped
3 big stalks celery with leaves, chopped
big handful parsley, washed and chopped
3 large carrots, julienned
big handful toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped 
1/2 c. crumbled feta
2 avocados

For dressing 
Juice of one lemon
2 Tb. tahini
salt and pepper
tsp. za'atar (or toasted sesame seeds + dried thyme)
1/4 c. olive oil

To roast veggies, preheat oven to 425. Toss them with olive oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper, and lay them out in a single layer on a piece of parchment. Roast till beginning to soften and crispy in places, about 15 minutes.

To make dressing, whisk all ingredients together, adding more of anything to taste.

Toss first 5 salad ingredients together, adding cooled roasted veggies. In a couple batches, lay the salad out on a cutting board and cut all of it together so everything is a similar size. Put back in the bowl and add feta and dressing.

Arrange it in 4 bowls (I use my hands.) Arrange avocado slices on top and grind a little pepper or put some more toasted sesame seeds on top.

Dijon Sausage and Broccoli Bake

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Friends! Family! Everyone About To Give Up On Me!

I am here, cooking, living, and opining, but you wouldn't know it to visit this site. I have always said this blog goes how my life goes. Which is to say, in spurts. I'm fine with that, and I'm glad you are too.

We are so blessed to be settling into Bellingham life. Each of us commutes twice a week to Seattle for work, which is turning out to be very doable. And we're living close to five grandparents, toting kids to soccer games and playdates, plotting the next phase of our remodel, and making friends. We are not, like so many people in the world, scrounging for our next meal or scheming about how to get our children medical care. We are not victims of political unrest or war. We are not waiting in long lines for fuel or applying for assylum. I'm aware, more and more every day, that our reality is not the world's reality. The fact that I can find time and bandwidth to write about food and community means I've been given so much. I just have to say this every once in awhile.

And I have to say, "One Baking Sheet!!" That's all you need for a great dinner. If you've got parchment paper, even better. Bon Appetit have a great feature on this that's inspiring. I've taken to roasting everything--sausages, fish, prawns, bok choy, broccoli, caulifower. Of course, there are the standards like peppers, potatoes, eggplant, onions, zucchini. I've heard Lynne Rossetto Kasper say that when she doesn't know what to cook for dinner, she walk in the door, turns the oven to 425, and then opens the fridge. I find myself in a similar pattern these days.

Depending on your ingredients, you can start things at different times (as I do here), separate them on the sheet if you don't want them mingled, or mix everything up and throw it in all at once. An essential tip is that the closer things are together, the more they will steam and not roast. They'll still cook, but without the delectable crispy edges.

My kids down the sausage, eat a good bit of broccoli, and usually leave the peppers for us. I've been around lots of picky kids lately, which has got me thinking about tips and philosophies for feeding children. Next post? See you then.

Dijon Sausage and Broccoli Bake
Serves 4 with some highly unlikely leftovers. Preheat oven to 425 and line a large jelly rolll pan (baking sheet with sides) with parchment paper or foil. In a large bowl, combine 6-8 fat sausages (Italian, bratwurst, etc.) with 2 coarsely chopped red, yellow, or orange peppers, a coarsely chopped onion, 1/4 c. olive oil, coarse salt, 2 Tb. coarse dijon mustard, and a squeeze of lemon or some lemon zest. Toss with your hands. Spread evenly on your baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, take a big bunch of baby broccoli, coarsely chop it (stems and all) and toss with olive oil (a couple tablespoons) and salt. Add to roasting mixture after it's been in the oven for 10 minutes, and roast for 15 minutes more, until sausage is bubbling and charred in places and everything's crisping up. Dump everything into a pretty bowl, put in the middle of the table, and serve with potatoes or bread, if you like. And maybe a dallop of dijon.