Beet Tacos w. Chipotle Vinaigrette

Three Tacos

I have loved beets ever since I was little - fresh, out of a can, pickled, you name it - I love that bright purple-pink goodness in any form! I created this recipe a couple years ago as one of many in a meal plan for my sister; it started out just being a vegetarian option for her as she doesn’t have a lot of meat in her diet, but we made it one night for the rest of the family and it has become a part of our regular rotation when we all get together! The vinaigrette makes it - it is so so delicious! I love it as-is but the spice can be kicked up a notch with more chipotle if that’s how you roll. I roll a little tamer when it comes to spice! It’s also easy to make it vegan by omitting the cheese and crema, or substituting your favorite non-dairy counterparts.

BEET TACOS W. CHIPOTLE VINAIGRETTE // MAKES 16

Vinaigrette:

3 T honey or agave

¼ c balsamic vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

1 T finely minced chipotle in adobo

1 T smoked paprika

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp white pepper

5 T Canola oil

Tacos:

4 large beets

kosher salt

16 corn tortillas

½ cup pepitas, toasted*

2 cups arugula

1 cup crumbled cotija or goat cheese

Chipotle vinaigrette (see below)

Cilantro, coarsely chopped

⅔ c crema or sour cream

Lime wedges for serving

*To toast pepitas Turn oven to 325 degrees. Toss raw, hulled pepitas with a little olive oil, just to coat. Spread on a single layer on a baking sheet and sprinkle with a little salt and ground coriander and cumin to taste. Toast in oven until color starts to turn 9-12 minutes, turning once and checking. Some ovens toast fast!

Increase oven to 425 degrees. Peel beets and chop into ½ inch cubes (wear gloves if you want to keep your hands their normal color!). Toss with a little oil, salt, and pepper and spread in an even layer on a baking sheet, being careful not to crowd them. Roast in oven for 15-20 minutes, until fork-tender. It may take a little longer, depending on your oven and how soft you want them. Wrap tortillas in foil and place them in the oven on the rack below the beets. Remove about halfway through, rotate tortillas in foil, then re-wrap and continue to warm in oven. Alternatively, you can quickly grill them over an open flame just before serving.

Meanwhile, blend honey, vinegar, garlic, chipotle, paprika, salt, and pepper together in a blender or food processor. With motor running, slowly add the oil, one tablespoon at a time, until blended and emulsified with the other ingredients.

To assemble tacos: place a little arugula on a tortilla, drizzle with vinaigrette, top with beets, cotija, pepitas, and crema. Sprinkle with a little chopped cilantro.

Tacos w. Limes

I think both cheeses are equally delicious in this dish - the cotija gives it a more authentic Mexican vibe, but if you can’t find it or won’t use it again, goat cheese is the way to go since many of us already have that in our fridge - goat cheese gives it a more hipster vibe. If you find yourself with leftover vinaigrette, you can serve it with other roast vegetables, or dress a salad with it, or drink it straight, it’s that good.

If you and your family are of the more carnivorous persuasion, toss in some shredded chicken or pork too, but I encourage you to keep the beets as they are pretty little purple jewels that are so good for you!

 

With a full heart and an empty plate,

Katie

Market Vegetable Tart

The Union Square Farmers Market is one of the most beautiful things in the city this time of year - loads of gorgeous seasonal produce, piled high on tables with their purveyors offering all kinds of samples and knowledge on what they grow. I always do a lap just to look around, try new things, and admire all the plants and flowers. Then I look at my list, which I’ll be honest, is rarely actually stuck to, and do my shopping! Along with my list basics, I brought home some donut peaches, watermelon gherkins, and some tiny red new potatoes because they all looked so good. I tried these gherkins for the first time at a market with my sister in Vancouver a couple of weeks ago and they taste like tart, crunchy cucumbers - they were not a favorite of my husbands, but it’s nice to get him to try new things and I loved them!

Watermelon Gherkins

I cut a chunk off one of the peaches for a little snack and oh my! it was SO sweet and juicy and peachy! Trying new fruits and vegetables is one of my favorite parts about the market; it's the perfect place to be adventurous because everything there is at its peak of freshness and seasonality so you are getting a true taste for what it is. It’s also a great place for the ‘classic’ veggies because of the height of flavor and I was inspired by the zucchini, yellow squash, scallions, and heirloom cherry tomatoes for this tart. My current obsession for goat feta was also thrown into the recipe!

Summer Market Vegetable Tart // Makes 9” Tart, serves 6-8

Crust:

1 ½ c flour

½ tsp salt

3oz cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

1.5oz cold vegan shortening, cut into cubes (I use Earth Balance)

3-4 T ice water

*Alternatively, use a store bought dough and skip down to the shaping and blind baking portion that is also marked with an * below!

In the bowl of your food processor, pulse the flour and salt together. Add butter and shortening and pulse 6 or 7 times, until the mixture is in chunks of about pea size or a little larger, it should not be uniform. One tablespoon at a time, pour the ice water through the feed tube with the motor running, until the dough just comes together - err on the side of not enough water, then stop the motor to check. Too much water can yield a tough dough. Place a piece of plastic wrap on the counter, then remove your dough from the bowl, shaping it into a flat disk and wrapping it in the plastic. Refrigerate for one hour. Prepare vegetables for filling:

Filling:

Favorite seasonal veggies, I used:

1 small zucchini

½ yellow squash

5 scallions

About 1 cup heirloom cherry tomatoes, sliced

¼ c creme fraiche

¼ c milk

3 eggs

3-4 T chopped fresh herbs, I used basil and parsley

4oz goat cheese

2oz goat feta (optional, or use regular feta)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Slice zucchini and yellow squash into ⅛” thick coins and trim the scallions. Drizzle some olive oil on a baking sheet, then place the coins and scallions in a single layer on top, drizzle with a little more oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes, then flip so they brown evenly on both sides, roast about another 10 minutes. Leave on pan until ready to use, and meanwhile, slice your tomatoes and chop your herbs. Turn your oven off so your kitchen is not too hot when rolling your pastry.

*Once dough is chilled, roll out on floured surface to about a 12” circle. Carefully fold in half and transfer to a tart pan with removable bottom; unfold and loosely place into the edges of the pan and over the sides. Do not stretch the dough here as that leads to shrinkage when baked. Trim the edges to a 1” overhang, then fold it in to create extra-thick sides. Press evenly into the flutes of the pan. Prick all over with a fork and place in freezer for 15 minutes while you turn the oven to 400 degrees.

Tart Crust

Once dough has chilled, crumple up a piece of parchment that is just larger than the tart, and place it on top of the dough and add pie weights (or dried beans like I do!). The crumpling of the paper allows it to reach into the edges and lets the weights actually do their job! Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the weights and bake until the crust is golden all over, 5-7 minutes more. Reduce heat to 375.

TIP: If using beans as weights, allow to cool, then keep in an airtight container that is well labeled as you can use them again and again for this purpose, but not for eating!

While the crust cools slightly, whisk together the creme fraiche, milk, eggs, herbs, and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the goat cheese. Chop the scallions into 1” pieces and place them, along with ⅔ of the ‘coins’ in an even layer over the crust. Carefully pour the egg mixture on top, keeping the vegetables in their place. Layer the remaining squash over the filling, then sprinkle with feta. Lastly, lay the tomato slices on top, pressing in slightly so they settle in. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until just set in the middle. Allow to rest for 20 minutes before cutting into it as it will further set up upon standing. Remove from pan and cut into six pieces for a main dish or eight for a side.

Vegetable Tart

I served mine with with side dishes of more farmers market veggies - a peppery arugula salad with fresh peaches & a balsamic dressing and teeny tiny red potatoes roasted with thyme, garlic and olive oil that I topped with creme fraiche. It was an incredibly delicious meal and the man of the house didn’t ask once where the meat was! If you find there are a few too many steps in this for you, feel free to use store-bought crust and just give your veggies a quick saute before placing in the tart. Make it work for you, using your favorite ingredients and flavors. Leftovers are great cold or room temperature for breakfast or lunch the next day too - win!

With a full heart and an empty plate,

Katie


 

A Trio of Autumn Soups

Trio of Autumn Soups

Yes, that's right, a trio. I went a little hog-wild with the soups because I am desperately seeking Fall and soup screams cozy-cool weather to me! I took my husband on an apple picking escapade to Julian, CA where I was able to pick up some beautiful squash at the farm stand, apple cider at the cider mill, and take home several pounds of apples and I wanted to come up with some great ways to use them! {More on my trip to come!} What better way to fill an 85-degree October day than with soup making?! Yes, I was wearing shorts and a tank top the whole time with fans blowing in every direction. I twisted up a classic tomato with some cider and black garlic, combined a new favorite ingredient (celery root!) with an ingredient I always thought I hated until recently (fennel!), and added a step (roasting!) to a favorite of mine, butternut squash soup. Without further ado, I give you 'A Trio of Autumn Soups':

Tomato-Cider Soup w. Sage Oil // Serves 10-12

2 T butter

4 fresh sage leaves, torn

1 large onion, diced (apx. 1 1/2 c)

3 cloves black garlic*, sliced

2 medium sweet-tart apples; peeled, cored, & sliced

8 oz caramelized tomato paste**

1 T Sriracha

1/2 c dry white wine (A not-too-fruity Chardonnay works well here)

44 oz canned San Marzano tomatoes (28 oz + 16 oz cans)

1 1/2 c fresh, raw unsweetened apple cider

2 1/2 c vegetable or chicken broth

1/2 c milk or cream

Salt & pepper

Sage oil for serving

*Black garlic is a fermented/caramelized/milder version of garlic. If you cannot find it (try Trader Joe's and Asian markets!), roast your garlic before using it, or in a pinch, just use 2 cloves sliced fresh garlic. It won't have that umami of the black garlic, but it will still be great!

**To caramelize tomato paste, heat 1 1/2 T olive oil in a small frying pan, add the whole 8oz can of tomato paste and cook & stir until the oil in incorporated and the paste caramelizes into a deep red

Melt butter in a large soup pot over medium heat, add onions and slowly sweat (covered, stirring occasionally) until onions are translucent but no browning has occurred; about 30 minutes. A few minutes before they finish, add garlic, sage, and a pinch of salt.

Add wine and cook 1-2 minutes, add apples and tomato paste and allow liquid to reduce by half.

Tomato-Cider Soup

Add tomatoes, cider, and broth, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 45 minutes. Add milk and simmer another 10. In batches, transfer soup to a Vitamix, and blend until smooth. Return to pan and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. The flavor should be slightly sweet, with a rich tomato flavor and a hint of heat. If possible, allow the flavors to meld for several hours over overnight before heating and serving. Drizzle sage oil on top for a little fancy flavor!

Sage Oil

1 c packed sage leaves

1/4 c olive oil

Blanch sage by plunging them into boiling water for 15-20 seconds, then immediately into an ice bath to stop any cooking. Drain leaves and dry well in paper towel. Give the leaves a rough chop and place in a blender or small food processor with the oil and blend at a medium speed until it's a nice consistency for drizzling. This should sit up to 24 hours to blend flavors and will keep for a week, tightly covered, in the fridge.

Celery Root & Fennel Soup

Cream of Celery Root & Fennel Soup // Serves 6

5 white peppercorns

1 small bay leaf

2 sprigs parsley

2 sprigs thyme

1 T butter

1 medium leek, light green & white parts only, halved, rinsed, & sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 c water

1 c vegetable or chicken broth

1 1/2 c peeled & 1/2" diced celery root (apx. 3/4 lb)

1 c sliced fennel bulb (1 small or 1/2 large)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp white pepper

1/4 c milk

2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Creme fraiche, for serving

Create a sachet d'Epices with the first four ingredients {place them in a square of cheesecloth and tie it up!} Set aside.

Melt butter in a large pot or Dutch oven, add leeks, cooking to soften, about 6-8 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add water, broth, celery root, fennel, salt, pepper, and sachet.

Sachet d'Epices

Bring to boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until celery is very tender, apx. 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool about 10 minutes. Remove sachet and blend remaining ingredients with an immersion blender or in batches in a Vitamix.

Return puréed soup to pot and taste for seasonings; you may add a little more broth here if it's too thick for your taste, but add it before adjusting the salt so you don't make it too salty. Bring soup to a simmer and stir in the lemon juice. Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche.

 

Roasted Winter Squash Soup // Serves 6-8

Roasted Squash:

2 lbs winter squash (I used 1 butternut and ½ an acorn)

1 tsp butter

¼ tsp nutmeg

Salt & pepper

Remaining Ingredients:

1 medium leek, light green & white parts only, halved, rinsed, & sliced (apx. 1 c)

1 T butter

4 c vegetable or chicken broth

1 tsp salt

8 fresh sage leaves, divided

1 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored & sliced

¼ tsp white pepper

1 bay leaf

Olive oil for fried sage garnish

Heat oven to 425 degrees; line sheet pan with foil. Using a sharp knife, carefully split the squash in half lengthwise; scoop out and reserve seeds. Place squash cut side up on pan and rinse the seeds clean of any ‘guts’. Melt 1 tsp butter and brush over the flesh of the squash; sprinkle with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Place the seeds on a small pan, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place both pans in oven and check on the seeds at about 20 minutes, and roast the squash 50 minutes - 1 hour, until fork-tender but not mushy. Allow to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, stack 4 sage leaves, roll them up, then slice thinly to create little ribbons; this is called a chiffonade. Set aside and repeat with remaining sage leaves, keeping them separate. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a soup pot over medium heat; add leeks and cook 3-4 minutes to soften. Add four of the sliced sage leaves, the apple, and ¾ tsp salt. Cook until the apples soften and the leeks begin to caramelize.

Scoop the flesh of the squash directly into the soup pot (I reserved half of my acorn squash and ate it as a snack!). Add broth, pepper, and bay leaf; stir and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce to low, simmer, stirring to break up and soften squash, about 25-30 minutes. As the soup simmers, heat 2 T olive oil in a small frying pan; separate and sprinkle in remaining four sliced sage leaves and fry until crispy but not brown. Transfer to paper towel and sprinkle with salt. {Tip: Reserve oil to brush on toasts for serving!} Once the squash is soft, remove bay leaf and process soup with an immersion blender until smooth. Taste for seasoning and add remaining salt if necessary. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with fried sage and toasted seeds to serve.

Roasted Winter Squash Soup

Each one of these soups has it's own distinct flavor, but they play together well. I think these were fantastic served together in small bowls as a starter, but each are great for a healthy, but hearty, lunch or dinner too. Feel free to use any type of dairy you like to adjust the richness, or leave out completely if that suits your family best! It's so fun to cook seasonally and discover new vegetables; as I mentioned above, I always thought I would hate fennel because it's described as having a licorice flavor which I detest. However, I tried it roasted and I liked it, so then I sliced it thinly for a salad and I like it, so I added to the celery root soup to balance out the flavors. It just goes to show you that you never know until you try! However, I continue to try olives in different forms and I still do not care for them...so it doesn't always work!!

With a full heart and an empty plate,

Katie