David and I attended the Slow Food 25-mile Thanksgiving Dinner celebration again this year joining a larger group of like-minded individuals who enjoy the process of preparing and celebrating food through community. It was years ago that I became intrigued with the “Slow Food” movement. A non-profit member supported association, it was started in Italy in 1989 to counter the rise of fast food and fast life which resulted in the disappearance of local food traditions separating people from the taste and healthful benefits of good food and good community. New Hampshire has it own chapters and the seacoast group puts on this event; they roast the locally grown turkeys and we were each challenged to bring a dish that was prepared from local ingredients all within a 25 mile range of where we live. That was easy living in Canterbury; however this year I embellished a bit with my flavoring.
Since we were attending the event 58 miles from home and after a day of seeing clients, I did all my prep ahead of time. This ahead-of-time technique is great for any busy person or any celebratory meal that has lots of parts to it. I was inspired by the colors of copper and claret so here is my recipe for Roasted Vegetable Citrus Salad with Blue Cheese Buttermilk Cider Dressing.
Prepare and store each vegetable separately then assemble at the last-minute:
- Rinse then peel, then rinse again 1 1/2 lbs. of red beets. I got my beets here in town at Brookford Farm.
- Cut then into like-sized chunks. Put into a roasting pan then toss with a small drizzle of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper then roast at 375º for about 30 minutes – stirring once – until a knife inserts easily. Cool and refrigerate until ready to assemble the salad.
- Wash and lightly peel 1 1/2 lbs. of carrots. Cut into like-sized rounds for even cooking and put into a cooking pot with 1 cup of orange juice (1/4 cup concentrate + 3/4 cup water) and simmer with the lid off for 5 – 6 minutes until they are slightly tender. If you can find any of the variety that has the burgundy exterior – Purple Haze, Maroon, etc – add a few in with your orange and yellow selection to enhance this copper & claret color scheme. I purchased my carrots at the Canterbury Farmers Market.
- Remove your carrots from the remaining liquid with a slotted spoon then add 1/4 cup orange juice concentrate and boil the mixture over medium heat until the liquid has reduced, is deep colored and coats the back of a spoon. Stir in the grated zest of one orange then toss the carrots into the syrup, lightly salt them and turn out onto a plate to cool.
- Cut up several apples of your choice into like-sized pieces then toss them in a mixture of the juice of one lemon and 2T. of orange juice concentrate; drain and refrigerate. This keeps them from turning brown and enhances the citrus flavor of the salad. I used Golden Gem apples because I like their copper/russet color and they taste like a cross between pears and apples. I purchased mine at Apple Hill Orchard in east Concord.
- Blue Cheese Buttermilk Cider Dressing:
- With a fork, smash and crumble 6oz. of any blue cheese. I used Brookford Farms raw milk blue cheese.
- Stir in 1/2 cup cultured buttermilk [note: “cultured” is the real deal buttermilk ONLY available through local farm sources or natural food stores. What is sold in the supermarket is not really buttermilk at all. A true cultured buttermilk adds a thickness and nutritional value for your gut and tastes incredible.] I got mine at Brookford Farms.
- Also stir in 1/4 cup apple cider, 1 tsp walnut oil, 3 or so grinds of black pepper and 1/4 tsp salt. My cider came from Apple Hill Orchard in east Concord.
- Use an immersion blender if desired to smooth out the mixture. Chill.
Assembling the salad; Create a bed a of rinsed and chopped kale then layer the beets, carrots and apples in any method you find pleasing. Sprinkle chopped walnuts and a few pomegranate seeds on top to add color and crunch. I scooped out the insides of two apples and used them to hold the dressing. Enjoy! Please feel free to share this recipe. All publication rights of any kind are reserved, however.
It is said that “gratitude is knowing that we have enough”
…and for those of us that do, let us take on the role of care takers.
Heirloom plants are our cultural inheritance.
They have been handed down to us from a time before chemical agriculture.
…from a time with a much greater diversity of flavor, texture, color and nutrition.
From a time when all of our food was nurtured and grown with love.
If carefully tended, these seeds will be a part of our future.
A gift we safe-keep for generations to come.
A garden teaches us that with something as small as a seed, we can preserve a democracy, we can engage a child, we can nourish a family, we can protect our environment, challenge a flawed system, preserve our cultural inheritance…and savor the difference.
So let us raise our glasses in a toast,
to the farmer,
to the soil,
to the seasons
…and to the seed of change planted right here in good community!
John Forti; board chair Slow food Seacoast
Last week-end David and I were awed and blessed to attend the 5th annual Heirloom Harvest Barn Dinner in Stratham, New Hampshire. Organized by the Slow Food Seacoast organization, it was a delicious tribute to eating local organic heirloom foods, to the farmers that help feed us and to the passion for living a life of intention.
We were surrounded by interesting people of like minds; the Ivy League educated home gardener, the bent over old-ways farmer, the gleaming parents of a young chef, the thoughtful artist….held in the barn of Meadow Mirth Farm, it was a totally magical evening. The chefs hailed from all the most trendy restaurants and were challenged to create a dish using signature ingredients; this year beets were reigning. This year was also vegetarian and no one seemed to miss the meat.
Here are some Iphone photos of the evening and please read the beautiful tribute at the end given by the equally beautiful 13-year-old daughter Eleanor of chef/owners Evan and Denise Mallett from Black Trumpet restaurant in Portsmouth. Bon appetit!
My name is Eleanor Mallett and I am in love with food. My brother Cormac and I were born and raised to respect what we eat.
I love the barn dinner because it brings together the farmers, chefs, and eaters-of-the-food around the same table, to celebrate our food and all that went into it. It is a spectacular thing to be able to know the people who grow the food that is on my plate at dinner time. After all… it takes a village to raise a Jimmy Nardello Pepper, if you know what I mean.
This is an incredible evening. But, look around the room. How many kids do you see here? Thats right, not many. Almost 74 million Americans are under 18 years old.
I am here to tell you all, that if my generation does not know about food biodiversity or the importance of understanding where our food comes from, then all of your work is lost.
Tell your friends, tell your family, tell your children and your grandchildren. Spread the knowledge that you have learned –> to us kids.
We want to make an impact on the future.
The children of today are the producers of tomorrow. We need farmers, we need buyers, we need seed savers, we need home cooks, educators, leaders, chefs, and consumers. It takes all of our voices — and choices! — to make a difference. Thank you.