Roasted Beet Salad With An Orange Vinaigrette

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This last year I have blamed Wyoming for my bad days, struggles and discontent.  I don’t write about those feelings much, because my words are greatly inspired by my kitchen endeavors, and when I am in that space those unwanted feelings seem to dissipate.  But still, they exist, and my uneasy feelings re-fuel as I wash my dishes, break my most favorite, and breathe through the high pitch screaming of my sweetest little lady.  I have often pondered if maybe Octave doesn’t like Wyoming either.

I have blamed Wyoming for my lethargic tired body, because if I were anyway else, I would have access to Bikram Yoga, which always makes me feel alive and well.  I have blamed Wyoming for not growing my own food. Does anything good grow in the high desert? I have even blamed Wyoming on our financial struggle this last year, because if we lived almost anywhere else, my husbands job would give us the opportunity to not only pay our bills each month, but also tackle our college debt.  Looking back it seems that over the last year, I have blamed Wyoming for everything under the sun.  Even the mysterious rat roaming our incredibly clean kitchen, was because of this place.  I know it sounds ridiculous but I would be dishonest if I made myself sound more rational and less dramatic.  I now laugh at the eighteen year old me, fresh off the boat in New York City, proudly proclaiming that I could live anywhere.  I am learning that what I meant was, I could live anywhere I CHOOSE.

There has been something profound to leaving my reality, stepping outside my routine and space and going back to my roots in the NW.  The last few weeks have been filled with family and friends that have helped me feel rooted and helped me to see the big picture.  Even more, being around these lively people, cherished places, and memory filled things, has unveiled all the change that has stirred inside these bones.

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In a place I feared I would cave, conform yet not ever fit in, and live a horribly boring life, is in fact the place I have gone against the grain, found like minded people to grow with, and started an incredibly brave adventure living car free.  Wyoming, is where I discovered how I want to live the rest of my life; intentional, simple, slow, and more self-sufficient.  Wyoming is where I uncovered meaning in the kitchen and started this food blog.   It is where Octave tried her first foods and where I tried my hand at a many first foods from scratch.  It is where I tried and failed five times at French macaroons, yet mastered many rustic loaves of bread.   It is where I rediscovered my love for words and where I created something from nothing.  This is something to be proud of, and something to build on.

Six weeks away has given me new eyes and a new heart.  The last place in the world I ever thought I would find myself is where I can now see I have found a very big part of myself.  I can’t be so bold as to say I love our town, and I am still just as bummed I can’t practice Bikram yoga or have a beautiful garden I dream of, or pay off debt quickly.  I am bummed the one restaurant we liked just closed and not one single grocer in town sells creme fraiche.  I am still  bummed that we have yet to find a pediatrician who will see our unvaccinated babe without charging an arm and a leg, and then make me feel like my long and thought out parenting choices are a form of child abuse.  Most of all I am bummed we are not near our family and dearest friends.  The list of bummers could continue but they won’t, because really all these things I am bummed about, excluding being near family, are only luxuries to begin with.  I am now able to acknowledge what Wyoming gave me this last year.  I am grateful to have been planted in the most unassuming, unexpected place in the world and still be able to unfold, discover, and flourish. I am grateful that this heart has been made new.  So, we eat beets to detox and cleanse not only our bodies, but for our hearts and minds.  We are leaving our bummers behind, and waiting VERY impatiently for our cargo bike to arrive, and for our new adventure to begin!

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Serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side

Dressing

1 cup orange juice reduced to 1/3 cup

2 ½ tsp. olive oil

1 ½ tsp. balsamic vinegar

¼ tsp. sea salt

Zest of 1 whole orange

1 tsp. raw honey

Salad

4 beets, Red&Golden

4 cups of mixed greens

½ red onion, thinly sliced

½ cup toasted sliced almonds

¼ cup feta or other favorite crumbly cheese

Preheat oven to 425.  To prepare the beets you can either peel before, or after they are cooked.  A lot of people recommend waiting until after but I have found it is easier to do so before.  Place beets in a large piece of foil, drizzle with olive oil, and place in a baking dish.  Roast beets for 45 minutes or until tender.  Place a fork in the middle and if it pulls out smooth and easy, they are done.

Let cool. Slice beets into wedges.

In a small saucepan, simmer orange juice over medium heat and whisk often.  It may take 10-15 minutes to reduce your juice to 1/3 cup.  Let cool.  Place all dressing ingredients in a food processor or blender and mix well.

To assemble salad, place greens on a large platter.  Pour a little bit of dressing over the greens and using your hands make sure all leaves are dressed. Place beets, onions, almonds and cheese on top of the greens and drizzle with dressing.

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