After a brutal winter which I thoroughly enjoyed, even tho I missed two of the biggest snowfalls we had D.C. because of travel, I’m so glad spring is here. With bits of snow flurries in-between summer like days and lovely 60F days, there is no doubt spring is here. Our bloomed and blown away cherry blossoms said so.
In all its glory, winter has the potential of being a somber season, filling us with dreary days of bitter cold and dry air. The natural elements we love to relish in the preceding season, wither away and become stale in their natural habitat. All that dryness and grey tone ambiance can most assuredly have an affect on our psyche, not to mention how we think out our physical activity and our eating habits. But spring is here! My excitement is not so much because I’m looking forward to warm or scorching weather allowing me to wear single and not triple layers of clothes; I’m mostly thrilled about the renewal of everything the season brings: New temperatures, renewed outlooks on life, seeds planted last year start to bloom, flowers flourish in the sunlight, and harvest of seasonal foods are abundant for the picking. That’s every bit of reason to be excited. A renewed diet to say the least.
I spent much of winter at home, with little travel, meaning I ate a lot of warm comfort food. Foods that just packed on my waistline but made me happy. Now I’m looking forward to foods that still make me happy but don’t add inches to any part of my body. Of course, staying active is a crucial aspect to that, but that’s a different story. Let’s focus on all new foods and ingredients we’ve been waiting to dig into.
Our farmers’ markets aren’t quite ready yet, but our grocers are bringing in the best of what’s already out there. If you read Flanboyant Eats, you know I go through this annual ‘I’m going to eat greens forevermore‘ commitment. I start with my woes of all the fantastic eating I did in the fall and winter all to realize I was completely negligent in having the necessary amount of vegetables. I’m so disappointed to report I’m not all the way there. I’ve gotten better, especially with recent love affair with brussel sprouts. Where have they been all my life?! No less, vegetables like that can easily excite me to get started on eating more. It’s obviously mind over matter.
But I’m equally falling in love with beets. Remember I was passionately not so in love with them in this vintage recipe? I started out very adamant about them. Lord, that has changed. They are quickly growing to be my favorite red thing. There is just so much you can do with the beetroot to ignore it. Experienced chef, home cook, apprentice, novice, or just curious — you need to get to know the beet really well.
It’s just a matter of knowing what to do with them. How to best enjoy them. Lately, I prefer to roast them. In my latest experiment, I wanted to dress them. My last dish shared here enticed me enough to pick them up again, but in a different way.
The dressing options my friends over at Marzetti® have, make eating all the vegetables I need much easier. Though I love and prefer to make my own simple dressings, most times, when I’m on the go, I simply don’t have time. Their inventory covers just about every flavor profile I like and would go for on my own. It’s such a win-win situation.
For my first spring fête I recently hosted at my parent’s house, the request, courtesy of my mother, was healthy but fast. Something she could modify and quickly refer to for later making when ever she desired. She’s not a huge greens fan so I had to be creative. And my father, being a master dressing maker, would have to be so in love with a pre-made dressing that avoiding a food debate between the two would be my biggest feat.
And so I ended with a few options for them to enjoy during my shindig and few others my mom could add to her stash. The go to highlight was a roasted beet and bleu cheese salad I’ve been dreaming of. After much tweaking, this turned out to be the hit. It touched every note I wanted and they needed to really enjoy. Cuz you know, my parents are such purists…. breaking from what they’ve known their whole lives is so heard. Especially when it comes from me. They’re still not used to the idea of me cooking professionally and actually treating them to fabulous meals. But again, that’s another story.
So this salad is my everything right now.
It’s full of fiber, lends to be a great source of potassium, and embodies plain wonderful flavors we all can look forward to.
I’ve been tweaking it for a week or so now and finally settled on a great lightweight, but heart-satifying version that’ll have you printing this and pinning it to your fridge. Or the new way — on Pinterest.
I’m not a fan of over-dressed salads. I know some are — which alway fascinates me. I always ask for my dressing on the side if I’m dining out. But when I’m making one at home, I’m in complete control of portions. I’d rather err on the side of a lesser amount I can add more later to, if it’s not enough. And with Marzetti® Honey French, the flavor is so powerfully on point, you don’t need a 1/4 cup full to get the flavor and moisture for a salad. In this case, the flavors of the salad ingredients are complex on their own, you don’t want to over do it. But, the right amount of dressing complements them perfectly. The roasted beets benefit the most, though a drizzle of the dressing on the bleu cheese sweetly cuts the aroma and slight bitterness. It was divinely perfect.
With all the summer vegetables uprooting, I’m looking to making a plethora of salads, cold dishes, sandwiches, etc… to make my summer eating lighter, healthier, and simpler. With salads at my fore and high on my priority list, the Marzetti dressing lineup come in so handy. Since I played around with perfecting this salad, I considered a few other dressings that’d work. If you can’t find the Honey French in your local store (like me… I had to order it), their Simply Dressed Ginger Sesame dressing is lovely but adds a completely different flavor profile. And instead of bleu cheese, I’d sub it for Manchego, which paired nicely.
See, the possibilities this season are just about endless. You just have to think outside the box and not be afraid to try new ingredients and flavors. Easy foods make for easy nights. And anticipating easy nights free up to the mind to be creative.
*I have been invited to participate in a Marzetti® ambassador program. This post is sponsored by Marzetti and product has been provided by them. I appreciate you checking out the brands that help keep my lights on, shoes looking fancy, and SkyMiles racked up! Eat well, love hard.
Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.
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ROASTED BEET AND PEAR SALAD WITH BLUE CHEESE AND HONEY FRENCH DRESSING
- 2 medium beets, cubed
- 1 Bosc pear apples, thinly sliced in half
- 1/2 cup walnuts, halved
- 1/4 cup bleu cheese
- 3 Tbsp. honey french dressing
- 8-10 mint leaves,
- juice from 1/2 lime
- sea salt to taste
Set oven to 400F. Rinse and scrub beets really well. Blanch in salted water for 10 minutes. Rinse in cold water but reserve water. Slightly pat try. Cut each beet in half. Wrap in aluminum foil. Place on cookie sheet. Roast for 30 minutes. While beets are roasting, toast walnuts in small skillet. Do not allow to burn.
Drain beets in colander. Let cool enough to peel. Cut into 1/2″ cubes. In medium bowl, add 1 tablespoon beet water, lime juice, and Marzetti Honey French dressing. In medium blow, toss in with beets.
To plate, arrange pear slices on each side of large place. Arrange beets in center of plate. Top with walnuts, bleu cheese and mint leaves.