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A platter of roasted chicken and autumn bread salad.

Here's a recipe I'm quite proud of: Roasted Chicken + Autumn Bread Salad. A quickly-roasted chicken delivers its juices to butternut squash, whole sweet shallots, and tart apples roasting beside it on a sheet pan. Peppery arugula in a light dressing mix with vinegar-soaked golden raisins and crispy-chewy toasted bread chunks make a lovely autumn panzanella-style salad that make a bed for the chicken and deeply flavored vegetables. It's all you need on one platter. I can't think of a better Saturday night or Sunday afternoon cool-weather dinner.

This roasted chicken and autumn bread salad borrows inspiration from the late Judy Rodgers, generous traditionalist and exemplary restaurateur. And golly, is it good.

a platter of rosted chicken and autumn bread salad with a bottle of wine.

The Inspiration for Roasted Chicken + Autumn Bread Salad

First let me tell you about the chicken Ms. Rodgers made famous at the Zuni Cafe in San Francisco. At Zuni, whole, small chickens are roasted in a wood-fired brick oven. The juicy, crackly-skinned chicken is served with a warm bread salad. At Zuni, chunks of hand-torn toasted bread, scallions, garlic, bitter greens, dried currants, and pine nuts are tossed in a light vinaigrette. When you experience this dish, it becomes the gold standard for all roasted chicken. And the craveable bread salad is just as good.

Until now, my go-to method of roasting chicken has been the Zuni Cafe way. Ms. Rodger's way. I pat the chicken dry and give it a dry rub of salt and pepper. Then, I loosely wrap it and put in the fridge for two days before roasting. The chicken skin dries in the refrigerated air, setting it up for crispness. Then on roasting day I set into a hot skillet and rush into a very hot oven. A series of flips mid-roast, and viola! The most crispy-skinned and juicy chicken ever. Put this roasted chicken together with a seasonal bread salad-- oh my!

Sometimes I haven't planned this out well, or don't have the time or energy for these steps but still would love a roasted chicken. Hmmm. What could I do about that?

Ditching the two-day dry brine period and shortening the overall cooking time with our unique preparation method is a great advantage for the home cook. And it still turns out a chicken that is almost as wonderful as the Zuni style.

How Can I Roast a Chicken Without Drying Out the White Meat?

It's easy to end up with dry white meat when roasting a chicken, and yet so easy to prevent it! By separating the breast and wing section from the leg and thigh section, we give the legs and thighs a 15-minute head start in the oven, sparing the white meat from overcooking. I call this a major kitchen coup!

The best tool for working with a whole chicken is kitchen shears. Get yourself a good pair. Poor quality shears need to be replaced frequently, so make this investment up front when you can. This is the pair I recommend for its value. You can spend more, but these are very good and will last.

With this method we use our kitchen shears to easily separate the breast and wing section from the rest of the bird. We start by separating the breast from the legs in two quick "vee" cuts. Then we flip the breast section upwards like a page in a legal pad. From there, it's very simple to separate the front from the back of the bird at the shoulders.

Preparing the chicken for the oven.

Match Your Roasted Chicken and Bread Salad to the Season

Roasted winter squash, celery, apple, golden raisins, tons of shallot, and arugula make this a fall-into-winter salad. In the spring and summer, swap those things out for fresh peas or sauteed zucchini, blistered cherry tomatoes, lots of fresh herbs, scallions, and torn mustard greens for a lighter taste. Use what is in season, and the rest remains the same. No matter what time of year, be sure to use garlic confit if you can. It's is always in season!

The ingredients necessary tomake roasted chicken and autumn bread salad.
Ingredients. Not pictured, bread and arugula.

Have you joined the 101-Mile Kitchen community? If not, we'd love to have you. You can take care of that right here, and when you do I'll send you my Top Five Tips and Recipes for Cool-Weather Cooking downloadable as a thank you!

This post contains affiliate links. When you use these links to buy something I may earn a commission at no cost to you. Product affiliation helps me to keep this site ad-free while providing you with the content you enjoy. I only promote items that I use, like, and trust, or would invest in myself.

A platter of roasted chicken and autumn bread salad.

Roasted Chicken + Autumn Bread Salad

Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Italian, Pacific Northwest
Season: Bounty (August - October), Mist (November - March)
Dietary: Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free
Preparation: Roasting, Sheet Pan
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 minute
Author: Pam Spettel
Chicken roasted in a way to ensure moist white meat, along with a luscious seasonal bread salad makes an autumnal one-platter meal.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 3½-4½ lb. whole fresh chicken
  • fresh thyme, sage, and rosemary
  • 1 lb. winter squash, peeled and cut into 1" cubes like butternut, honeynut, red kuri, kabocha, or pumpkin
  • 1 lb. shallots, peeled, large ones cut in half
  • 4 stalks celery, scrubbed and sliced into ¾" pieces remove and reserve and leafy parts
  • 12 ounces firm baking apple, cut into 1" cubes
  • ½ cup garlic confit, or ½ cup olive oil and 12 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons golden raisins
  • ½ cup celery, white wine, or sherry vinegar I use Spoiled Rotten Vinegar brand celery vinegar

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 425°. Place one oven rack in the upper third of the oven, and one in the lower third. Wipe the chicken dry. Using kitchen shears, and the chicken breast-side up and legs pointed to you, cut along the bottom edges of the breast upwards toward the wing on each side, following the natural "vee" shape. Fold the breast upward (like flipping a page of a legal pad). Press down to flatten the chicken. Use the shears to separate the breast/wing section from the backbone and neck.
  • Sprinkle both bird sections liberally with salt and pepper. Place the leg/thigh section on the baking sheet and put several sprigs of thyme, a sprig of sage, and a sprig of rosemary under it. Place the baking sheet on the lower oven rack for 15 minutes.
  • Prep the vegetables and apple while the legs/thighs are roasting. Place them in a bowl, salt and pepper to taste, and add the garlic confit (or olive oil and garlic cloves) and toss well to coat the vegetables in oil and set it aside.
  • After the first 15 minute roast, place the chicken breast/wing section on the baking sheet with herbs underneath and roast for another 15 minutes. While this is happening, place the golden raisins in a small dish and cover them with the vinegar. Set aside.
  • After the second 15 minute roast, place the prepared vegetable mixture all around the chicken on the baking sheet, distributing them evenly. Place the baking sheet back in the oven for another 15 minutes.
  • During this 15 minute roast, tear the bread into uneven bite-sized chunks onto a small baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Toss the bread pieces well. Place the bread pieces in the oven on the upper rack for 6-8 minutes. Remove from the oven and toss, then if necessary, return to the oven for another few minutes. You are looking for a mix of crunch and tender bits, some browning and crispy bits, and some that will be softer. This step is very dependent on your own oven, so please watch carefully to avoid burning!
  • When the chicken reaches 160° at the thickest part of the thigh and breast, it is done. Remove from the oven to rest before cutting it into serving pieces.
  • In a large bowl (I use the same bowl that the vegetables were in) place the toasted bread chunks, arugula, another swirl of olive oil, and the golden raisins and their vinegar. Toss well and spread the bread salad on a platter. Spoon the roasted vegetables and all the pan juices onto the bread salad.
  • Use the kitchen shears to separate the chicken into 2 legs, two thighs, two wings, and two breasts. Use a heavy knife to cut the breast pieces in half, resulting in 4 chicken breast pieces. Arrange the ckien over the vegetables and serve.
looking down on an apple olive oil cake surrounded by apples.

This Apple Olive Oil Cake, of all the rustic cakes I swoon over, is my very most favorite. It can be called rustic merely because it is not adorned in buttercream, an accessory that would only complicate its simplicity. Fragrant olive oil in the batter marries beautifully with orange zest, cracked cardamom seed, and pure vanilla. I am delighted the lack of cinnamon normally found in apple desserts. Am I the only one who tires of overwhelming the pure taste of apple with cinnamon?

What Varieties of Apples are Best for This Cake?

Tom Murray, my friend and orchardist who specializes in apples at his SLO Farm (seasonal, local, organic), suggested that I try his Liberty variety. He said that its sharp flavor would balance the sweet cake, and he was right. Other varieties that are tart and hold up to baking are Pink Lady, Jonathan, Mutsu, and good old Granny Smith. Any of these will be perfect in this apple cake.

Tom sells his apples at the Lane County Farmers Market in Eugene, Oregon. Please look for him there, and try all of his lovely apple varieties.

Looking at a piece of apple olive oil cake studded with apples.
Extra apples in the batter make it extra moist and extra delicious.

About This Apple Olive Oil Cake

This recipe originated with Rachel Coyle, published by Food & Wine Magazine. I've made it so many times that I've added some of my own riffs. I've found that the batter can easily old 50% more apples than in the original recipe. So in goes 1½ pounds, weighed before peeling and coring, for more appley goodness.

Cakes made with olive oil have become popular for good reason. The texture becomes more like a sponge cake, very moist and tender, but with structure. If you've yet to try the taste phenomenon of the olive oil/sugar combo, you are in for a real treat. A fruity olive oil is great for this, of course. Stonehouse Olive Oil's house blend, my house olive oil, works wonderfully in this recipe. I buy it in 9-liter quantities a few times a year.

looking down on an applie olive oil cake surrounded by apples.

Choosing a Pan for this Cake

Rachel Coyle's original recipe says to use a 14-cup Bundt-style pan, and I've learned there are more great pan options for the apple olive-oil cake. A 9" springform pan creates a gorgeously tall round cake; a tube pan makes an even taller cake with a hole in the center that I really like; and I often divvy up the batter between three 6" round cake pans that serve six people each. This is perfect for our smaller household, as the cakes freeze perfectly. So handy! Please note that as of this publication date, Sur La Table is offering a 20% off sale on each of these pans, and on all of their bakeware! Just in time for holiday baking. Sur La Table only sells high-quality products that I always trust.

Other Rustic Cakes I Think You'll Love

Flourless Walnut Cake, plain, coffee, or spice versions: Recipe here.
Zingy Lemon Ginger Zucchini Cake: Recipe here.

This post contains affiliate links. When you use these links to buy something I may earn a commission at no cost to you. Product affiliation helps me to keep this site ad-free while providing you with the content you enjoy. I only promote items that I use, like, and trust, or would invest in myself.

Ingredients needed to make apple olive oil cake.

Have you joined the 101-Mile Kitchen community? If not, we'd love to have you. You can take care of that right here, and when you do I'll send you my Top Five Tips and Recipes for Cool-Weather Cooking downloadable as a thank you!

looking down on an applie olive oil cake surrounded by apples.

Apple Olive Oil Cake

Course: Breakfast + Brunch, Dessert
Season: Bounty (August - October), Mist (November - March)
Dietary: Nut-Free, Vegetarian
Preparation: Baking
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Cooling Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 35 minutes
Servings: 12 to16
Author: Adapted from Rachel Coyle of Food & Wine Magazine
This apple olive oil cake is moist and light, studded with chunks of apple, and fragrant with cardamom, orange, vanilla, and, of course, the olive oil itself. This recipe will have you tossing all others aside, forever and ever. It's that special.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • Unsalted butter for greasing the pan
  • 1⅔ cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons cardamom seeds, crushed in a mortal and pestle or 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2⅓ cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • pounds tart firm apples, peeled and diced into ⅓" pieces Granny Smith, Jonagold, Liberty, Pink Lady, Mutsu are all very good for this
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Generously grease and flour a 9" springform pan, a 14-cup Bundt-style pan or tube pan, or three 6" round cake pans**. Crush cardamom seeds in a mortar and pestle until finely crushed, if using, and set aside.
  • Place the granulated sugar, eggs, egg yolks, and salt in the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Whisk in the cardamom, orange zest, and vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • With mixer running on medium speed, gradually add olive oil in a slow, steady stream, slowly pour as necessary to ensure oil is fully incorporated. If the oil is pooling, simple stop the flow and continue whipping until it is incorporated, and then continue adding the rest. At this stage, you will have an emulsion that is a bit fluffy, but somewhat thin.
  • Remove the mixing bowl from the stand. Using a course-mesh strainer or a sifter, sift the flour and baking powder over the egg mixture. Use a rubber spatula to fold the flour mixture in until almost completely incorporated. Add the apples, and fold just until combined. Gently pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  • Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown and a long wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour, turning the pan in the oven about halfway through. Allow the cake to sit 10-15 minutes, then the invert it onto a wire cooking rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours, then sift the powdered sugar over the top. Serve with vanilla ice cream, in a puddle of Creme Anglaise, or whipped cream.

Notes

** Bear in mind that the smaller the pan, the shorter the cooking time. If you decide to use the 6" cake pans, start checking for doneness at the 25-minute point. 

A platter of grains, grapes, and greens pilaf

Today I'm teaching my community how to make this wonderful warm autumn grains, grapes, and greens pilaf. Our phenomenal Lane County Farmers Market has hosted a series of cooking demonstrations generously funded by the Upper Willamette Soil and Water Conservation District. Some fabulous local chefs have been smashing it up with their demos all summer long. And today, it's me, a professional home cook sharing with the crowd. I'm extremely honored to be among this group of people, making our local foods more accessible to our community, and adding value to those shopping at our market.

About This Grains, Grapes and Greens Pilaf

With the exception of olive oil, salt, and pepper, every single ingredient in this dish was purchased at the farmers market. My intent in developing today's recipe was to stuff it full of local ingredients, spotlighting ingredients that abound at the market today and the growers and producers who bring them to us. This very moment. This exact week of this exact season. I wanted my dish to taste like Oregon at this very moment. There is a good chance that many of these ingredients will give you that "terroir", or sense of place, if you live in the northern hemisphere. If you live down under, file this away for your autumn cooking next April.

Grains, grapes, and greens pilaf on a platter.

Grains, Grapes, and Greens is a Seasonally Flexible Recipe

This recipe rendition captures autumn, with grapes coming ripe and wintery greens, still tender and young, just now coming to market. Grains are enduring-- we enjoy them throughout the year. Here are some change-ups you might make with this idea, no matter the season:

  • Replace the grapes with apples, firm pears, or segmented citrus. In the summer, blueberries, pitted cherries, and diced stone fruit will work wonderfully.
  • Rotate through barley, wheat berries, farro, freekeh, and the array of colorful rices-- black, brown, red, and purple. They all work perfectly as the base for this type of warm salad or pilaf.
  • What nuts grow in your area? We're famous for our hazelnuts here in Oregon. As a matter of fact, we grow 99% of the U.S. hazelnut crop. Use whatever nut you have or love. Almonds, pecans, and walnuts are equally good here. Even pine nuts, really a seed, not a nut, would be wonderful.
  • Whatever hearty, sauté-able green you can put your hands on would be fantastic. Kales, chards, collards, mustards, dandelions, nettles, and arugulas are the first ones that come to mind. Swap at your whim, or whatever is available. Today I'm using rainbow chard-- look at its vibrant colors!
Rainbow chard adds some dazzling color to the pilaf.

Another Recipe Using Grains You Might Like

Roasted Mushroom, Grain + Spinach Salad: Recipe here.

All the ingredients needed for grains, grapes, and greens recipe.

Have you joined the 101-Mile Kitchen community? If not, we'd love to have you. You can take care of that right here, and when you do I'll send you my Top Five Tips and Recipes for Cool-Weather Cooking downloadable as a thank you!

a platter of warm grains, grapes, and greens pilaf

Autumn Grains, Grapes and Greens Pilaf

Course: Main Dish, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Pacific Northwest
Season: Bounty (August - October), Mist (November - March)
Dietary: Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Vegan
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4 main course servings
Author: Pam Spettel
Warm grains like barley, farro, or brown rice, gently sauteed greens, and juicy just harvested grapes and a quick in-the-skillet vinaigrette make this dazzling Pacific Northwest-centric pilaf sparkle. Or, use it as a warm salad. Either way, healthy never tasted so good.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup hulled barley, farro, or brown rice +see note about hulled and pearled barley
  • 1 bunch greens such as kale, Swiss chard, collards, or mustard
  • 1 small shallot, peeled and diced
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and minced or crushed
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 tablespoons roasted barley vinegar, apple vinegar, or white wine vinegar
  • 2 cups seedless table grapes, cut in halve if large
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Instructions

  • Cook the grains pasta style: Rinse the grains and place them in a medium saucepan and fill the pan with at least 6 cups of water. Add a healthy pinch of salt and stir. Bring to a boil, stir again, and adjust the heat to a slowly bubbling simmer. Cook for 45 - 60 minutes or until the barley is plump and tender. Drain well.
  • While the barley is simmering, wash the greens and remove the stems. Slice the stems into ½" pieces. stack the leaves on top of each other, and roll the stack into a long cigar shape. Slice through the roll first lengthwise, and then into 1" pieces.
  • In a large skillet, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes. Add the cut greens to the pan and saute, stirring every minute or two, until the greens have become tender and soft. Salt and pepper the greens to taste (about 1 teaspoon salt, 1/3 teaspoon pepper).
  • Stir in the warm grains and the vinegar. Taste and adjust the seasoning if you'd like. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in about half the grapes.
  • Place the warm pilaf in serving bowl or platter. Top with the remaining grapes and the crushed hazelnuts. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes

+ Jane Touzalin of The Washington Post says it best.
"Hulled barley, considered a whole grain, has had just the indigestible outer husk removed. It’s darker in color and has a little bit of a sheen. Pearled barley, also called pearl barley, is not a whole grain and isn’t as nutritious. It has lost its outer husk and its bran layer, and it has been polished. It has a lighter, more matte appearance."
They can be used interchangeably. However, hulled barley is a more nutritious whole grain and also holds its shape better is soups and stews. Hulled barley takes up to an hour to cook, whereas the pearled kind cooks in about 30-45 minutes. 
Platter of Roasted fig-glazed winter squash

Is it possible to be glum in the presence of orange things, like this autumn sunset-hued roasted fig-glazed winter squash? As autumn comes knocking, this three-ingredient wonder is a cheery and scrumptious welcome to the cool-weather cooking season.

Like an oven being lit, my imaginative cooking fires are lit by trying new ingredients. This little recipe started when I was recently introduced to blackstrap vinegar. At our farmers market, I met Klee and Cherie Wiles-Pearson of Spoiled Rotten Vinegar who make, among other vinegar, the award-winning blackstrap vinegar used in this dish. They appropriately call it "One American's retort to Italy's aged Balsamic." Blackstrap molasses makes it full-bodied, rich, and sweet, and it works in most applications where one would normally reach for Balsamic. One sip of this living food and I am forever hooked.

hand holding bottle of vinegar with horse label

Klee ferments and bottles Spoiled Rotten Vinegar's distinctive vinegars. Cherie designs the beautiful, information-filled labels that highlight the work of local artists. The charming Spoiled Rotten Vinegar bottles are not made to be hidden behind cupboard doors.

Ways to Use Your Fig-Glazed Squash

Besides straight-up out of the oven, here are other some ways to put this fig-glazed winter squash to work from now until spring.

  • Lay the roasted rings over a bed of cooked barley, farro, wild rice, quinoa, etc. that has been mixed with olive-oil-cooked onion and perhaps chopped parsley. Drizzle the whole thing with the glaze.
  • For a salad, put the roasted squash on a bed of slivered kale that has been tossed in a spoonful of the glaze and sprinkle on chopped toasted hazelnuts.
  • Tuck halved or quartered figs in and around the squash for a lovely fall touch.
  • Utilize the heat of your oven and make fig-glazed squash alongside a roasted chicken, turkey breast, pork loin, or pork tenderloin. They are delicious together, and energy efficient this way!
  • Try the glazed squash in a rice bowl, along with some browned tofu or leftover protein.
plate of roasted fig-glazed winter squash

Tips for Preparing Winter Squashes

What variety of winter squash wouldn't be lovely in this recipe? I am wildly fond of the Red Kuri variety, not only because of its red-orange luminosity, but also because it cooks to a silky texture without falling apart. Kabocha squash is similar. And don't forget Delicata, which offers a yellow contrast and is a great little squash, too. Except for butternut, none of the varieties listed in the recipe below require peeling. Their skins soften equally to the flesh when roasted.

Scrub winter squash and then microwave it for 2 minutes or so on high power before cutting into it. This allows the knife to slide through the squash more easily. I think it makes scooping the seeds out a little easier, too.

Making the Fig-Glazed Winter Squash

Above all, don't give up on this recipe if you can't find blackstrap vinegar. Dark Balsamic is a worthy substitute.

Where are fig jams, spreads, or butters found? Many grocery stores that have a gourmet-style cheese section carry fig jam, spread, or butter. Ask there. Trader Joe's fig butter is good and is generally the most affordable. I keep a jar or two of it around for cheese boards and cheesy paninis. You may also find it in the jams and jellies section of your grocery. This is the fig spread I'm using at the moment, and it is excellent.

The density of the glaze is dependant on the particular fig jam, spread, or butter you use. If your glaze is so thick that it doesn't drizzle off your mixing spoon, thin it with a tablespoon or so of water. You want it just loose enough to drizzle in a thin ribbon. If you happen to thin it too much, just reduce the fig/vinegar mixture back down in a small saucepan over medium heat for a few minutes.

Save any glaze leftovers and use it in a salad dressing. With a little olive oil added, it is terrific on a leafy salad with apples, chopped dried figs, and some toasted nuts.

Store leftover fig-glazed squash tightly covered in the fridge. Then rewarm it gently in a microwave oven or a toaster oven.

Another Great Recipe Using Winter Squash

Warm Spinach Salad +Pancetta Dressing; recipe here.

This post contains affiliate links, including but not limited to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. When you use these links to buy something I may earn a commission at no cost to you. Product affiliation helps me to keep this site ad-free while providing you with the content you enjoy. I only promote items that I use, like, and trust, or would invest in myself.

platter of roasted fig-glazed winter squash

Roasted Fig-Glazed Winter Squash

Course: Salad, Side Dish
Season: Bounty (August - October), Mist (November - March)
Dietary: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Vegan
Preparation: Roasting
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4
Author: Pam Spettel
Roasted winter squashes get the royal treatment with a 2-ingredient tangy figgy glaze. Serve warm as a veggie side, or room temp as a winter salad.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds winter squash, one variety, or a colorful mix red kuri, delicata, acorn, butternut, kabocha, Hubbard, etc. (this was one medium delicata and one small red kuri)
  • olive oil, a drizzle
  • 3 tablespoons fig jam or spread, prepared
  • 3 tablespoons blackstrap vinegar or dark balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼-½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400° convection roast. Scrub the squash, cut them in half, and remove the seeds. Slice the squash into ½" slices. In the case of Butternut squash, slice the sold neck pieces in half. Lay the squash slices on a silicone mat-lined or parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon olive oil over the squash, and lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 10 minutes.
  • While the squash is beginning to roast, mix the fig jam, blackstrap or balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Add up to 1 tablespoon of water to the mix to make it thin enough to drip from the spoon.
  • After the squash has roasted for ten minutes, bring it out of the oven and flip each piece over. Drizzle the slices with about half of the fig glaze mixture. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°, and roast for another 10-12 minutes, until the squash is browned in spots, fork-tender and somewhat translucent in color, and the glaze has thickened. Watch this closely toward the end so the glaze doesn't burn.
  • Arrange the squash rings and/or slices on a serving platter. Drizzle a few more spoonsful of the reserved glaze over the top, and serve. A green garnish (like parsley or microgreens) makes the colors really pop! Leftovers store nicely in a covered container in the refrigerator.
A bowl of caponata with slices of bread

Oregon-style smoky caponata is my attempt to replicate a most memorable caponata I once had at the historic James Beard awarded Nick's Italian Café in McMinville, Oregon. Nick's caponata (a sort of Sicilian version of ratatouille) is made in a wood-fired oven that imparts a lovely smoky note not typical to caponata. I think of it every year at this time, when tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers are at their seasonal peak. This year I decided to make it at home, even without a wood burning oven of my own.

Pan-smoked oysters at King Estate

The idea of how to pull this off, however, came from another Oregon restaurant. We recently ate at King Estate Winery Restaurant, where a fresh oyster dish came in a covered Dutch oven in which hay from their farm encircled the oysters, was lit, and then quickly covered before being whisked tableside. We erupted in happy sighs of awe when the lid was removed, the smoke puffed out, and the gently smoked raw oysters were revealed. The aroma was incredible and the food inside was a stunning surprise.

I thought-- Hey! I mean, hay! I'm an Oregon hay farmer! I've got tons of that stuff. What could I smoke? How about a caponata like Nick's?

Caponata pizza on the grill.

How to Use Oregon-Style Smoky Caponata

Caponata makes a flavorful summer bounty bruschetta. Why not pile it into a bowl, surrounded by the toast for an interactive dish people can build themselves? It's also a great all-in-one pizza topping. Or, use it as a relish on a cheese and charcuterie platter. To change up any leftovers, blitz it into a smooth paste for a dip for flatbread, a sandwich spread, or pizza sauce base.

My most favorite way to use caponata might be in pasta. Caponata with nearly any pasta, with a scoop of pasta water and more olive oil for a silky sauce? Yes! Add a generous spoonful of ricotta, a flurry of pine nuts, and some basil on top and you've got a wonderful weeknight dinner.

Making the Caponata

This little caponata recipe is entirely worth the multiple steps. If you skip the optional hay smoking step you'll still end up with a caponata that will be a little more complex than usual by using the grill.

Caponata is usually made by roasting the eggplant in the oven, then adding it to the other ingredients on the stovetop to complete the cooking. I've found that roasting all the vegetables together in a grill basket (this high-quality stainless steel one is on sale right now) on the grill saves turning on the oven and eliminates a step. When making it in the winter months or if you don't have a grill, this step can be done in the oven with all the cubed vegetables on a baking sheet at one time . The oven method will not have the smoky quality, but will be traditional and delicious.

Cubed vegetables for caponata on the grill.
Just getting started on the grill.

The vegetables are cooked and hay-smoked (directions below) on the grill, then we finish the dish in a large skillet on the stovetop. This is where we lightly and quickly stew the vegetables with capers, olives, a little sugar and vinegar for the typical sweet/sour finish, olive oil, and herbs. This final part takes about 15 minutes.

Serve the caponata at room temperature or lightly chilled. It is even better the day after it's made and the flavors have integrated, making it perfect for do-ahead meals and entertaining.

How to Smoke Foods With Hay

Hay smoking provides a light, gentle smoked quality to any vegetable, potato, chicken or fish dish cooked on the grill. To hay smoke caponata on the hot grill, carefully take a handful of cut hay and arrange it around the grill pan. Acting very quickly, use a long-necked lighter to touch the hay in two or three places and immediately shut the lid of the grill. You'll see a light smoke coming from under the lid and seams of the grill. After three or four minutes, carefully open the grill to make sure the flame is out. Now, a light kiss of hay smoke aroma and flavor has fallen on the vegetables.

Remember to avoid overcooking! Do this step after the food is not quite at the doneness you desire. It will continue to cook in the enclosed hot grill for three of four additional minutes.

Share Your Success!

When you make this recipe, please show it off to our 101-Mile Kitchen community! Let us know in the comments, or on Facebook or Instagram, @101milekitchen. Speaking of that, have you joined the community? If not, we'd love to have you. You can take care of that right here, and when you do I'll send you a free Taste of Oregon appetizers recipe downloadable as a thank you!

Other Grilling Recipes You Might Enjoy

Beluga Lentil, Grilled Nectarine, and Burrata Salad

Grilled Peppers, White Beans, Feta + Herb Sauce

This post contains affiliate links. When you use these links to buy something I may earn a commission at no cost to you. Product affiliation helps me to keep this site ad-free while providing you with the content you enjoy. I only promote items that I use, like, and trust, or would invest in myself.

A bowl of caponata with slices of bread

Oregon-Style Smoky Caponata

Course: Appetizer, Main Dish
Cuisine: Italian, Pacific Northwest
Season: Bounty (August - October)
Dietary: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 8
Author: Pam Spettel
A kiss of hay smoke, easily done in a grill, brings this classic Italian summer vegetable dish next level. Use you caponata on bruschetta for an appetizer or light meal, as a pizza topping, or as a relish for a charcuterie plate.
Print Recipe

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 large eggplant, skin on, large diced
  • 1 large red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, seeded, large diced
  • ½ large purple onion, large diced
  • 4 medium tomatoes, ripe, large diced
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped into large pieces
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste mixed with 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar, or white wine or red wine vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons capers
  • ¼-⅓ cup black oil-cured olives, green Castelvetrano, or Kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup mixed fresh oregano and basil, roughly chopped

Instructions

  • Preheat all elements of a gas grill to high heat (400°-450°) or light a charcoal grill for a hot fire. Wash and chop the eggplant, pepper, onion, tomatoes, and garlic. Place the prepared vegetables in a grill basket. (Alternately, you could put the vegetables in a large cast iron skillet, or on multiple sheets of foil with the edges crumpled in to create a sided container.)
  • Put the grill basket onto a plate, and sprinkle the vegetables generously with salt and black pepper (at least one teaspoon of salt to enliven the vegetables is my recommendation.) Drizzle the vegetables with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, and stir. (The plate will contain any olive oil drips as you transport the grill basket to the grill and back.)
  • Once the grill is up to heat, place the grill basket onto the grates and close the lid. Check the vegetables every five-seven minutes and stir to help them cook evenly and to keep them from sticking and burning. Adjust your temperature or move your coals as needed to maintain a high but not scorching heat. Cook until the vegetables are beginning to soften but retain their shape, and the eggplant is turning from opaque creamy white to translucent gray-beige but the centers still have a little of their white showing through. Depending on your grill and its heat, this step will take from 15 to 25 minutes.
  • Do the optional hay smoking technique, described below. Remove the grill basket back to the plate, and bring it indoors to complete the dish. (Or, if you have a burner feature on your grill use it. Lucky you!)
  • On your cooktop, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large stainless steel or cast iron skillet to medium heat. Add the vegetables from the grill basket. Stir in the remaining ingredients except the herbs. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are fork-soft but not mushy, and are coated in the light sauce that has formed. This step will take about 15 minutes.
  • Allow the caponata to cool a bit before stirring in the herbs. Reserve a few pinches of the herbs for garnish, and serve. Store leftovers in a tightly closed container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Optional Hay Smoking

  • Turn off the gas grill, or if using a charcoal grill, scoot the coals to one side away from the grill pan. Find a medium-sized handful of clean, dry hay, and arrange it around the outer edges of the grill basket. Work carefully around the hot grill and grill grates to avoid injury. Use a long-necked lighter to lightly touch the hay in two or three places, and quickly cover the grill. You will notice a light smoke coming from under the lid and seams of the grill. When is dissipates to light wisps, remove the grill lid and proceed.
    Only try this in an enclosed grill to avoid setting a grass fire.
Canteloupe, shrimp, and mozzarella pears skweres topped with bail sauce.
Skewers of cantaloupe, shrimp, and fresh mozzarella pearls sit on a puddle of summery basil sauce, with a dollop on top.

Summer Basil Sauce has me stunned by its magical simplicity, and I'll be making it at least one a week until basil season ends. Five everyday ingredients and a one-minute whirl in a food processor (this is the one I've used and loved for decades) produces a versatile sauce that will make you want to dance into the summer moonlight.

The recipe for basil sauce began in the mind of David Lebovitz, the famous American-in-Paris cookbook author. The Perfect Scoop is my favorite of his books, loaded with recipes for the very best ice creams, sorbets, and sherbets. But I digress-- we were talking about basil.

You know what I really love about summer basil sauce? It is the fastest, easiest way to improve so many seasonal foods with hardly any work. More time for summer fun and yummier eating? I'm in. If you grow basil in your garden, I feel you giving me a big kiss for sharing this way of putting it to great use.

A jar and bowlful of summery green basil sauce.
This is NOT pesto!

What Makes this Sauce Different Than Pesto?

This spot-of-glory sauce is less specific and more versatile than pesto. Its compatibility with the wide slate of summer ingredients lets other flavors shine through in such a friendly way. It is 100 percent swoon-worthy. I view this as a kitchen essential-- one of those things every cook should know how to make.

It is slightly thinner, silkier, and gets its piquancy from a spot of Dijon mustard rather than Parmesan and pine nuts. There are two differences between my version and David's. I add slightly more Dijon for a subtle complexity bump. The mustard remains undetectable as an ingredient but adds a little certain something. And, because basil is often sold by weight instead of giving you a measurement by the cup I offer it by weight. Approximately one very large farmers market bunch or big Trader Joe's clamshell worth. And, wow, is it ever a bright green! My favorite color.

David Lebovitz calls it Basil Vinaigrette which I think undersells its super powers as an all-around sauce. Yes, it has a tablespoon or two of vinegar as an ingredient, but it serves as much more than a dressing for salads or marinade for meats.

Let Basil Sauce Jazz Up Your Summer

Since discovering this sauce a few weeks ago, I've used it like this:

  • on grilled fish
  • on grilled and thinly sliced steak, much like a chimichurri sauce
  • as a schmear on toast, topped with slices of avocado
  • as a sauce for cantaloupe/shrimp/fresh mozzarella appetizers (yumm-o, and great served with a glass of Viognier. This one from the Virginia is over the moon!)
  • as the sauce to a delicious 10-minute shrimp pasta, recipe available to the 101-Mile Kitchen Community in our next newsletter.
  • on grilled summer vegetables
  • on pan-fried breakfast potatoes
  • as a dip for grilled garlic bread
  • drizzled on sliced ripe tomatoes

I've got it queued up to use in bean salads, stirred into scrambled eggs, drizzled over a caprese salad, as a glaze for grilled chicken thighs, splashed onto any pizza before or after baking (especially a Margarita-style one,) and perhaps a spoonful added to a typical classic vinaigrette for leafy salads.

Share Your Success!

How will you use this amazing green goodness? I invite you to join me in using this to amp up our easy-going summer eating all season long. When you find yourself using this simple basil sauce in ways of your inventing, please share with our 101-Mile Kitchen community! Tell us in the comments, or on Facebook or Instagram, @101milekitchen. Have you joined the community? If not, we'd love to have you. You can take care of that right here.

This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something I may earn a commission at no cost to you. Product affiliation allows me to keep this site ad-free while providing you with the content you enjoy. I only promote items that I use, like, and trust, or would invest in myself.

plate with the ingredients for basil sauce on it.
Basil, white wine vinegar and Dijon mustard, salt, shallot, and olive oil. That's all it takes!
A jar and a bowl of summery green basil sauce.

Summer Basil Sauce

Course: Condiments
Cuisine: American, Pacific Northwest
Season: Bounty (August - October), Evergreen (April - July)
Dietary: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Vegan
Preparation: Fast + Easy
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1.5 cups
Author: Adapted from David Lebovitz
Long on versatile summery flavor, short on ingredients, this simple sauce will jazz up your summer meals.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ tablespoons red or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 small shallot, peeled and sliced
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces roughly chopped fresh basil leaves and thin stems, woody stems removed, one very large farmer's market bunch worth, or one Trader Joe's clamshell package

Instructions

  • Add all ingredients except the basil to the food processor and whirl for a few seconds. Add the basil, and whirl for 45 seconds to 1 minute, scraping down the sides once or twice, until the vinaigrette is smooth. If the sauce is too thick for your liking, add a little more water or olive oil to thin it out.
  • Store in a jar with a tight-fitting lid in the refrigerator for up to a week. The sauce is best served at room temperature.
Cowboy sloppy joes on a platter with beans.

Howdy, cowboys and cowgirls! Chuckwagon Cookie here to share some pretty decent grub for summer fun. Cowboy Sloppy Joes, made with ground beef, smoky seasonings, and a little beer (non-alcoholic is my choice) are a great way to make some summer fun.

Make Cowboy Sloppy Joes when you gather around a crackly campfire, searching for Cassiopeia or the Summer Triangle. Try imagining what it might have been like to have worked the herd that day, or pretend to be making your way west on the Oregon Trail. Or simply take a pot of Cowboy Sloppy Joes with you to campouts, or make them for backyard gatherings. Ravenous kids will love these after jumping out of the pool or lake, when they get home from day camps, or when they come in off of the slip-and-slide.

Cowboy sloppy joes on a platter with beans, next to spurs.

Make no mistake in thinking these are just for kids, however. My dear friends Holly and Chris celebrate the end of the week by having themed Friday night mini-parties. They prove to me all the time that it's not that hard to have some simple grown-up fun.

Take a page from Holly and Chris's playbook and plan a fun summer evening! For a menu of Cowboy Sloppy Joes, Cowboy Beans (click for the video recipe), and coleslaw, your attire might include a red bandana and a cowboy hat. Play a little Hank Williams or John Prine. Follow dinner up with an episode or two of 1883. You are not too old to create this kid of fun for yourself!

cowboy sloppy joes, cowboy beans on a platter.

Making Cowboy Sloppy Joes

You'll notice that this recipe is scaled to feed six. This diverts from my new focus of developing recipes for smaller households, and here is why. I've packaged these up for the freezer in two-serving containers, which is handy in the summer when you've been out playing or just don't want to turn on the range. The sloppy joe mixture warms easily in the microwave or in a small saucepan. Besides, when the grandkids are coming over or you have that backyard cowboy party, you are all set for a slightly larger crowd.

Another Hearty, Quick Ground Beef Recipe

Cheap, Quick + Easy 20-minute Beefy Spinach Burritos

If you enjoy this recipe, please give it a green star rating on the recipe card below. That will help others find it too. If you make the recipe, please show us and tag 101-Mile Kitchen on Facebook and Instagram! (It's a total thrill when I hear you've made my recipes!) And as always, your questions and feedback in the comments is welcome and appreciated.

Cowboy Sloppy Joes on a platter with cowboy beans

Cowboy Sloppy Joes

Course: Main Dish, Quick + Easy
Cuisine: American
Season: All Season
Dietary: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free
Preparation: Fast + Easy, One Pot/One Pan
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6
Author: Pam Spettel
Tell stories around the campfire while enjoying chuckwagon-style Cowboy Sloppy Joes. This is how summer memories are made.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • lbs. ground beef
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 small red or green bell pepper, finely diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, canned
  • 1 12 oz. can beer, any kind, regular or non-alcoholic or 12 oz. water plus 1 additional tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Instructions

  • In a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef until the pink is gone. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic and continue to cook until the onion is translucent and soft. Stir, scraping the bottom of the pan, regularly.
  • Add the cumin, smoked paprika, and brown sugar and stir in. Cook about 1 minute to activate the spices. Add the chipotle in adobo, beer, diced tomatoes and their juices, and apple cider to the mix, scraping the spices from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil, and then drop the heat to a gently simmer to reduce and thicken the sauce and allow the flavors to bloom together, about 10 minutes.
  • Serve the sloppy Joe mixture on toasted buns with any condiments you prefer. (We like ours with some thinly sliced onion nothing else.)
Mediterranean Artichoke Chicken in a silky garlic herb sauce bubbles away.

Mediterranean Artichoke Chicken is one of those recipes you'll go to again and again. Make it once and you'll love it for its silky sauce, fork-tender chicken, and utter simplicity. Everything comes together in one skillet, yet it is light and so so delicious.

Making the Mediterranean Chicken + Artichokes

First, this may look or sound like a challenging recipe, but it is not. The steps are easy to work through:

  • Brown the chicken in a pan.
  • In the same pan, brown the artichoke halves or pieces, garlic, and shallot or onion.
  • Add the wine or vermouth and chicken stock.
  • Add back the browned chicken and braise at a simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Add the olives and part of the oregano and simmer another 5 minutes.
  • Serve over rice, pasta, mashed potatoes, farro, or polenta.
  • Viola!

Next, let's address the elephant in the room. Yes, you are reading this right-- 40 to 60 cloves of garlic. When garlic gets a nice warm braise, it turns soft and savory-sweet. The tender garlic breaks down and adds to the sauce for this dish, so please don't be afraid of it. When I made it this time I counted 64 cloves from my fun-sized bag of pre-peeled Costco garlic, and it was perfectly divine.

Decades ago I took a cooking class in New Orleans, and I'll never forget this encouragement from the instructor. "Treat garlic like a vegetable-- it's just another vegetable. Use it generously." That has forever changed my cooking. Give it a try.

Mediterranean Artichoke Chicken skillet.

Preparing Artichokes for Mediterranean Chicken

Frozen or well-drained jarred artichokes work just fine in this recipe, but during spring fresh artichokes are a great way to go. This time I had some palm-sized baby artichokes from the farmers market. Preparation for them is the same as for large artichokes. First, gently peel the darker, thicker leaves away until you reach the pale and tender leaves towards the center. Next, trim about 1/3 of the crown away from the tip, slicing horizontally. Use a vegetable peeler or pairing knife to peel the stem, then slice them in half vertically, top to bottom.

If you are working with large artichokes, you'll likely need to scoop out the prickly part of the inner choke with the tip of a spoon, but the babies don't need this. Finally, you'll plop the trimmed artichoke hearts into a bowl you've filled with cool water and healthy splash of white vinegar. The acidified water will keep the artichokes from darkening while you work through them. When you're ready to use them, remove them from the water and pat them dry.

Yes, this takes some time. I use this time as an exercise in presence, noticing all the different colors an textures of my artistic medium, the amazing artichoke! Notice the rosette that emerges when you cut off the top? And the topographical map that appears when you slice down the center? I settle in to the task, allowing my mind to calm as my hands work. This special time is one of the things I love most about cooking, and working with produce especially.

You will have a rather enormous pile of artichoke leaves when you're done. That's just part of artichokes, just like the pile that's left behind when you husk and de-silk fresh corn. Add this to your compost pile just like you do other vegetable trimmings. When we talk about edible flowers, remember that the artichoke is the flower of this amazing plant.

All that to say, if you opt to go the frozen or jarred artichoke route, no one will blame you, and you'll still have an utterly delicious Mediterranean Artichoke Chicken braise.

Other One-Skillet Meals You'll Love

Weeknight Gingery Broccoli Beef Stir-Fry

Green Goddess Mac + Cheese

Turkey Meatball + Roasted Lemon Zucchini Pasta

If you enjoy this recipe, please give it a green star rating on the recipe card below. That will help others find it too! If you make the recipe, please show us and tag 101-Mile Kitchen on Facebook and Instagram! (It's a total thrill when I hear you've made my recipes!) And as always, your questions and feedback in the comments is welcome and appreciated.

top ten recipes of 2022- Mediterranean Artichoke Chicken

Mediterranean Artichoke Chicken

Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Season: All Season
Dietary: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free
Preparation: One Pot/One Pan
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 2 to 3
Author: Pam Spettel
A quick braise of artichokes, chicken thighs, lots of garlic, and olives makes a lovely weeknight or guest-worthy dinner.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin on
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 baby artichokes, OR 12 oz. frozen thawed artichoke hearts, or 1 14 oz. can halved artichoke hearts, drained
  • 40-60 cloves fresh garlic, peeled (Yes, that many! They turn soft and sweet in the braise.)
  • 1 large shallot, minced or 1/2 onion, minced
  • cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • ½ cup pitted green olives, canned or from the olive bar
  • 1 large handful fresh oregano leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Pat the chicken thighs dry and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Place the chicken in the skillet skin side down and allow to brown, without moving or turning, for about 4 minutes. When the chicken is well-browned and will lift easily from the skillet, flip and repeat on the other side. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
  • Prepare the artichokes: follow the directions in the above post for trimming the fresh baby artichokes, or if using frozen or canned, gently pat them dry with a paper towel. Place the artichokes in the pan, cut side down, and allow them to take on a bit of color without moving or flipping. When they begin to brown, Add the garlic and shallot, and stir. Allow the garlic to brown in spots and begin to soften, stirring every two minutes for about 6 minutes.
  • Add the vermouth to the pan and scrape up any browned bits clinging to the pan. Add the chicken stock and stir. Bring to a simmer, and tuck the browned chicken thighs into the sauce. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.
  • Put a lid on the pan and allow it to simmer for about 15 minutes to finish cooking the chicken and marry the flavors together. Remove the lid and add the green olives and about half of the oregano and stir. Allow it to cook another 5 minutes. Check to ensure that the chicken is cooked through, giving it a few more minutes if necessary. When done, the chicken will be fork-tender.
  • This chicken dish is wonderful served on a bed of pasta, rice, farro, or polenta. Garnish with the remaining oregano and serve.
Sweet and spicy salmon bowl with orange and cucumber

Every now and then I come up with a meal that blows even my own mind. Sweet + Spicy Salmon Rice Bowls is one of those times.

Chinook salmon, referred to as king salmon because of their size, are in season in the Pacific Northwest. They are expensive because they are in population decline. That is why I now am buying sustainably farmed salmon. Farmed salmon in not only less expensive, it allows dwindling fish populations a chance to recover and keep responsible fishermen and women working.

I don't choose just any old industrialized farmed salmon, but only that which is raised in its natural ocean environment, not in a tank that is environmentally unsound and can contain toxins. I'd love for you to read more about this responsible and humane way of raising fish.

Not only that, but more and more chefs are using sustainably farmed fish. They know this is one way to be sure there will be more in the future. And, well, when it's raised right it tastes just as great as wild.

Salmon bowl with a glass of Oregon Rose.
The salmon bowls are delightful served alongside Brigadoon Wine Company's Pinot Noir Rosé.

Making the Sweet + Spicy Salmon Rice Bowls

This entire process will take 45 minutes, tops. This recipe is layed out for one person and is easily scaled up if you serve more. The dressing will make enough for 4 bowls, but is a tremendous salad dressing and marinate for chicken shrimp, and other fish, so if you have a couple tablespoons of it left it won't be hard to put it to good use.

First, put a pot of jasmine rice on the stove, in your rice maker, or instant pot. If you cook it on the stove like I do, take it off the heat, leave the lid on, and allow it to steam for ten minutes after its simmer for perfect rice.

Next, you'll whip up a flavorful mixture that will serve you in three ways. It becomes the salmon marinade and glaze, and it dresses the finished salmon rice bowl, tying everything together deliciously. Four ingredients, one small bowl, bam! (Be cautious about the heat of your chili sauce-- not all is created equal so be sure to take a wee taste to gauge how much heat you'd like.) Pour a few tablespoonsful in a shallow dish and put your salmon in it to marinate, and reserve the rest.

Then you'll put your salmon on a small baking sheet and stick it in a hot oven for 5 minutes. After five minutes switch the oven to broil, and broil it for 3-4 minutes, or until the glaze is beginning to bubble, thicken, and brown. (I use my toaster oven to cook the salmon. It's more energy efficient, and when the weather is warm it doesn't heat the house up.)

While the salmon is soaking and the rice is cooking, you'll slice up some cute little Persian cucumbers and an orange or two. You'll wash and dry some baby spinach. You'll pluck some leaves of fresh mint and basil from their stems, and slice one or two leaves into thin slivers for garnish.

two sweet and spicy salmon bowls with wine glasses

Putting the Bowls Together is a Snap

As soon as all the components are ready, you'll divvy up the rice among the bowls, and lay the spinach leaves on top. (I like to arrange the spinach to one side of the bowl. It's artsy that way.) You'll then fan out a few orange slices on top of the spinach, then arrange the cucumber slices on the opposite side of the bowl to make room for the salmon to go in the center. Drizzle it all with the marinade/dressing. Tuck the whole mint and basil leaves here and there-- they become part of the green salad. Sprinkle everything with sesame seeds if you have them, black are especially pretty. Fluff the herb slivers over the top. If you have some colorful radishes to thinly slice, they add another visual and flavor component, but aren't essential.

So there you have it, Sweet + Spicy Salmon Rice Bowls! Doesn't that look pretty? Wait until you taste it.

Other Grain Bowls To Try

Roasted Mushroom, Grain + Spinach Salad
Warm Spinach Grain Salad + Pancetta Dressing

If you enjoy this recipe, please give it a green star rating on the recipe card below. That will help others find it too! If you make the recipe, please show me and tag 101-Mile Kitchen on Facebook and Instagram! (It's a total thrill when I hear you've made my recipes!) And as always, your questions and feedback in the comments is welcome and appreciated.

sweet and spicy salmon bowl, ready to eat

Sweet + Spicy Salmon Bowls

Course: Main Dish, Salad
Cuisine: Fusion
Season: All Season
Dietary: Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free
Preparation: Fast + Easy
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 1
Author: Pam Spettel
Sweet from honey, spicy from chili sauce, and tangy from lime! Enjoy a fabulously beautiful and fantastic tasting meal in about 45 minutes. (Did someone say healthy? Shhhh!)
Print Recipe

Ingredients

For the Rice

  • ¼ cup per person jasmine rice prepared according to package directions

For the Marinade/Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce, low sodium
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1-2 teaspoons chili crisp or sriracha sauce Check your chili crisp for heat and use accordingly

For the Salmon

  • 1 6 oz. per person salmon filet, scaled and checked for bones

For the Salad Toppings

  • 1 large handful per person baby spinach, washed and patted dry
  • ½ large orange, peeled and thinly sliced, per person
  • 2 small Persian cucumbers, sliced, per person
  • 1 sprig each fresh mint and basil, per person
  • 1 tsp. sesame seeds, black or white, per person (optional)

Instructions

Cook the Rice

  • Cook the rice according to package directions stovetop, rice cooker, or instant pot style, using 1/4 cup dry rice for every person you are serving. If you use the stovetop method, allow the cooked rice to rest at least 10 minutes with the lid on before serving.

Make the Marinate/Dressing

  • Stir together the honey and soy sauce in a small bowl. Stir in all remaining ingredients. Set aside.

For the Salmon

  • Preheat the oven to 400°. Place 3 tablespoons of the marinade in a small dish with high sides like a baking dish or food storage container. Place the salmon flesh side down in the marinade. Flip after five minutes. Spoon the marinate over the top and set aside for another 5 minutes.
  • Oil or spray a small baking sheet and place the salmon filets skin side up on it. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes. Turn the broiler on to 400° and move the salmon up under the broiler for 3-4 minutes, until the glaze has turned a bit sticky looking and is beginning to brown in places. Remove from the over.

Putting the Bowls Together

  • Divide the rice among the serving bowls. Lay the spinach over the rice. Fan the orange slices out and divide them among the bowls. Divide the cucumber slices among the bowls. Lay the cooked salmon in the center of each bowl. Tuck whole mint and basil leaves among the spinach, orange, and cucumber. Thinly slice one or two leaves to sprinkle on top. Drizzle 1½-2 tablespoons dressing over everything. Sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional) and serve!

Notes

The marinade/dressing recipe makes enough for 4 rice bowls. If you have leftovers, it's perfect as a salad dressing or marinate for fish, shrimp, or chicken.
A plate of spinach salad with pancetta vinaigrette

Every now and then I cook for just myself, something like this warm spinach salad with pancetta vinaigrette, warm barley, toasted hazelnuts, an egg, with beautiful golden crowns of Delicata squash. It takes me back to my single days when I first learned to eat alone. For 47 years of my life there was family at my dinner table, and suddenly eating alone was such a hard thing. I had finally learned to enjoy it by the time this one particularly extraordinary guy came along.

Meet Scott

What can I tell you about my this man, who became my husband? First, Scott is a never-ending source of puns that always make me laugh. He is really sweet with his mother, daughters, sons, grandchildren, my whole family, friends, grocery checkers, wait staff, dogs and cats, well, everyone. He always takes the generous view of (nearly) all people.

spinach salad with pancetta dressing on a table.

Going places with him is always a fun adventure.

We once hiked what seemed like 400-foot high sand dunes to visit the Oregon coastline. The wind was howling, it was raining, and my hikers were filled with sand. It had not been my favorite afternoon, and we still had to climb back over the dunes to get to our car. I was over it. He pulled out his phone, pretended to dial, and held the phone to his ear.

Man on beach with cell phone

"Hello?" he said with a serous façade. "My wife is ready to have the helicopter pick her up and return her to the chateau. Twenty minutes? Great, thank you." Scott always knows how to make me laugh, and how to gently move my legs-- and my attitude-- in the right direction.

Still Learning About Him, Still in Awe

I could go on about how smart and good looking he is, too. But here's what you really need to know. At this moment one of Scott's most dearly beloveds is in long-term hospital care. She lives far away, and when he couldn't be at her side in the first days of her medical situation he was nearly beside himself. He has now spent a few weeks at her bedside helping her heal, with more time away from home to come. He has full-heartedly embraced the task of caregiving in the most beautiful way, with strength, humor, devotion, and hope.

So, this won't be the last time I make spinach salad with pancetta vinaigrette for one. I'll be doing more dining alone off and on for a time, while this amazing person I call my husband is away doing God's work of loving so well.

A plate of spinach salad and glass of wine on a table in front of a window.
My table-for-one view.

About this Spinach Salad Recipe + Pancetta Dressing

This pretty shoulder-season main-dish salad uses hearty curly spinach, the last of the winter Delicata squash in my vegetable basket, and some warm cooked barley, naturally gluten-free buckwheat groats, or farro. Warm salads are so satisfying during the spring and autumn season changes. This one is every bit as yummy to eat as it is lovely to look at.

Portland's James Beard award winning Joshua McFadden's book, Six Seasons; A New Way with Vegetables provides the inspiration for the pancetta vinaigrette. I divert from his recipe in a few places-- I use the olive oil and rendered pancetta to lightly wilt hearty spinach right in the pan. Sherry vinegar is my choice for this dish instead of red wine vinegar that Chef McFadden uses, and I add it just as the spinach is finished wilting in the pan. And, since I'm cooking for one, I reduce the overall ingredient quantities.

All the ingredients necessary to make spinach salad and pancetta vinaigrette

Other Shoulder-Season Main-Dish Salads You May Enjoy

Roasted Mushroom, Grain + Spinach Salad: Get the recipe here.
Crunchy Cold Buckwheat Noodle Salad + Peanut Sauce: Get the recipe here.

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A plate of spinach salad with pancetta vinaigrette

Warm Spinach Salad + Pancetta Vinaigrette

Course: Main Dish, Salad
Cuisine: Pacific Northwest
Season: Mist (November - March)
Dietary: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free
Servings: 1
A delicious salad using the last of winter's produce and the first of spring's. Toasty nuts, warm grains, and an egg make it very special, Increase quantities as needed.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup hulled barley, buckwheat groats, or farro *see notes for cooking times.
  • ½ small Delicata squash, sliced into ½" rings, seeded
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 handfuls curly leaf spinach. washed and shaken dry (see special instructions if using baby spinach)
  • 2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
  • ¼ cup toasted hazelnuts (place nuts on a small baking sheet in a 350° degree oven 6-8 minutes until fragrant)
  • 1 boiled egg, cooked to your liking and peeled
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 357°. Put the barley, buckwheat groats, or farro* in a small saucepan and add 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, stir, then reduce heat to a lightly bubbling simmer. Leave the pan uncovered, and cook the grains until plump and tender, stirring occasionally. This will take between 15-60 minutes depending on your grain of choice. Drain, and set aside.
  • Place the sliced Delicata squash rings on a small baking sheet, drizzle with one tablespoon olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place into the hot oven for 20-25 minutes until fork-tender and beginning to brown in some places, flipping halfway through.
  • About 5 minutes before the grains are finished cooking, warm one tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat until shimmering. Add the pancetta and garlic. Move the pancetta and garlic around in the skillet with a wooden spool or spatula until it is rendered, crispy, and slightly browned. Reduce the heat to medium and add the spinach. Toss the spinach in the warm pancetta garlic oil until it is just beginning to wilt, about 2-3 minutes. Add the warm cooked grain and sherry vinegar to the spinach, and toss until well coated in the vinaigrette.
  • Place the spinach and grains on a serving plate. Arrange the Delicata slices on top, sprinkle with hazelnuts, and place the egg on top. Serve.

Notes

Grain cooking times:
Barley:
   Pearled-- 20-30 minutes
   Hulled- 45-60 minutes
Buckwheat groats- 15-25 minutes
Farro:
   20-50 minutes depending on if grains are pearled or hulled   
 

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You’re in the right place!  I’m Pam Spettel, home cooking expert and guide, and I’m here to show you how to break up with cooking and hospitality anxiety, learn how to use recipes as guides rather than strict rules, and let your cooking intuition and confidence soar.

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