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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 bowlful of vanilla lemon rice pudding.

I wish I had a nickel for every time the words "comfort food" have been used in the United States since March 2020. With the money, I'd launch a campaign to deliver a cup of Vanilla Lemon Rice Pudding to the doorstep of every American, thereby redefining comfort food in our culture.

This recipe is gently sweet, creamy but not cloying. It is alive with lemon zest, and ethereal with a whole vanilla been (or vanilla extract.) Vanilla Lemon Rice Pudding is far more exciting than any other rice pudding I've ever had. Yet as comforting as your favorite cashmere sweater.

A platterful of cups of creamy vanilla lemon rice pudding.

The Paris Connection

I learned of this bit of deliciousness from Katherine Burns of Rue Dauphine Paris. Katherine's Rue Dauphine Paris Instagram feed is full of glorious photos of her visits to historic gardens, churches, shops, and arrondissements in Paris, some lovely French recipes, and a glimpse of how she brings the Parisian lifestyle into her own Seattle home. Another bit of fun-- she and May of Noisettes 1420 (also a fabulous peek into Paris) host a Francophile book club, which I promise myself to participate in some soon day.

Needless to say, discovering Rue Dauphine Paris has brought me a bit of joy in these travel-less days, and has me wishing Katherine would be my guide to Paris one day.

A platter of 5 cups of vanilla lemon rice pudding.

Making Vanilla Lemon Rice Pudding

Katherine graciously allowed me to share her vanilla rice pudding recipe with you. I've renamed it to bring justice to the magic the lemon brings. I've made a slight change to the dairy component, swapping her 4 cups of whole milk + 1 1/4 cups heavy cream for 1 quart of half-and-half and 1 1/4 cups milk), otherwise this is completely hers. This change retains the silky creaminess of her version, but leaves me with no wasted partial carton of whipping cream. She is right in that the sweet aroma of lemon and vanilla this offers when bubbling on the stovetop is most pleasant.

You should definitely use Meyer Lemons when they are in season for this. The floral mandarin/lemon flavor is fantastic. I think orange zest would also be wonderful, like a creamsicle. However, standard Eureka or Lisbon (everyday grocery store0 lemons will still take you over the moon.

Katherine serves hers in flowery china cups, a touch of French charm, with a drizzle of caramel sauce. I like serving the rice pudding with a wedge of the zested lemon. A squeeze over the top brings a little acidic component as a balance to its sweet creaminess.

When I started dreaming of Vanilla Lemon Rice Pudding in the middle of the night, I knew I had to share it with you. It has become my new favorite sweet treat. Maybe it will become yours, too, as you dream of far away places.

Five everyday ingredients, so much deliciousness.

Another Delicious and Easy Dessert

Nutty Chocolate Port Ice Cream Sundae: Get the recipe here.

A cup of vanilla lemon rice pudding with a spoon

Vanilla Lemon Rice Pudding

Course: Breakfast + Brunch, Dessert
Cuisine: French
Season: All Season
Dietary: Gluten-Free
Preparation: One Pot/One Pan
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 6 - 8
It's hard to believe five ingredients can make a treat as delicious and comforting as this vanilla lemon rice pudding.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 cups half-and-half*
  • cups milk
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • 2 lemons zested, lemons reserved for garnish
  • 1 cup Arborio rice

Instructions

  • Combine milk, heavy cream, sugar, vanilla seeds and bean pod, and lemon zest in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium low heat.
  • Stir in rice, bring back to a strong simmer, cover with a lid. Reduce heat to the lowest possible setting and simmer 60 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until rice is tender and a puddinglike texture. Spoon into serving dishes, garnish with a wedge of zested lemon to squeeze over the top, and serve warm. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to store up to three days.

Notes

*Katherine Burns' original recipe calls for 4 cups of whole milk and 1¼ cups whipping cream. I changed this in order to use up an entire quart of half-and-half, and I typically have milk on hand. This provides less waste (3/4 cup of cream) in my kitchen since I use cream infrequently. Choose what's best for you, as the results are nearly indistinguishable. 
olive oil drop biscuits on a plate next to a bottle of wine.

For every aspirational, time-consuming, detail-laden recipe in a cook's repertoire, she needs ten like this one in her bag of tricks. These 20-minute, one bowl Quickie Olive Oil Drop Biscuits have elevated so many meals in my lifetime. They are a perfect last-minute additional to all the soups and stews of the season. The biscuits also compliment any main-dish salad, and are a great way to stretch a meal when guests pop in (like back in the BC days.) Really, they are perfect wherever a dinner roll or biscuit would fit.

A fun trick is to make the biscuits small, dropped from a dinner spoon instead of a soup spoon, and serve them as an appetizer or snack with a glass of wine, an American version of gougères.

A plateful of quickie olive oil drop biscuits.

What is to love about these golden mounds of goodness?

A plateful of three olive oil biscuits, one with a bite taken out.
Olive Oil Drop Biscuits are a bit crispy on the outside, tender + fluffy on the inside.

Selling point number one-- quickie olive oil drop biscuits are made in lightening speed. As in, begin preheating your oven now, and your biscuits will be mixed and formed before the oven is up to heat. There are only four primary ingredients to gather and measure here. Using olive oil eliminates the step of cutting in butter. Without the need to roll out and cut the dough like a typical biscuit you save that time, and a lot of cleanup by keeping everything contained in one bowl and not spread all over the counter.

Next, you'll fall head-over-heels for them because they are highly customizable. Olive oil drop biscuits without any of the optional add-ins are deliciously simple, and they become even more remarkable with the addition of some cheese, fresh or dried herbs, or better yet, both cheese and herbs. Any cheese that can be crumbled with your fingers or grated works here, and I often use a combination of cheeses just to use up the left-over nubbins.

Lastly, I love this recipe for olive oil droppers because it makes a relatively small batch. Did you know that in 2020, 53% of American households has one or two members? Most of us can't use a dozen biscuits. This fact is something I'm taking note of more and more when developing recipes, and you should see a change in the recipe sizes on these pages.

Serve your quickie olive oil biscuits alongside these recipes:

Any of the variations of Winter White Vegetable Soup: Get recipe here.
Healing Chickpea Orzo Bowl in Ginger Broth: Get recipe here.
Roasted Mushroom, Grain, + Spinach Salad. Get recipe here.
Roasted Peppers, White Beans, Feta + Simple Herb Sauce, made sheet-pan-style instead of grilled. Get recipe here.

all the ingredients needed to make quickie olive oil drop biscuits.
So few ingredients for so much quick and easy goodness!
A plateful of quickie olive oil drop biscuits

Quickie Olive Oil Biscuits

Course: Appetizer, Bread + Rolls, Quick + Easy
Season: All Season
Dietary: Egg-Free, Nut-Free, Vegan
Preparation: Baking, Fast + Easy
Prep Time: 8 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 8 biscuits
These lightning fast, crispy on the outside, tender on the inside drop biscuits are the perfect "little something" to round out a meal. Delicious plain, or with the cheese and herb add-ins. You'll have them mixed up before your oven preheats!
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup milk or non-dairy milk
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (equal to ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon)

Optional Add-Ins

  • cup crumbly or grated cheese Parmesan, cheddar, gruyere, blue, fontina, gouda, etc.
  • fresh or dried herbs of your choice thyme, chives, rosemary, Italian seasoning, oregano, basil, cumin, etc.

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with parchment of a silicone baking mat. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the dry ingredients. If you are using any cheese or herbs, stir them into the dry ingredients.
  • Pour the milk and olive oil over the dry ingredients at the same time, and quickly and gently stir until the dry ingredients are incorporated. This will leave a somewhat shaggy dough. Don't overmix.
  • Drop the biscuits by spoonful onto the parchment or mat. Sprinkle the tops with a little more cheese, if you'd like. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the biscuits are golden brown and the tops bounce back up when lightly pressed. Cool on a rack, and serve.

Notes

These speedy drop biscuits are best eaten right out of the oven. If you have any leftover, rewarm them for a few minutes on an oven or toaster for best texture. Leftovers are also good for breakfast, toasted with butter and jam.
jar of roasted vegetable stock

One of the graces of home cooking is that there are no paying customers demanding a dish to be exactly the same visit after visit. Each time you make roasted vegetable stock you use any variety of vegetables, bones, meats, herbs, and spices you happen to have. Each time the stock will have a subtly unique flavor. This may not work well in a restaurant, but is terrific at home.

This post is dedicated to my 1970's junior high school home economics teacher, Mrs. Waetje, who taught that reducing waste is a tenet of home economics-- a wise use of family finances. It is a great feeling to rummage through the fridge for vegetables that may otherwise go to waste and turn them into liquid gold. Thank you, Mrs. Waetje, and if you are still out there, I was paying attention despite my wiggles and perpetual chatter.

Wake up Your Cooking with Aromatic and Delectable Stock

Your roasted vegetable stock will add layers and layers of flavor to the soups and stews you make-- that's a given. Use your liquid gold to make risotto, to cook rice and grains like barley, farro, and buckwheat groats. Use it as a medium in which to simmer your dried beans, and as a base for meaty braises. A ladleful added to just about any ragu or stew will deepen its flavor. And one of my favorite things is to cradle a hot mug of broth first thing in the morning as a gentle winter wake up tonic.

The Difference Between Unroasted and Roasted Vegetable Stock

Roasting the vegetables before the simmer produces a deep, richly flavored stock perfect for supporting heartier cool-weather ingredients and recipes. Save the light golden unroasted vegetable stocks for spring and summer cooking. To make a typical light golden broth, simply do not roast the vegetables first, and omit the mushrooms. Follow the remaining directions as they are written.

overhead picture of a jar of roasted vegetable stock.

The Difference Between Stock and Broth

There seems to be a different answer to this question for every person who asks it. Some say that to be called stock it needs to be made with bones, or that broth is something you sip and stock is something you cook with. Another pundit suggests broth is lighter and more flavorful, while stock is thicker. That is questionable, in my opinion, as light broths can be rather wan and flavorless, and thicker stocks can be full of complex flavor.

So, potayto, potahto. Make some, enjoy it, and call it whatever you want. To me, spring and summer cooking seems to lend itself to light broths, autumn and winter to rich, brown stocks. The cooking community seems to agree that the terms are interchangeable. Whatever rolls out of my mouth is the term I'll use!

Vegetable Stock Do's and Don'ts

The very thrifty among us (like Mrs. Waetje, I'm sure) keep a zip-bag in the freezer and stuff clean, vegetable scraps into it. When it's full it is time to make stock.

Classic mirepoix-- onion, carrot, and celery are standard issue in stock making. (You will note the absence of celery in the mis en place photo below. I didn't have any, and it is not noticeably missed in the resulting stock.) See the notes section of the recipe for a more comprehensive list of vegetables and optional ingredients that can contribute to great stock.

Most vegetables make a good stock, with a few exceptions; Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, and artichokes can be overpowering or add off-putting flavor notes, so avoid them for this purpose. Beets, especially red ones, will likely make your stock an odd and unappealing color, so think twice about throwing those into the pot. Potatoes are fine, but I don't use them to keep the stock a little more clear than cloudy, a personal preference.

Mushrooms are lovely in a roasted vegetable stock. Dried mushrooms, even better! Just one ounce of dried mushrooms (don't roast them-- just add them to the pot with the water) intensify the rich flavor and add a deeper color to the stock. They are not required, but do add something nice and grounding.

Limp, wilted, scuffed, and past-their-prime vegetables are all fair game. Just be sure to peel or cut off any parts that have blackened or have signs of mold to keep your broth clean and fresh tasting.

Use Your Roasted Vegetable Stock in These Recipes

To cook the grain in Roasted Mushroom, Grain, and Spinach Salad. Get the Recipe.
In place of the water in Pumpkin Black Bean Soup. Get the recipe.

Last Words

If you like this recipe, please give it rating by clicking into the green stars, and if you have questions about the recipe or other culinary dilemmas, please email me at pam@101milekitchen.com. Your success is important to me. Thank you to each and every one of you who subscribes to 101-Mile Kitchen newsletters. You are appreciated more than you'll ever know!

pot of roasted vegetable stock

Roasted Vegetable Stock

Course: Soup + Stew
Season: Mist (November - March)
Dietary: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan
Preparation: Roasting
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 2 quarts
Deep, richly flavored roasted vegetable stock provides perfect support to hearty cool-weather ingredients and recipes.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4-5 pounds mixed vegetables See notes.
  • 4-6 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for adjusting at the end
  • 1 teaspoon whole black or mixed peppercorns
  • 1 bunch parsley, flat leaf or curly, stems trimmed
  • assorted fresh herbs of your choice, about one bunch total, OR dried herbs of your choice, up to 2 teaspoons
  • 1 ounce dried mushrooms, any variety, optional
  • 1-2 bay leaf
  • other optional ingredients of your choice. See notes.
  • quarts water

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°, or 325° convection. Line a 13" x 18" baking sheet with foil.
  • Wash the vegetables and trim away any spoiled parts. Cut the vegetables into evenly sized chunks and place them on the foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with salt and a good drizzle of olive oil, up to 3 Tablespoonsful. Mix gently together with your hands. Place the sheet into the oven and roast for about 40 minutes, or until the onions and other vegetables are beginning to take on some roasted color and are quite fragrant, stirring halfway through.
  • Place the roasted vegetables and any browned stuck-on parts and oil that remain into an 8 quart stockpot. Add the salt, peppercorns, fresh or dried herbs, dried mushrooms, if using, bay leaves, and water. Bring the pot to a rapid boil, and immediately reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Cover, and cooking for 1-2 hours, stirring often. Remove the lid for the last half of cooking.
  • Taste the stock and adjust seasoning by adding more salt if necessary. Allow the stock to cook slightly until safe to handle.
  • Strain the stock first through a colander to remove the larger bits, then strain again through a very fine mesh strainer to remove the tiny bits that make it cloudy. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to three months.

Notes

Vegetable selection:
Classic mirepoix-- onion, carrot, and celery are standard issue. Most vegetables make a good stock. Do use the leaves, peels, skins, and stalks of leeks, garlic, peppers, parsnips, turnips, squashes, fennel, kohlrabi, tomatoes. Corn and corn cobs and celery root, are good additions, too. 
Think twice about using Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, and artichokes which can add overpowering off-putting flavor notes. Potatoes are fine, but omitting them will keep the stock from becoming too cloudy.
Mushrooms are lovely in a roasted vegetable stock. Dried mushrooms are even better! Just one ounce of dried mushrooms (don't roast them-- just add them to the pot with the water) intensify the rich flavor and deep color to the stock. They are not required, but do add something nice.
Optional additions:
Rinds (not the juicy flesh) of citrus, especially lemon and orange.
Nubs of fresh ginger and/or turmeric.
Dried chilis of any variety. I find a couple small arbols add a very subtle warmth. The larger dried chilis will make a marked flavor difference and would be fantastic as a tortilla soup base, for example. 
Varied fresh herbs. Nearly all herb will make a nice flavor contribution, but do be careful with some of the more overpowering herbs such as rosemary and oregano. A little can go a long way.
Dried herbs are much more condensed in flavor than fresh, so a little goes a long way here, too. But do use them!
Juniper berries are wonderful in a stock. Add up to 1 teaspoonful, gently crushed to release even more of their wintry flavor. 
Platter of Roasted Mushroom, Grain, and Spinach Salad.

Feasts, cookie platters, cocktail parties, and office holiday goodies, oh my! As fun as it is, it doesn't take long to feel the overwhelm of holiday system overload, just when the mood of the day calls for merry and bright. As a remedy to seasonal splurges, include a salad of roasted mushrooms, warm grains, and baby spinach into your menu this week.

Making the Roasted Mushroom, Grain and Spinach Salad

plate of spinach and mushroom salad with a bite on the fork.

This quick little main-course salad starts with four easy-to-come by ingredients and a light but flavorful lemon vinaigrette. The vinaigrette is made even better by using Meyer lemons, just coming into peak season.

Here I go on about celery again. Celery adds an essential textural crunch to this dish, and a bit of delicious freshness that you will welcome to your winter plate. I view this as this as a subtle necessity.

In the extraordinary Pacific Northwest food playground we have easy access to an array of cultivated and wild mushrooms. One trial of this recipe I used a shiitake-only approach. Another trial used a melange of chestnut, oyster, shiitake, and crimini mushrooms. I loved it both ways. If you can only access white buttons or brown criminis, please use them! Your dish will be as delicious as ever.

You have a lot of running room when it comes to the grain you use in your roasted mushroom salad. I used Purple Valley Barley, an organic product from my local Lonesome Whistle Farm. Lonesome Whistle also carries wheat berries, emmer (a farro) and oat groats that would be perfect. If you are new to this type of thing and eat gluten, I suggest starting with pearled barley, or just jump right in and try one of the above grains. If you eat gluten-free, give buckwheat groats or brown rice a try.

What Wine Should I Serve with Roasted Mushroom, Grain, and Spinach Salad?

2013 Artisanal Wine Cellars Oregon Pinot Noir Dukes Family Vineyards, Eola-Amity Hills.

I started off suggesting a mushroom, warm grain, and spinach salad as a detoxifying healthy choice, so maybe through the holidays consider a tonic of pomegranate juice and sparkling water? Or not! I highly suggest the Artisanal Wine Cellars 2015 Dukes Family Vineyard Pinot Noir. Tom and Patty Feller, and their daughter, Mia, are a family operation dedicated to handcrafted expressive wines. The grapes in this bottle were grown by Pat and Jackie Dukes of Dukes Family Vineyard. We view the Artisanal's Pinot Noirs to be beautiful wines at incredible values.

Other Holiday Self-Care Recipe Ideas

Humble Pasta with Beans + Mushrooms: Get the Recipe
Healing Chickpea + Orzo Bowl in Ginger Broth: Get the Recipe
Deconstructed Borscht Bowl: Get the Recipe

Roasted Mushroom, Grain, and Spinach Salad

Course: Main Dish, Quick + Easy, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Pacific Northwest
Dietary: Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Vegan
Preparation: Fast + Easy, Roasting
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4
Roasted mushrooms, warm chewy grain, and fresh spinach dressed in the best ever lemon vinaigrette. This fantastic fast and easy layered salad is hearty enough for satisfying cool weather meals, light enough to counterbalance seasonal feasts and spurges.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • lb. mushrooms of your choice, singularly or in combination crimini, shiitake, chestnut, chanterelle, hedgehog, button, etc.
  • 5 stalks celery, and leaves if your head has them
  • 1 cup whole grain of your choice, prepared according to package directions and kept warm* barley; emmer, spelt, or einkorn farro; wheat berries; oat or buckwheat groats; brown, black, purple, red, or wild rice, etc.
  • 8-10 oz. fresh baby spinach
  • lemon vinaigrette, recipe below
  • zest of 2 lemons, in strips

Best Ever Lemon Vinaigrette

  • ½ cup lemon juice, Meyer lemon preferred, zested first about 2 large lemons
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or very finely minced
  • 1 shallot, finely minced
  • tsp. maple syrup
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400° convection. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray it with oil or non-stick spray.
  • Begin cooking your chosen grain according to package directions. (For example, quick-cooking par cooked farro from Trader Joes takes 10 minutes to cook; unhulled barley takes up to 40 minutes.) Once it is cooked, keep it warm while the other steps come together.
  • Prepare the Best Ever Lemon Vinaigrette, recipe below.
  • Wipe mushrooms clean and trim them if necessary. If you are using shiitakes, remove the stems. Leave the small ones whole, cut the medium-sized ones in half, and the largest ones into quarters for similarly sized pieces that will roast at the same rate. Place them in a heap on the prepared baking sheet. Spoon about ¼ of the lemon vinaigrette over the mushrooms. Use your hands to toss the mushrooms in the vinaigrette, coating each piece lightly and evenly. Spread the mushroom pieces out on the pan, and place in the oven. Roast for 12 minutes, remove from the oven and stir. Spread them out again and roast them for another 10 minutes or so until they are deeply colored and their juices have almost evaporated. Don't leave them much longer than this or they will lose their tenderness.
  • While the mushrooms are roasting, thinly slice the celery and set aside. When the grains are cooked and drained, stir in ¼ of the vinaigrette and continue to keep gently warm. Place the spinach on the platter or individual plates.
  • When the mushrooms are done roasting, add the sliced celery and give it a good toss. Spoon the dressed grains in the center of the plate, and top with the mushroom/celery mixture. Drizzle a little more of the vinaigrette over the layered salad.** Garnish with strips of lemon zest, which are not only eye-catching, but add a delicious flavor note. Serve while warm.

Make the Best Ever Lemon Vinaigrette

  • Combine all ingredients on a pint-sized jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake until the salt and maple syrup are dissolved. Shake before each use.

Notes

*I've made this recipe using organic locally-grown barley, with buckwheat groats, and with a package of "10-Minute Farro" sometimes found at Trader Joes. Follow the package directions for any grain you use for both serving size and cooking times. 
**You will have a little of the vinaigrette left over. Don't be sad about this-- use it on your next kale or lettuce salad, on top of baked or broiled fish, or to dress a pan of roasted vegetables. 
When Meyer lemons are in season, be sure to use them. The typical Eureka or Lisbon lemons are wonderful, too, but Meyers offer a step up in flavor.
I recently found that the water that remains when cooking whole-grain barley is delicious as a sipper. Cook the barley "pasta-style" floating freely in a pot of water, and reserve the water. It's as tasty as any stock, and can be used as a soup base or warming cup. 
This recipe is easily halved and easily doubled. If you double it, use two sheet pans to roast the larger amount of mushrooms. 
 
Overhead image of serving dish full or golden pumpkin chicken sausage orecchiette.

Are you ready for a true confession?

I rarely cook from a recipe. The first time I made this Pumpkin + Homemade Chicken Sausage Pasta there was no script. I tell you this so you understand my process of getting a recipe from my brain to your screen-- one that I know will work for you at home and that you can trust. A recipe that will hopefully make it onto your table.

How an Idea Becomes a Recipe

A new recipe concept starts with thinking and dreaming about the flavors, colors, scents, and textures of ingredients. This work happens when I'm asleep and when I'm awake-- all the time! All that I have learned in over 50 years of cooking and eating informs how a new recipe idea comes together.

Step One

Intuition led the way when I first made this marigold Pumpkin + Homemade Chicken Sausage Pasta, like with most things I cook. I found it warm and comforting. It was delicious enough to share, and didn't take a fortnight to make, and so on to trial number two.

Step Two

The second run is where I pay keen attention to quantities, timing, and cooking nuances you might want to know that will ensure success. Paper and pen are right next to me noting details as I work it through. At this stage I ask myself some hard questions: Is this really the kind of recipe you might want. Does this recipe create a solution for you? Will it delight you and your family and guests? Is it a thing you might really make at home? How can I instill confidence and cheerlead you through the steps?

Pumpkin + Homemade Chicken Sausage Orecchiette in a serving dish on table with table runner and napkins.
Pumpkin + Homemade Chicken Sausage Orecchiette

Step Three

When I agreed with my initial idea that you might really like this recipe, I moved on to a third Pumpkin + Chicken Sausage Pasta trial. Once again I prepare the recipe again from my notes, writing down any new thoughts or learnings that come. This is the step where I photograph the process using natural light and no filters-- no spin or tricks. Then off I go to write up the recipe in standard format for you.

Lastly and most importantly, I invite your feedback. If a recipe step is unclear, if there is something that you loved or that didn't go right, or if you have an idea that you tried that made it even better, I'm all ears! Please email me at pam@101milekitchen.com. I warmly welcome your comments on the post, too. Every time you leave a star rating on the recipe you help others find it through the Google maze. I value that, as well. In short, you are at the center of my work.

Making the Pumpkin + Homemade Chicken Sausage Pasta

Please don't let the idea of making sausage intimidate you. It is as fast and easy as adding a few herbs and spices to some purchased ground meat. Try it with ground pork or turkey if you prefer. I just happen to like the lightness of the chicken with this ample portion of pasta. Casings or fancy techniques are not called upon. This particular spice blend was borrowed from a recipe I wrote about years ago.

The sausage recipe is versatile. Roll it into meatballs. Brown it and use it on pizza, salad or in other pastas. Form it into patties to snuggle into a bun or next to your breakfast eggs.

Pumpkin puree is easy to do at home. Click here for link to a Facebook Live video of me explaining the easy process of making pumpkin puree from scratch. Laugh along with me at my very first and awkward Facebook Live tutorial! However, feel free to use canned pumpkin puree if that works best for you. The recipe uses two cans of solid-pack pumpkin puree (just one if you want to cut the recipe in half.) Recipes that aren't scaled to use an entire can of something that will otherwise go to waste are simply annoying.

Wine Pairing with Pumpkin + Chicken Sausage Pasta

When you are looking for a wine-friendly autumn dish, Pumpkin + Homemade Chicken Sausage is it. A light Italian or Rhone red would be lovely, or any number of dry white wines. Award-winning Abacela Albarino 2020 from Oregon's Umpqua Valley is just lovely with the dish. You'll find this light and dry Albarino with no residual sugar and just 13% alcohol, to be a beautifully complimentary weight for this lighter pasta. Fresh fruit and floral aromas and a nice acidity bring the experience into graceful balance.

Other Pumpkin Recipes to Try This Fall

Savory Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Pumpkin Black Bean Soup Two Ways

serving dish full or golden pumpkin chicken sausage orecchiette

Pumpkin + Chicken Sausage Pasta

Course: Main Dish, Quick + Easy
Season: Bounty (August - October), Mist (November - March)
Dietary: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 6
Little orecchiette ears cuddle bits of scratch-made chicken sausage and silky pumpkin sauce. Quick and easy, done in 45 minutes.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

Chicken Sausage Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground chicken or ground turkey
  • tsp. dried oregano
  • tsp. fennel seeds
  • tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 to 1½ tsp. red pepper flake
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil

Pasta and Sauce Ingredients

  • 1 lb. orecchiette or other small pasta use gluten free pasta if you choose
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 3 cups pumpkin puree (two 15 oz. cans)
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 bunch curly or lacinato kale, large ribs removed, chopped into 1" pieces
  • salt + pepper to taste

Instructions

Make the Sausage

  • Crumble the ground chicken into a mixing bowl. In a small bowl, mix remaining herbs and spices. Sprinkly the herbs and spices over the ground chicken and drizzle with the olive oil. Rinse your hands in cold water and gently knead the spices into the ground chicken until thoroughly combined. Set aside.

Make the Pasta and Sauce

  • Put a large pot of generously salted water on to boil for the pasta. While the water comes to a boil, in a wide pan brown the sausage mixture in olive oil-- enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Stir frequently, breaking up the sausage into bite-sized bits. This should take 6-8 minutes. Remove cooked sausage and juices to a plate and set aside.
  • In the same wide pan heat another swirl of olive oil. Saute the minced shallot in the olive oil until tender and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the pumpkin, white wine, and salt to taste. Stir together and heat until gently bubbling.
  • When the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook according to package directions. This may happen before or after the pumpkin mixture has come together.
  • When the pasta is cooked al dente (it will finish cooking in the sauce, so don't overcook it!) reserve 2 cups of the pasta cooking water and drain the pasta. (Don't forget this step, as it helps make a beautiful silky sauce!) Drain the pasta and return it to its cooking pot.
  • Add the chopped kale and cooked sausage and its juices back into the pan with the pumpkin mixture and stir in one cup of the pasta water. Scrape the sausage/pumpkin mixture into the cooked pasta and stir. Add enough more of the reserved pasta water to create a smooth, silky sauce that evenly coats the pasta. The pasta will continue to absorb the liquid, so be generous. Adjust salt and pepper. Serve in a large serving dish or in individual pasta bowls.

Notes

It is conceivable to garnish this dish with grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, however my cheese-loving husband says this is the "cheesiest pasta with no cheese" he's ever eaten! Omitting it makes the dish dairy-free. 
If you'd prefer, you can use store-bought hot Italian chicken sausage, but this is such an easy and delicious sausage recipe I do hope you'll give it a try. 
 
Platter Parsnip Poutine + Rich Mushroom Gravy on table with wine glasses and bottle of wine.

Parsnip Poutine + Rich Mushroom Gravy involves roasting quartered parsnips until partly chewy, partly crispy. A brown gravy smothers all good poutines. This one is a rich mushroom gravy redolent with shallots and herbs. Top the poutine off with Beaver Classic cheese curds, a project of Oregon State University's College of Agricultural Sciences, or any cheese curd or melting cheese you chose.

This recipe is designed for a very special group of people who started out as neighbors and became dear friends. Ever since we moved to the 101-Mile Kitchen we gather frequently to relax, shoot the breeze, eat and drink. This recipe is a thank you to these amazing souls who have kept my heart from drooping during the last 20 months of living in an upside down world, and to the universe for putting us in each other's paths.

Besides being funny, smart, and caring, our neighbors all enjoy cooking great food and drinking nice wine. (There might be a splash of bourbon here and there, too.) Sometimes we have a full-on meal, but most often we meet over easy noshes, charcuterie, spreads and dips, and casual dishes. I can't wait to make this poutine for them.

Overhead closeup photo of Parsnip Poutine with Rich Mushroom Gravy.

What is the Best Pairing?

While it makes a terrific main course at its heart poutine is bar food and doesn't need a precious pairing. I'd suggest a Southern Rhone style blend. This time I served the poutine with a very inexpensive ($13) 2017 Château Saint-Estève Cuvée Classique Corbières Rouge-- a nice old world 60% Grenache- 40% Syrah blend. It is lively, with whispers of herbs and deep fruit that compliment the umami and herbal flavors in the gravy.

Quady North GSM from Oregon's Rogue Valley and Reininger Helix SoRho from Washington are some of our favorite American GSM producers.

Of course most ales and beers are also delightful with poutine.

Making the Poutine + Gravy

Image of all the ingredients needed to make the parsnip poutine + rich mushroom gravy: parsnips, dried mushrooms, rosemary, shallot, flour, thyme, garlic, and cheese curds.

Parsnip Poutine + Rich Mushroom Gravy is another of those one-hour wonders. It takes maybe ten minutes to prep the ingredients, 16 minutes in the oven to get the parsnips on their tender and crunchy way while the mushrooms rehydrate, and another 15 or 20 minutes to make the gravy while the parsnips are finishing off. A foil-lined sheet pan, a large pan, a knife, and a bowl are the only tools used so clean-up is speedy.

Parsnips and shallots grow just about anywhere, so they should fit in to most people's imaginary 101-mile sourcing radius. You can find dried Porcini mushrooms at many groceries and online. My favorite source is Pistol River Mushroom Farm in Southern Oregon. Dried mushrooms seem expensive until you realize that one ounce of dried mushrooms is equal to 8 ounces of fresh. The dark color of the soaking liquid becomes the intensely flavored broth for the gravy-- something a fresh mushroom just can't do.

As an aside, tuck this mushroom gravy recipe away to use in many other ways. I can't wait to ladle it onto a split and fluffed baked potato one cold winter's day.

Parsnip Poutine with Rich Mushroom Gravy on a platter, surrounded by wine bottle and glasses.

Parsnip Poutine + Rich Mushroom Gravy

Course: Appetizer, Main Dish
Season: Bounty (August - October), Mist (November - March)
Dietary: Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free, Vegetarian
Preparation: One Pot/One Pan, Roasting
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6
You'd never know there was no meat in this rich silky poutine gravy, and the crunchy, chewy roasted parsnips take it to new but familiar places. A fantastic main or "bar food" course for vegans and omnivores alike.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 lb. parsnips
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms, or other dried cooking mushroom
  • 12 oz. shallot, approximately 4 large peeled and sliced ½" thick
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish
  • tablespoons GF One-for-One flour, rice flour, or all-purpose flour
  • salt and pepper
  • ¼ lb. cheese curds, or goat cheese

Instructions

For the Parsnips

  • Preheat the oven to 400° convection and line a baking sheet with foil.
  • Trim and peel the parsnips. Quarter them lengthwise, and if they are especially thick, cut them again into eighths. Lay them out on the foil lined baking sheet, and drizzle them generously with olive oil. Toss them with your hands to evenly cover them in the olive oil, and spread them out flat at much as possible. Sprinkle them lightly with salt and black pepper. Bake for 16 minutes, and them flip them over. Reduce the oven heat to 350°. Sprinkle again with salt and pepper, and drizzle olive oil on any parts that look parched. Sprinkle the rosemary leaves over the parsnips and return to the oven for another 16-20 minutes. Check them often for doneness-- the thick tops will be browned and tender, the thin ends will be well browned and somewhat crispy.

For the Mushroom Shallot Gravy

  • As soon as the parsnips are in the oven, place the dried porcini in a 4-cup measuring cup or bowl, and cover with hot tap water to the 3-cup mark. Set aside.
  • Heat enough olive oil over medium-high heat to generously cover the bottom of a sauteuse or large pan. Slide in the sliced shallots and leave without turning until the bottoms are browned. Stir, flipping them over, and again allow them to brown. After the first ten minutes add the minced garlic, thyme, and a 4-finger pinch of salt. Continue the browning process until the shallots are completely tender but not mushy, and have a good amount of browned caramelization throughout.
  • Stir in the flour, and continuously stir until the flour is well incorporated and beginning to stick to the pan. Stir for about three minutes.
  • Gradually ladle in the soaked mushrooms and their dark brown soaking liquid, stirring between ladlefuls, until it it incorporated. You will see the gravy begin to thicken immediately-- stir throughout this process to avoid any lumps.
  • Stirring frequently, bring the gravy to a boil, and add some more salt. There should be about one teaspoon total in the gravy, or to taste. Add a very generous amount of black pepper to season. Allow the gravy to bubble and thicken for about 6 minutes.

Bring it All Together

  • Arrange the roasted parsnips on a large warmed platter in a spiky spoke-like fashion. Ladle the hot gravy in the center. Arrange the cheese curds over the gravy, and top with a bunch of thyme for garnish. Serve while piping hot.
A colorful plate of fajitas with green avocado tomatillo salsa.

Back in the '80s we thought we were so cool to make fajitas at home. Tex-Mex was a new rage and it became a fun new party food. Back in those days, we made fajitas with a thick London broil, sliced and then marinated, each slice grilled individually. The peppers (only green bells were readily available in those days) and onion were flash-sauted on the stovetop. What did we know?

Thinking of fajitas immediately brings back the scents of onions and peppers cooking, the sounds of laughter with friends, little kids running around everywhere. It's clearly time to revisit fajita making and zhoosh it up a little.

A colorful plate of fajitas and salsa, and a glass of rose.

The Marinade and the Meat

Swapping bavette steak (also called sirloin flap) for the London broil is a nice improvement from the way-back machine version. Bavette comes from the bottom of the sirloin section of a beef near the flank and has a texture very similar to flank or skirt steak. Its nice marbling offers a wonderful flavor, and it is infinitely more tender than the good ol' London broil ever hoped to be.

To highlight the texture of the meat and ensure it's tenderness, but sure to slice it thinly and against its grain. The dotted lines in this diagram show the inherent grain of the meat. The knife shows the direction the blade should cut through it to go against the grain. This way, it becomes much more enjoyable to chew.

A diagram of how to cut a steak agross the grain.

Bavette lends itself to a good bath in a marinade, absorbing its flavors well which this marinade delivers. Four easy ingredients-- fresh lime juice, a handful of cilantro, garlic, salt, and a quick whiz in a food processor are all you need.

A very hot grill lets you achieve a flavorful sear without overcooking. The wind was blowing hard the day I photographed this and my grill grates just couldn't get hot enough to lay down those gorgeous char lines. Such is the life of a home cook.

The Peppers and Onion

A rainbow of sliced peppers and white onion on a cutting board.
Use a good mix of peppers for a flavor, texture, and color explosion!

The updated version goes way beyond green bell peppers. The end-of-summer treasure trove of colorful peppers makes it easy to stuff your fajitas with a balance of flavor and color. Use all the colors! Reds, oranges, yellows, chartreuse, grassy greens and deep greens mixes means you'll be including the array of sweet, hot, mild, earthy, bright flavors.

The onions should be white. Period. Clean and crisp is best here.

Now is the time to invest in a grill pan if you don't already have one, as they should be on end-of-season sales. Cut your vegetables to size-- a mix of strips and rings is fun and beautiful-- and toss them into a pre-heated grill pan that has first been sprayed with a cooking oil spray. Blast them with a good amount of heat-- you want them to begin to char without overcooking. Char for flavor, but still with some good crunch for texture.

The Avocado Tomatillo Salsa

A bowl of green avocado-tomatillo salsa.
Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa

Let's straighten this out right away: This is not guacamole. One bite and you will see the difference. This simple element could easily be the star of the show. Avocado, tomatillo, and little cilantro if you want, garlic, and salt gets quickly pureed in the food processor happens in minutes start to finish. Because the base ingredients are the same, you don't even have to wash the food processor bowl out first.

You'll want to add this four-ingredient salsa to your go-to list. It is so good on everything. Everything. Rice bowls, snacking with chips, tacos, mixed with some chopped cooked chicken and a few crunchy vegetables for a new chicken salad, potatoes, eggs; you name it.

I'm so happy to have rediscovered homemade fajitas. A few ingredient additions, and grilling the peppers and onions fills the air with that unmistakable fajita scent. I'll definitely make this new and improved '20s version for gatherings coming up.

A colorful plate of fajitas with green avocado tomatillo salsa.

Tex-Mex Beef Fajitas + Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa

Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Season: Bounty (August - October), Evergreen (April - July), Mist (November - March)
Dietary: Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free
Preparation: Grill
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4
Sizzling grilled beef and the aroma of grilled peppers topped with the best of salsas you will want to add to your repertoire. This zhooshed-up version of the '80s classic is easy to scale for gatherings, family meals, or just yourself.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

For the Meat, Peppers, and Marinade

  • 3 limes, juiced
  • 4-5 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
  • ½ bunch fresh cilantro leaves and stems
  • salt to taste
  • pounds Bavette (sirloin flap) steak, or skirt steak
  • pounds mixed peppers (red, yellow and orange bells, Hatch, poblano, Hungarian, banana, etc.) Use what the garden or farmers market is offering!
  • 2 medium white onions
  • 12 taco-sized flour tortillas

Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa

  • 3 avocados, ripe
  • 1 pound tomatillos, papery husks removed and washed
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
  • ½ bunch fresh cilantro (optional)
  • ½-1 jalapeno, roughly chopped
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  • For the Marinade
  • Add the first four ingredients to the bowl of a food processor. Whirl, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until well blended and the cilantro is just shy of smooth. Place the Bavette steak in a one-gallon zip-lock bag and pour in the marinade. Place in the refrigerator and allow to marinate at least one and not more than four hours, turning and smooshing the bag occasionally to distribute the marinade.
  • Prep the peppers and onions and set aside until time to grill.
  • Heat a gas grill to high (about 500°) and let the grates get very hot. For a charcoal grill, build a bed of charcoal large enough to cook your grill pan of vegetables and the steak over hot direct heat. Place the grill pan on the grates while the grill heats.
  • Start the vegetables first: Spray your hot grill pan with cooking spray (stand back and be very careful to avoid flames) and scoot all the vegetables into it. Do not disturb the vegetables for 2-3 minutes to allow some charring before turning them. Do this several times throughout the cooking to get a nice char without overcooking the vegetables. depending on the heat of your grill, the size of your grill pan, and the amount of vegetables, this can take 10-20 minutes.
  • When the vegetables are about 5 minutes from being ready, spray the grates where the meat will cook, and place the meat on the grill. Again, do not disturb the meat to allow for great charring. After 2-3 minutes, check for char and flip. Repeat on the second side. It is very easy to overcook this thinner cut of meat, which may render it tough, so again, err on the side of caution.
  • While the meat is resting, heat a skillet to medium-high. Toast the tortillas until they are warm, soft, and beginning to blister, flipping once, about a total of 1 minute each. Slice the steak thinly across the grain. Pile peppers and onions and sliced steak into the tortillas and top with the avocado-tomatillo salsa. Serve!

For the Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa

  • Toss all ingredients into the bowl of your food processor. Pulse at first until the ingredients start moving freely, then whirl until a creamy pureed consistency. Refrigerate until serving. Don't be afraid to make a double batch, as this creamy/tangy salsa is divine on so many things. It keeps well for about three days in your fridge, if it lasts that long.
Top down shot of wood platter with black beluga lentils, grilled nectarine halves, and white burrata dressed in vinaigrette.
Beautiful Black Beluga Lentil, Grilled Nectarine + Burrata Salad

I've been experimenting with the design Rule of Threes in my cooking. Used in graphic design, interior design, and fashion-- really anywhere design concepts are applied-- the principle is that things arranged in groups of three are more appealing, evocative, and satisfying.

Long ago, it is said, Nordstrom sales associates were required to dress this way-- skirt, blouse, sweater; slacks, shirt, vest; dress, boots, scarf, etc. Accessories were the grace notes added to the rule of threes formula. I've begun to think this is true for the food on a plate as well.

Not only does this method of cooking work from a taste and visual point of view, but it is actually pretty easy to pull together a dynamic dish using this concept.

beluga lentil, grilled nectarine, and burrata salad arranged on an orange plate.

Beluga Lentil, Grilled Nectarine + Burrata Salad

In this 30-minute dish the triad of warm earthy lentils, smoky-sweet nectarines, and cool creamy burrata is more than the sum of its parts. Each of the parts requires very little or no preparation. The simple vinaigrette acts like the jewelry that ties the whole ensemble together.

The rule of threes concept worked perfectly in this recent red pepper, white bean, and feta recipe, too. The smoky bright red peppers, the earthy light white beans, and sharp tangy feta create a synergy that is tied together with a crown of herb sauce. Magnificent, yet simple.

Mise en place of ingredients for the beluga lentil, grilled nectarine, and burrata salad.

It only looks challenging! Make Beluga Lentil, Grilled Nectarine + Burrata Salad soon for an ever so delicious, beautiful, fancy-fast-easy brunch, lunch, or dinner. Make it vegan by omitting the burrata, and it is still delicious. Serve it alongside meat, or enjoy it as a vegetarian main course.

How can you use this Rule of Threes concept in your cooking and meal planning? I'd love to hear about your ideas and experiments!

Beluga Lentil, Grilled Nectarine + Burrata Salad

Course: Breakfast + Brunch, Main Dish, Quick + Easy, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Pacific Northwest
Season: Bounty (August - October)
Dietary: Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Vegetarian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 3
This triad of earthy lentils, smoky-sweet nectarines, and creamy burrata is more than the sum of its parts. Quick to make but ever so delicious and versatile, make this soon for a fancy-easy brunch, lunch, or dinner. Make it vegan by omitting the burrata, and it's still delicious.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

For the Vinaigrette

  • 1 medium shallot finely mined
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 5-6 fresh thyme branches enough to make about 2 tesaspoons leaves
  • salt + pepper about 1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste
  • 3-4 Tablespoons vinegar white balsamic, peach, champagne, sherry, or rice vinegars all work here
  • 3-4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

For the Beluga Lentil, Grilled Nectarine + Burrata Dish

  • 1 cup black Beluga lentils
  • 1 bay leaf, fresh if possible
  • 3 ripe nectarines, halved and pitted
  • 1 stalk leafy celery, leaves finely slices, stalk finely diced
  • 4 ounces burrata, drained

Instructions

First Make the Vinaigrette

  • In a small jar with a tight-fitting lid, place the minced shallot and Dijon mustard. Stir gently. Add about half of the thyme leaves stripped from the stems, salt and pepper. Cover the shallot mixture with the vinegar of your choice. Eyeballing it, add enough olive oil to double the volume in the jar, or about the same in height to the shallots and vinegar. Shake until the salt is mostly dissolved and the mustard is thoroughly incorporated. Set aside.

Now Make the Beluga Lentil, Grilled Nectarines + Burrata

  • Light or preheat your grill for a hot, direct fire/heat.
  • In a medium saucepan, place the lentils, bay leaf, a pinch of salt, and 3 1/2 cups water. Bring lentils to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring every 5 minutes or so, for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are al dente, but not mushy and broken. Begin chcking their doneness at the 15 minute mark.
  • While the lentils are cooking, place the halved nectarines on a preheated grill over direct heat. Oil the grates first, and place the nectarine halves cut side down. Do not move them until the 3 minute mark, and check for rich grill marks. They may need another minute or so to become deeply marked. Flip them and grill another 3 minutes until the skins have grill marks, for a total of 6-7 minutes. Don't let the nectarines overcook-- you just want them warmed through and kissed with flavor from the grill.
  • When the lentils are done, drain off any remaining liquid. Sitr in the diced celery and leaves, reserving some of the leaves for garnish. Mound this onto plates or a serving platter.
  • Arrange the nectarines on to mounded lentils. You may chose to halve some of them.
  • Place the burrata on top of the lentils. Sprinkle the remaining thyme and celery leaves over the top and serve.

Notes

This recipe serves three people as a main course, or six people as a side dish.
This salad is especially luxurious served warm, but equally delightful served chilled, especially if you need to make the components ahead of time.
Peaches would be just as lovely in this dish as the nectarines. Use what you have or prefer.
Recipe star ratings are very welcome and appreciated. Thank you for taking the time to provide your feedback this way. 

Hello there, and how are you? Are you getting enough summer joy?

I've been thinking about all I want to soak up before summer is over. Here is what I am inspired to do before the season changes:

  • Eat all the canteloupes. I'm always sad when there are no more for the year.
  • Read a book in the hammock, start to finish. Not in one day, but over a few, maybe napping between pages.
  • Star gaze. The Perseids meteor shower peaks this week. Check out SkyView Lite, a free app that makes the constellations and planets come alive. When observing the night sky I feel very small, at once frightening and comforting.
  • Make more summer fruit sorbet, like this one, and this one. We've had chocolate, apricot, blueberry, and blackberry sorbets this year, too, and I'll share those recipes with you, next summer.
Roasted red peppers, white beans, Feta, and green herb sauce

And more to make sure of:

  • Eat as many grilled hamburgers, vegetables, and fish as I can.
  • Enjoy every meal outside. Mornings on the porch are charming. Mid-day snacks in the shade of the trees are refreshing. Dinners looking out at the valley are inspiring. Soon we won't have a choice but to eat inside.
  • Invite as many outdoor gatherings as we can with friends and family. Nobody knows what's going to happen to our ability to gather come fall, so I will soak up all the community I can now.
  • Show my appreciation to farmers by visiting as many farmer markets and stands as I can. Farmers are working so hard to bring their beautiful bounty to us. (See the Find a Farmers Market Near You links in the footer of this page for a market near you.)
ingredients and tools for roasted red pepper, white bean, feta, nd simple herb sauce

Roasted Peppers, White Beans, Feta, and Herb Sauce

Using the grill to get quick and easy meals done is another summer joy I can't get enough of. This recipeless recipe is long on gourmet attitude, short on effort to actualize. Eight ingredients, three of which are herbs, and 15 minutes at the grill and, viola, you are a summer foods genius.

mise en place for roasted red peppers, white beans, feta, and herb sauce

What are you doing to make the summer last? What will you miss about summer when it's passed?

Plates of roasted red peppers, white beans, feta, and green herb sauce.

Roasted Red Peppers, White Beans, Feta + Simple Herb Sauce

Course: Main Dish, Quick + Easy
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Season: Bounty (August - October), Mist (November - March)
Dietary: Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Long on gourmet attitude, short on effort and time, this recipeless guide makes summer dinner go easy. Eight ingredients, under 30 minutes, and you are a cooking genius! Use the same guide in the autumn using your oven to roast the peppers and warm the Feta and beans.
Print Recipe

Equipment

  • Grill

Ingredients

Simple Herb Sauce

  • 1 cup each Fresh basil, parsley, and cilantro leaves and tender stems, packed and lightly chopped
  • ¼ cup Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

Peppers, White Beans + Feta

  • 1 Red, orange, or yellow bell pepper per person
  • 3 ounces Feta, block-style per person
  • 1 cup Cannelini or other white beans per person
  • Smoked paprika, Aleppo pepper, or Espelette optional

Instructions

Simple Herb Sauce

  • Place all sauce ingredients in a food processor or blender. Whiz or whirl them all together with a healthy five-finger pinch or salt and a healthy cracking of black pepper until it is creamy and pesto-like, but not ablsolutely pureed. Add a tablespoon or two of water to loosen the sauce, if desired. It's nicest if it puddles slightly rather than stands at attention. Set aside.

Peppers, White Beans + Feta

  • Stretch out a double-thick layer of foil big enough to hold the beans and feta in a single layer, folding the edges up to contain juices. If you have a grill basket use it instead, lining it with one layer of foil.
  • Over medium direct heat on a gas or charcoal grill, roast the peppers. Turn them frequently to char the entire outside. If they are burning at all, move them off the heat to cook indirectly, and back and forth to get a nice roasted exterior. The peppers will puff up a bit, and will eventually collapse into beautiful modern art shapes, full of condensed juices that will deliciously spill out when each diner cuts into them. This should take 10-15 minutes, depending on the heat of your grill.
  • About half way through cooking the peppers, place the foil or grill basket on the heat. Add the beans and Feta in one layer, drizzling them lightly with olive oil and sprinkling with the paprika, Aleppo, or Espelette, if using. Allow them to warm, and even brown a little if that happens, while the peppers finish.
  • Move the wrinkly cooked peppers to individual plates or a platter, along with the beans and Feta. Place a big spoonful of simple herb sauce in the center. The peppers will release their warm rich juices into the plate as they are cut into, adding to the sauce. Serve!

Notes

If you are using dried beans, cook according to one of the easy Rancho Gordo methods
If you don't have a grill or make this during cool-weather months, use the same guide with your oven to roast the peppers and warm the beans and Feta. 

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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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