Apricot-Carrot Muffins

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During the summer of 2009, I ventured off to northeastern Washington, to spend a week at an educational cooking school at Quillisascut farm. It was a Slow Food Youth experience, and the week is ingrained in my memory. Myself and a dozen or so other 20-somethings came together from all over the country to spend a few days harvesting fresh produce, making delicious meals from scratch, baking bread in a wood-fired oven, milking goats, making cheese, and learning about the domestic arts in general. For me, it was paradise and the kind of experience that in an ideal world I’d like to recreate for other people on my own farm someday.

During this time of the summer when local apricots are in season and soon-to-be-gone for another year, I remember those few days at Quillisascut. That week, in addition to all of the above, I ate a lot of apricots.

The farm is located in a remote region of Washington state, hours from any major metropolis, and the experience was all about living off what the local region produces. Aside from the foraged huckleberries for breakfast, the only fruit to be had that week was apricots–and there were A LOT of them! I am a snacker by nature and in addition to apricots in our meals, I probably downed between 15 and 20 a day just in passing, because they were uber ripe and in need of being used–and I like to eat!

 

Prior to that experience, I had never had much of a thing for apricots. Sure, I like all fruit and I grew up with grandparents who would bring us boxes of whatever was in season from their nearby orchards. We definitely had gluts of apricots growing up, and my mom would make apricot upside down cake and jam. Yesterday, I called her and she was doing just that!

These days, since Quillisascut, I’m all into the apricot season. In the last couple weeks, I’ve had them in savory grain salads, in breakfast porridge, in these muffins, in a coming-soon vinegar concoction, and I’ve been downing them just as is–which is often the best way!

 

Apricot-Carrot Muffins, makes 6 large or 12 standard muffins
This recipe is an update of one I posted a few years back. It is now gluten and dairy-free. Use the ripest apricots and the sweetest carrots that you can find–you will taste the difference. Feel free to use the original recipe if you have no dietary restrictions. 
 
1 cup gluten-free flour 
3/4 cup oats
1/4 cup oat flour
3/4 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 cup diced fresh apricots
1 cup grated carrots
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. canola oil
3/4 cup almond milk
 
1. Make oat flour by grinding 1/4 cup oats in a food processor until fine.
2. Bring together the flours, oats, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, oil, and milk. Pour into flour mixture.  Give the bowl a couple of turns with a spoon and then stir in the carrots and apricots. Only stir until mixture is just incorporated.
4. Spoon evenly into muffin tins.
5. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F for approximately 20 minutes or until the tops are golden and the insides are set.

Coconut Mint Raspberry Panzanella

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We had a raspberry patch growing up that stretched down the fenceline in our backyard. My siblings and I would spend a good amount of our summers wedged between the barbed wire cattle fence and the berry bushes, grazing. Though we often were given chores that included picking green beans or weeding in the garden, picking raspberries never made the list. We spent so much time picking and eating each red jewel one by one that I can recall only once or twice having a bowl of berries big enough to make their way into the house. Even then, there were usually no more than a small handful reserved for my dad, who didn’t have time to stand around in the backyard and eat berries all day.

 

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If we were lucky enough to have an abundance of berries that made their way inside, they were eaten for breakfast, simply, swimming in a bowl of milk.

 

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These past few years, I have avoided purchasing raspberries, not because I don’t love them, but because I have a tough time justifying shelling out so much for a small punnet that I could have picked and gobbled by the red-stained-handful in a matter of minutes. I always tell myself that as soon as William and I live in a place that is ours, berries will be the first green thing we put into the ground.

 

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I tend to spend a lot of time waiting though, in many areas of my life, and I’ve finally come to the realization that what I sometimes consider to be patience is actually avoidance. Waiting is not always the answer. If not now, when?

Even though we are not yet in a place to plant our own berries, the time to eat them is now, when they’re fresh, in season, and local. By the handful. In salads. Because raspberries can do more than liven up sweet things; more too than liven up a bowl of milk.

 

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Coconut-Mint Raspberry Panzanella, serves 3-4
This salad was inspired by all the ingredients I had on hand, and when allowed to sit out at room temperature for an hour or so before eating, the raspberries ooze their flavor into the dressing and bread. Of the bread, you can use any hearty day-old loaf. I have been making variations of loaves from Jennifer Katzinger’s Gluten-Free and Vegan Bread. All the recipes I’ve tried are splendid. The lettuce in this is a mix of gentle leaves, though if you’re in the mood for something heartier, any type of mild-flavored green should do the trick. 
 
2-3 cups cubed hearty bread
1 Tbs. + 1 tsp. coconut oil, divided
2 cups cooked garbanzo beans
1 medium onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic
2-3 green onions, chopped
3-4 cups lettuce
1 cup raspberries
1/4-1/2 cup sprouts
 
Dressing:
~ 1/2 cup mint leaves, chopped
3 Tbs. orange juice
2 Tbs. rice vinegar
2 Tbs. coconut oil
salt and pepper, to taste
 
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.On on a baking pan, toss the cubed bread with 1 tablespoon of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Once all of the bread is coated, bake for 10-15 minutes or until bread pieces are deep golden brown. Remove from the pan into a large serving bowl.In the same pan used for the bread cubes, toss the onion and whole garlic cloves. Toss them with the remaining teaspoon of oil and some more salt and pepper. Roast for 10-20 minutes or until the onions are golden and getting tender. Remove from the oven, remove the garlic cloves from its skin, and mash. Toss the onions and garlic over the bread cubes. At the same time add in the garbanzo beans.

While the onions are roasting/cooling, make the dressing: Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until the mint is broken into a puree and it becomes a creamy, coconutty mixture. Taste it for seasoning, and adjust if necessary.

In the serving bowl, gently toss in the lettuce, raspberries, and green onions. Spoon the dressing on top and stop when it has as much as you desire (you might have a bit left over). Toss everything together to combine and season to taste with more salt and pepper.

 

 


Raw Buckwheat Porridge with Hazelnuts & Rose Water

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Almost a year ago, I wrote about a new beginning, my desire to meet new people, and to connect to place. Having grown up on a ranch where we were seemingly always connected to neighbors who often shared their honey, lamb, fruit, or eggs while we returned the favor with armfuls of zucchini, beef, and cookies(!), it is natural for me to connect to a place through its food and farmers. Food is precious, unique to place, and meant to be celebrated as such. I’d like for us all to return to that mantra, in whatever way we can best make it so.

 

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I have high aspirations to grow my own, get to know my farmers, and to share the abundance. The truth is though, I live in a tiny dark apartment under a canopy of giant oak trees. It is shady and I haven’t even been able to successfully grow herbs in the windowsill. I have a community garden plot full of packed clay soil, but at least it’s growing something. (Lots of things, actually!) I’m working on it.

 

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Because life also has room for trade, trying flavors from afar, and celebrating with foods that just won’t grow nearby, I have been finding ways to integrate local flavors into even the most international of themes. It is a balance and I’m still fine-tuning. Mostly though, I’m excited that the Willamette Valley is seeing a resurgence in local grains and pulses–and millers!

 

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Though there are dreams aplenty ’round these parts, I’m holding out for a larger piece of land for my buckwheat and oat plot. In the meantime, I’m excited to be trying out a couple different varieties of “dry beans” in the garden. There is more to eating locally these days than fruits and vegetables–and that is exciting!

How do you connect to your community?

 

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This porridge is raw, Middle-Eastern and June-inspired, and features edible flowers as part of this month’s Recipe Redux theme. There are roses blooming now and the weather has been continuously summer-like. Buckwheat is gluten-free, nutritious, locally grown and processed here (albeit still somewhat seasonally available), and super quick to blitz up on an early summer morning when there is a desire for nutritious, filling, and uncooked.

There are local hazelnuts and honey too, along with rose petals that can be gathered and dried. All together, I’ve gathered the makings of a quick, super delicious breakfast. Top with the berries of the season: Here, we are right at the beginning of blueberries.

 

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Raw Buckwheat Porridge with Hazelnuts and Rose Water
Serves 2–3
 
3/4 cup raw buckwheat groats, soaked overnight 
1 1/2 tsp. rose water
1/2- 3/4 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 Tbs. raw honey
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
blueberries, by the handful 
dried rose petals, to taste 
  • Drain soaked buckwheat and pour into a food processor.  Pulse a few times until the grains are starting to break apart.
  • Measure in the rose water, cardamom to taste, vanilla, and honey. Puree until smooth.
  • Pour out into your container of choice and top with hazelnuts, berries, and rose petals. Enjoy!


The Big Picture + Rainbow Salad

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I’ve been keeping journals since I was at least 10 and I’ve held on to each one, lining them up on a shelf, displayed prominently in our living space. Every once in a while, I pull one off the shelf and read through a few pages. Some are light and comical. Others are filled to the brim with quotes and encouragements, the next with lonely prose. They provide a glimpse into the mind of a typical teenager/21yearold/postcollegegirl. Whatever the mood, they give me incite into the journey towards my present state of mind.

I get a kick out of the 2003-04 journal. Its pages encapsulate the internal chatter of a high school girl–the stream of consciousness about various crushes, the silly happenings that mean nothing and consume her days.

Next there is an entire journal of syrupy poetry that can rival any T. Swift song. It slams me back in the moment of that first year in college, those neighbors and dates I had so quickly forgotten.

 

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Then there is the 2007 journal and my heart breaks for that girl. One after another, the pages ring out her longing for affirmation, even as the experiences she captured illustrate it was so obviously given. That girl couldn’t see her friends, her family, her peers reaching out to her, proclaiming their support, admiration, respect. She couldn’t see past her own insecurities and struggles to figure out where she stood in the grand scheme of things.

Looking back, I feel a world apart from that girl and I’m glad she made it through. As I read through the pages again, I also feel an uncomfortable nudge of awareness. Just as we are all works in progress, that girl of 2007 hasn’t entirely conquered all her battles in the now of 2014.

 

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I still push and expect too much of myself. I want to accomplish it all, get everything right, make the process seem effortless even though I’ve kicked major ass to get here. I’m overcome by self doubt in the moment of making a decision and put off making big ones, big life changing ones, for months and years, all the while stewing about them. I seek clarification that I am enough.

When I talk to my friends and peers, I am reminded I’m not alone in these feelings. I’m reminded that it is okay to fail, good even, and optimism and determination go a long way in helping to get back to work. Progress is slow and there’s a big picture. Life is lived in each moment on the way to our destination.

You can be transformed. Not overnight, but over time…We strive toward a goal, and whether we achieve it or not is important, but it’s not what’s most important. What matters is how we move toward that goal. What’s crucial is the step we’re taking now, the step you’re taking now.  -Scott Jurek
 

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As I reflect back on the journey–the life phases spilling out over the pages of my journals, I’m better able to see the the progress, the intricate beautiful details that make up these moments we are in. I’m better able to pause, grab a deep hug and a cup of tea, and celebrate this phase–this spot in my timeline–and stop worrying so much about the getting there.

Today I’m telling the girl of 2007 and the lady of here and now–and you, my friend reading this: You are loved. You are enough. You don’t have to have it all together. Focus on the step you’re on. You will get there.

You can be transformed. That’s the big picture.

 

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Rainbow Salad, Inspired by Green Kitchen Stories
This salad is a celebration of what is in season and available where I live right now. I often make salads like this one that contain whatever vegetables are in the fridge or are available at the farmers market. This one has carrots, fennel, and easter egg radishes along with spinach, mint, and parsley. Fennel stalks, left over from another meal, are particulary good when chopped like celery and roasted. Reserve the frilly fronds and use them as a garnish. 
 
3/4 cup uncooked brown rice
1/4 cup uncooked wild rice
2 cups cooked garbanzo beans
Stalks from one fennel bulb, chopped into 1-inch pieces, fronds reserved
3-4 carrots, peeled and chunked
1 bunch radishes, quartered
1 drizzle balsamic vinegar
1 drizzle extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1 cup raw walnuts
2-4 cups spinach leaves
large handful parsley
handful of mint leaves
1-2 Tbs. raw honey
1-2 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4-1/2 cup of quick-pickled red onions
more balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste
  • In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups water and rinsed brown and wild rice. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 40-50 minutes until cooked. Set aside to cool.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a baking dish, combine fennel stalks, carrots and radishes. Drizzle and toss with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until nearly soft. In the last five minutes, toss in the walnuts, and let them roast together with the vegetables. Take from the oven and set aside to cool.
  • In a large serving dish, toss the rice mixture, garbanzo beans, roasted vegetables, and the remaining herbs, leaves, and additions. Add more honey, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Top with diced fennel fronds.
Quick-Pickled Onions, recipe adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
4 whole cloves
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. salt
3 Tbs. Sugar
  • In a saucepan, combine the vinegar, bay leaf, cloves, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Add the onion slices, stir, and remove from the heat.
  • Once slightly cool, transfer the mixture to a quart jar or another glass container and chill in the fridge for 1-2 hours before using.
  • They will keep for about a week and can add an awesome tangy flavor to all sorts of things!

White Tea + Rhubarb Cake

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Last week, I celebrated a birthday. It was a very ordinary sort of day with no particular fanfare, leftovers for dinner, and Will at a school event for the evening.  So I enjoyed the evening after work in the garden, planting seeds. And then I made cake.

 

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On your birthday, you are supposed to feel special, or at least that’s what our society tells us–and though the day was particularly ordinary, Ifelt truly blessed and happy from its beginning to end.

Normally, in past years when my birthday didn’t include a big gathering over dinner and cake, I’d feel just a teensy bit like I was missing out on an annual rite. This year something changed, and I felt simply grateful for so very many friends who care and who show it in small ways, regularly. From the kind encouragements, to the brief check-ins and the funny moments where we laugh uncontrollably. Those things, those people, I am grateful for having in my life.

Though the hornblowers, smoke, and light show were left for perhaps another year and turning 27 isn’t exactly an exciting number, I am so joy-filled, so blessed to have gotten to celebrate another one.

 

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Now for cake. I’ve been bent on a rhubarb obsession this past several months, and since it’s spring and rhubarb is at the peak of its season, I’m going to eat it up while it is available! This is White Tea & Rhubarb Cake.  I made a simple rhubarb sauce, then strained it through a sieve and infused just the juice into a loose-leaf white tea. The tea and rhubarb mixture serve as the liquid for this cake. The flavor is very light, very subtle, and quite good. If you’re big on frosting, go ahead and make it–the beautiful pastel pink comes from the rhubarb, not food dye! If you would prefer the white tea and lovely rhubarb flavors to shine through and aren’t big on super sweet, go ahead and foreg0 the frosting. It’s quite nice to eat it simply–and the Rhubarb-Infused White Tea is a treat all on its own!

 

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White Tea + Rhubarb Cake, makes one 6-inch cake
1 3/4 cups Sarah’s gluten free flour blend
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup rhubarb-infused white tea 
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup canola oil
1 Tbs. pure vanilla extract
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 6-inch cake pans with parchment paper. Mix together flour blend, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, pour in the rhubarb + tea mixture. Add the sugar, honey, oil, and vanilla extract. Slowly whisk in the flour mixture. Beat for one minute or until the batter becomes smooth and starts to thicken.
  • Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating half way through. Insert a toothpick into the center if you are uncertain if its done. The toothpick will come out clean.
  • Place on cooling rack, and remove from pans after about 10 minutes. Cool completely before frosting or serving.
Rhubarb-Infused White Tea
3-4 rhubarb stalks, chopped
water
1 Tbs. Loose-leaf white tea, such as Silver Rain
  • Make a rhubarb sauce by simmering rhubarb stalks and a small amount of water (less than 1/4 inch to the bottom of a small saucepan) until the rhubarb has turned into a puree.  With a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth, strain the rhubarb sauce, reserving the bulk of the mixture for another use.
  • Meanwhile, bring water almonst to boiling, and with the tea in an infuser, steep a good 3/4 cup of white tea for a lengthy period of time, until it is strong. Keep in mind that white tea will not get too strong like black tea. The flavor is subtle. Add the rhubarb sauce liquid to the steeped tea until you have 1 1/4 cups.  Measure out 1 cup for the cake, and reserve 1/4 cup for the frosting.
 Tea + Rhubarb Vegan Frosting
1/2 cup vegan butter, such as Earth Balance
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup rhubarb-infused white tea 
  • To make frosting, whip together all of the ingredients, adding a touch more rhubarb liquid for color and moisture, as needed.


Strawberry Rhubarb Pie {Recipe Redux}

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My first year in college, after a long winter of heavy snow and hibernation in semi-remote Eastern Oregon, I trekked home for my first annual Easter weekend visit. I brought my roommate, Christine, and my mom made Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie. After months of food hall meals, it was the best pie I had tasted.

 

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Every pie since has been held to the standard of that memory of tart, sweet, vibrant spring-ness. Nothing compares to the picture in my mind of being home, surrounded by family and a friend, and slowly savoring each bite.

 

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When asked about her strawberry rhubarb pies, and any others for that matter, my mom answers exactly as I would expect and as I expect my grandma would also have answered: “I don’t ever follow the recipe, I just add ingredients until the pan is full and add sugar as needed.” While I concede her reasoning, I’m slightly more type A, and I foolishly think that if only I had that recipe, I could better relive the memory.

 

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Though I was left to my own devices as to the amounts and types of ingredients, my tiny apartment kitchen happens to have a couple pie-baking essentials thanks to my mom and grandma. Like a good luck charm, I always use this pie dish, which mom had the forsight to know I was going to need waaay back when I was in high school. Grandma Neah’s old copy of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook is also a regular kitchen fixture for pie making inspiration, though I’m a bit too much like these ladies to actually follow the recipes. Even so, I’m glad Neah made sure I received it before she passed. With these feel-good implements to boost my confidence in measuring up to that pie, I began.

 

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This year, a full eight years after that first annual Easter weekend trek, I made it home again. Though this pie was decidedly missing from our Sunday table, strawberries were bought and ate, and like firewood, mom loaded me up with a couple armfuls of rhubarb for the road.

 

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The important thing and what I keep holding on to in this sort of strawberry rhubarb tradition, is that family was gathered around, more family than before, and we lived a spring day to rival my memory.

 

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Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Streusal Topping
 
Pastry, adapted from Gluten-Free and Vegan Pie
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup millet flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/3 cup tapioca flour
1/3 cup arrowroot starch
2/3 cup potato starch
1 1/2 Tbs. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup + 2 Tbs. refined coconut oil
2 Tbs. water
1 tsp. vanilla 
3/4 oats
2 Tbs. honey
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
 
Filling
4 cups rhubarb, chopped
2 cups strawberries, chopped
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup brown rice flour
2 Tbs. tapioca flour
1 Tbs. lemon juice
dash of ground ginger
 
To make the crust, measure flours, sugar, and salt into a food processor. Pulse a couple times until they are mixed. Measure in coconut oil and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Then add in water and vanilla until the mixture just comes together. Turn out onto a piece of parchment paper and split the dough into a larger piece (about 2/3 of dough), and a smaller piece.  
 
Roll out the larger piece and fit it into the bottom of a pie pan. If it falls apart in the process, gently piece it back together and flute the edges. Using the tines of a fork, make several stabs into the crust, and then put it into the freezer for about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, put the remaining 1/3 crust back into the food processor, along with the honey, oats, cinnamon and ginger. Pulse until they come together and set aside for the streusal topping.
 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
To make the filling, stir together the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, honey, flours, lemon juice and ginger. Once the bottom crust has chilled, turn the filling into the pan. Evenly spread the streusal topping over the filling and bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling properly. During the bake time, you may need to cover the pie with foil, to prevent excessive browing.
 
If the filling seems a little liquidy at this point, don’t worry.  It will set up nicely once it cools!
 
 


Turkey Sandwich with Carrots, Kale and Dukkah

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Back when I ate gluten and cheese, sandwiches made their way into my life every day. Sometimes more than once. I don’t mean I ate a normal PB&J or ham and cheese. Instead, a cheesey-gooey Tex-Mex, PB & Apricot-Apple with Spinach, Curry Chicken & Apple, Roasted Beets, Hummus & Turkey, or Cranberry Pear Peanut Butter spanned the norm of my sandwich creations. I was obsessed with perfecting my homemade whole wheat bread recipe, and I frequently brought loaves home from my bakery job. My then-roommates regularly commented that, for sandwiches, mine were abnormallybeautiful. With a roomate that worked at a bakery gig, they ate their fair share as well.

Fast forward a few years and I rarely eat a sandwich. If I hadn’t had to forego the gluten, it is safe to say they never would have escaped from my daily ritual!

It just so happens that a dear friend gifted an awesome cookbook to me last year and periodically, when I need a homemade bread and sandwich fix, I bake up a loaf. One such baking episode and a haphazard collection of lonely ingredients in the fridge resulted in this amazing combination for lunch.

In a hurry to get out the door one morning, I pilfered through, came up with kale, carrots and the last bit of sliced turkey. I threw the kale and carrots in a dish and tossed in dukkah for good measure, spread the mustard on the turkey, and packed the bread separately.

Later, I put the whole-shebang together at work.  Holy-moly, I couldn’t believe my tastebuds! We are back in the sandwich-making business.

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First, start with good bread. Make it yourself. Or find a nice bakery. Barter with your neighbor. Please, don’t waste your time with store-bought sliced bread.

 

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Then, smear and sprinkle on a thin layer of dijon mustard and dukkah spice mixture to each slice.

 

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Lay down a thickish layer of the best turkey you can find.

 

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Pile on equal parts chopped kale and shredded carrots.

 

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Carefully sandwich the two pieces of bread together. Slice it in half and eat.

 

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When finished, I completely condone licking your plate clean. :)

 

Turkey Sandwich with Carrots, Kale and Dukkah, makes 1
 
Dukkah is an Egyptian spice mixture with coriander, cumin, and sesame seeds shining through. There are countless recipes for it across the interwebs. I used Deborah Madison’s recipe from Vegetable Literacy. You can also purchase the mixture at Trader Joe’s or other well-stocked grocery stores. 
 
2 slices bread of your choice
dijon mustard
1-2 tsp. Dukkah
2-3 oz. low-sodium deli or leftover roasted turkey
1/2 large carr0t, shredded
1/2-1 cup shredded kale
 

 

 

 


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