The finished salad without the preserved lemons since those made it on at the last-minute and the walnuts since we burnt them
Whenever we travel to Chicago for either Flatstock or the Renegade Craft Fairs, we are lucky enough to stay with our good friends Jason (of Delicious Design League), his lovely wife Margaux and their adorable 18-month old son, Desmond. They are always so incredibly gracious and welcoming to us and staying with them makes being on the road not so uncomfortable. Margaux always cooks or bakes for us, which is one of my favorite parts of our visit. I absolutely love traveling, but being away from my kitchen and home-cooked food is hard, especially since we spend so much time working when we travel, that we rarely get to go out and experience nice restaurants fit for a foodie, so it ends up being a lot of fast eating and festival food. That part of traveling exhausts me.
This trip, since Margaux and I both recently started our own cooking blogs, we decided to make something together, along with our good friend Anne, and post about it on our blogs. Check out Margaux’s blog, Sweet and Savory Kitchens, that she keeps with her Aunt Suzy. I love the way they post and comment on each other’s recipes or take inspiration from each other’s dishes and create their own.
Margaux had made some preserved lemons, when the Meyer lemons were in season this year and has been experimenting with a lot of different Moroccan dishes using them. She really wanted to make a Moroccan inspired dinner for us and I was all for it since I had never cooked Moroccan food. The dish we were both most excited about was this Beet, Orange and Walnut Salad which features the preserved lemons (which coincidentally, we almost forgot at the end). Since Meyer lemons are no longer in season, you could purchase premade preserved lemons from the store, make preserved lemons with regular lemons or you can skip them all together in this salad and it would still be great. Either way, you must try preserved lemons if you never have, they are incredible and bring a level of fresh and tangy flavor that I have never tasted before. I definitely plan on making some preserved lemons next year when they are in season. I can’t wait.
With this Beet, Orange and Walnut Salad, we also made a simple Oven Baked Chicken, which Margaux marinated beforehand with some delicious Moroccan inspired spices. As an additional side we made Margaux’s house staple, Green Rice, which I loved so much that I made it the first day we were home (look for a blog post about that soon).
Being with good friends and/or family, sharing food, cooking and spending time in the kitchen is most definitely one of my favorite things in the world and I cherish those memories and hold them close to my heart. I have memories from being a child and cooking with good friends of the family, with my Yia Yia, my Dad and so many other people whom I love. Those moments, whether you realize it at the time or not, have so much emotion attached to them that you can smell or taste something years later, that you cooked with someone you love and those memories just come flooding back. Preserved lemons will definitely do that for me and always remind me of Margaux and this dinner.
Check out Marguax’s post about this dinner here.
Beet, Orange and Walnut Salad
Me, cutting the beets, which by the way really leave your hands stained
1 lb. beets
Wash beets, pat dry, peel and cut into wedges. Place in a baking dish and lightly coat with olive oil. Cover with foil and bake 45-60 minutes in a 375 degree oven until done. Cool and set aside. The original recipe called for baking the beets whole with the skin on, slipping it off after they come out and cutting them into wedges then. We decided it seemed easier to peel and cut them first.
the walnuts, before they were burnt
1/2 cup walnut halves
pinch of sugar
1 tbsp walnut oil
salt and pepper to taste
Toss all ingredients together and place on a baking sheet. Toast in the 375 degree oven for 5-7 minutes (keep a close eye on them after 5 minutes!!! (We had them on the bottom rack in with the beets and I was in charge of watching them. I definitely burnt them and we didn’t have extra, so had to go without in the salad). Cool. Chop coarsely and set aside.
5 tbsp fresh orange juice
1 tbsp walnut oil
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
we ended up with blood oranges, which we didn’t know until we cut into them, but they were delicious and so beautiful
2 navel oranges
1/4 preserved lemon, diced (optional)
1 head romaine lettuce
Prepare the oranges by cutting off the top and bottom. Cut off the skins with a knife so that no white pith remains. Then cut into sections. Wash the lettuce and either tear or cut into pieces. Dry. Toss the lettuce with half the dressing and place on a platter. Toss the beets with the remainder of the dressing and place on top of the lettuce. Garnish with the orange sections, preserved lemon and walnuts.
Margaux and Anne in the kitchen
Desi being cute.