Forest Feast Fashion: Floral Dress + Floral Rolls

I’ve got another Forest Feast Fashion pairing for you! Wouldn’t you love to nosh on some Floral Summer Rolls while wearing this lovely floral dress by Sonnet James? I would (ha!)

These rolls are one of my favorite things to eat. (So much in fact that my family has been known to make them for me on my birthday!) They are in my entertaining cookbook, The Forest Feast Gatherings. I can usually find the rice paper wraps at my local grocery store in the “international” aisle. As for edible flowers, I like to grow nasturtium seeds (they are really easy), but you can also find edible flowers at the farmers market and even at the grocery store. (I asked my local grocery store produce department to order them and they arrived next day!) If you can’t find any, you can always decorate the rolls inside with basil leaves, mint leaves, rings of red onion, carrot strips, red bell pepper slices or chopped purple cabbage.

TO MAKE THE ROLLS:

More instructions are on the image below but simply soak the rice paper rounds in water for a minute, lay out on a cutting board, then fill with thinly sliced salad ingredients in the middle of the round. Musts for me are lettuce (crunch!), avocado, red onion and fresh mint. But you can add anything that’s cut up small enough. Fold the ends in and roll up like a burrito!

I recently spent a weekend on a retreat with Whitney, the founder of the dress company Sonnet James. In honor of Mother's Day, I thought I'd share her inspiring story. She started her company on her own as a newly single mother with 2 very young boys.  After they'd go to bed at night, she read business books and taught herself to make patterns and sew. Later, she went door-to-door at factories in San Francisco until she found a place that could ethically produce the dresses for her. Her goal was to make play dresses for moms, and that's just what she does! She started with some Kickstarter money and then a blog post by Design Mom ignited initial orders, but after a recent appearance on Shark Tank, she now works with the investor Sara Blakely of Spanx (another super-inspiring biz-mom!) and her business is thriving. Can't wait to see what's next, Whitney...and I love my new dress, thank you for sending it to me.

Read more about Whitney here.

*Amazon Affiliate links are used in this post and if you purchase via these links, The Forest Feast will earn a small profit.

Ricotta Dip with Asparagus Gremolata

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Inspired by an article in the latest issue of Bon Appetit by Andy Baraghani that featured beautiful, simple dips I created this one. It’s full of spring flavors, great for a gathering and really easy to make.

Ricotta Dip with Asparagus Gremolata

6 oz good-quality creamy ricotta cheese

2 green onions

3 asparagus stalks

butter, olive oil, salt & pepper

crudites, crackers or baguette (for serving)

Spread the ricotta on a small plate and drizzle with olive oil, flaky salt and pepper.

To make the gremolata topping, finely chop and sauté the 2 green onions and 3 asparagus stalks with butter, olive oil, salt and pepper on medium heat for 3 minutes or until bright green. Allow to cool (mostly) and then spoon the gremolata over the center of the ricotta. Add a bit more flaky salt over all.

Serve with crudités (like these cucumber slices or carrots), pita chips and/or slices of baguette for a springy appetizer. 

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Roasted Chickpeas

Jeanine and Jack write the beloved (mostly) vegetarian blog, Love & Lemons and their 2nd book just came out! Jeanine used to work as a graphic designer before blogging full-time, and it sure shows. The fonts and graphics in the book are so beautiful!

Their new book, Love & Lemons Every Day : More than 100 Bright, Plant-forward Recipes for Every Meal is exactly how I like to eat. There are so, so many good ideas (Moroccan Spiced Carrot Salad with Lentils! Zucchini Verde Vegan Enchiladas! Sweet Potato Wedges with Farro & Tahini!) , but I chose one of the simplest ones, Roasted Chickpeas, to make this week from the “Homemade Extras” chapter in the back of the book. This recipe has just 3 ingredients, and is easily adaptable. You can include them on the side of a cheese plate in place of nuts, or add them on top of any dish for a little extra protein. I made extra and am keeping them in the fridge to throw on salads all week.

Recipe below…congrats Jack & Jeanine!!

ROASTED CHICKPEAS

shared with permission from Love & Lemons Every Day by Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews

1.5 c cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pinches of smoked paprika or chili powder (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400˚F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the chickpeas on the baking sheet and toss with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkles of salt and pepper. Roast 20 minutes, or until crispy. Remove from the oven and toss with the smoked paprika, if using.

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Erin’s notes: I used canned chickpeas to save time and I just used paprika. They also suggest you can toss afterwards with cayenne or curry which I will try next time!

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Disclosure: I was gifted a copy of this book by the authors and their publisher. Thank you! Also–The Forest Feast uses affiliate links and may make a small profit if items are purchased via links on this site.

Fall / Jewish Holiday Dinner Party Menu

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The Jewish high holidays begin this weekend and go on throughout the month of September. People often celebrate the Jewish new year (this Sunday), Rosh Hashana, with festive fall dinners 2 nights in a row. It's traditional to have apples slices dipped in honey as an appetizer or dessert (to sweeten the new year) and to enjoy fall produce such as pomegranates and figs. And we always serve a round challah which symbolizes the cycle of the year. We have been invited to a dinner on Sunday and are hosting one on Monday. In case you are planning a menu like I am, here are a few ideas. But this menu also works well for any fall gathering!

MENU:

Pomegranate Campari & Sodas

Endive Bar Appetizer Platter

Apple Matchstick Salad

Squash Lasagna

Roasted Zaatar Carrots *or* Crispy Old Bay Brussels

Honey Cake

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COCKTAIL: Pomegranate Campari & Soda

A pomegranate Aperol Spritz could also be fun and festive. For that, mix equal parts Prosecco and Aperol over ice, add a splash of club soda and garnish with pomegranate seeds.

APPETIZER: Endive Bar

Serve a platter with yellow and/or purple endive leaves for people to fill themselves. I set out small bowls of fig jam, crumbled blue or feta cheese, ricotta or cream cheese, caramelized onions (easy to make ahead), pomegranate seeds, sautéed butternut squash cutes, sunflower seeds or pine nuts and fresh thyme or cilantro leaves.

SALAD: Apple Matchstick Salad

MAIN COURSE: Squash Lasagna

VEGETABLE SIDES: Roasted Zaatar Carrots or Crispy Old Bay Brussels Sprouts

DESSERT: Honey Cake (a Rosh Hashana tradition!)

Happy New Year (Shana tovah!)...and happy fall cooking!