I Tried Recipes from 'Dishing Up the Dirt' and This is What I Loved

The cookbook Dishing Up the Dirt: Simple Recipes for Cooking Through the Seasons proves that author Andrea Bemis is a master at the three essential cooking S's: simple, seasonal, and scrumptious. Farmer by day and blogger by night, Bemis pulls out all the stops in her cookbook to introduce down-to-earth seasonal eating in a way that makes every reader crave fresh veggies plucked right out of the earth. In an effort to eat more sustainably, after being a fan of her blog, I picked up a copy of Dishing Up the Dirt to gain some inspiration for seasonal eating.

As I flip through the pages, I can practically taste the farm. Categorizing chapters by season, recipes centered around fresh seasonal produce along with a farm to table photography approach capture my tastebuds. This should come as no surprise as Bemis and her husband run Tumbleweed Farms in Hood, Oregon. The cookbook introduces each new chapter with a bit from Bemis on life on the farm. Gaining a sense of appreciation not only for their hard work, but for the hard work of farmers everywhere, the cookbook makes you feel as though you are right there on the farm, working alongside them through all the struggles and rewards.

Reaping the benefits of an organic vegetable farm, recipes like Beet Butter, Roasted Acorn Squash with Tahini and Hazelnuts, and Kohlrabi Leek Soup find their way into the cookbook. Hungry for a taste, I decide on a recipe to give a whirl. First up, Smoked Salmon Arugula with Crunchy Lentils.

Smoked Salmon Arugula with Crunchy Lentils

Carissa Stanz

As a lover of peppery arugula and smoked salmon, I knew this was already going to be a winner. What took me by surprise was the crunchy lentils. I've had plenty of salads with lentils, but Bemis takes the extra step in this recipe by tossing lentils in cayenne and garlic powder, and then roasting until crisp.

As the very photo accompanying the recipe was making my stomach growl, I was tempted to skip this step. I'm sure glad though that I didn't. Offering up a unique crunchy texture with a subtle burst of flavor, this simple salad is packed with a citrusy, earthiness that brings out the flavors of each ingredient.

Beet, Walnut & Kale Pizza

Carissa Stanz

Hungry for more fresh recipes, I tried the Beet, Walnut & Kale Pizza (Beetza!). I am a huge fan of beets. I know not everyone shares this love, but when you put it on a pizza, I think you'll agree it's a winner.

Subbing the tomato sauce for a creamy, beet spread, I loaded it on my dough, along with chunks of fresh goat cheese and spicy cooked kale. Due to a nut allergy for one of the recipe taste testers, I omitted the walnuts. While the walnuts would add a nice earthy crunch, the pizza was a hit.

Pan-Fried Butter Beans & Greens

Carissa Stanz

What surprised me the most of all the recipes I tried was the Pan-Fried Butter Beans & Greens. Everyone who knows me knows I am super picky about beans. It was one of those foods I hated as a child, and have trained my tastebuds to like as an adult - at least some varieties. I figured if Bemis' recipe could persuade me to tolerate beans, then she really was a master at making simple taste good. The verdict? This is not only my favorite recipe out of the book, but now I actually crave beans. Seriously, it's that good.

So how does she do it? Keeping in line with the simple recipes anyone can make approach, crushed red pepper is sautéed with butter beans until brown. Next, leafy green kale is added to the pan. After it begins to wilt, the whole dish is topped with a twist of lemon juice and a mound of fresh Parmesan cheese. That's it. Simple, seasonal, and insanely scrumptious, if you are going to try any of the recipes in her cookbook, I highly recommend this one.

As the seasons change, Dishing Up the Dirt beckons me to change up my plate. Offering a wide variety of recipes that range from canning in order to preserve veggies for when they are no longer in season, to a whole section on sauces, I know I won't get bored experimenting with what's in season. Whether your a new chef or a master in the kitchen, Dishing Up the Dirt is the cookbook that should be in every kitchen.

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