feast magazine article, sides

roasted beets + fennel with tahini-dill dressing.

beet and fennel in tahini-dill dressing. | a periodic tableEver had a recipe you just couldn’t shake? Me too…this one. I wrote a feature for Feast which celebrates our beautiful and bountiful creameries around the midwest, and this was one of the recipes I developed for it (because hey, that’s my job.)

Often when I step back from a feature, long after it’s wrapped and published, I see my mindset during recipe development. Spring features are always challenging to work on; you find yourself working in a completely different season which looks nothing like the one you’re aiming at. I can’t think of a more stark contrast between months than that of March (the publish date) and January, especially when you’re talking about seasonal ingredients.

What I see in this recipe is the transition to brighter days; a look forward into what’s coming, if you will. I see my favorite bursts of light in winter – beets, fennel, lemons – paired with the grassiness of fresh dill and the first farm-fresh cream of the season. It all gets rounded out with tahini and garlic, two of my favorite things any time of year, really, and the result is what you see above: winter meets spring, sunny warmth breaks through damp cold. I’ve never appreciated spring as much as when I can see it coming through food.

Spring recipes don’t always have to be made in the spring. I passed by some beautiful beets and fennel the other day at the market and thought about what a fresh, unexpected addition this dish would make to a harvest or Thanksgiving table. It’s bold, bright, and gorgeous to look at: that photo above was taken by my partner in crime, Jennifer Silverberg, and she definitely captured its golden glow perfectly, but she could find the glow in anything.

Guys, I’ve been having thoughts lately: about how good it feels to write for myself, but also about how the whole concept of blogging has changed dramatically from when I first started. And you know what? I’m not thrilled about it. It’s exhausting re-entering a world that seems to think that the quality of someone’s work or the importance of their voice can be extrapolated by a calculation of followers + likes + social media platforms used. But here I am, because I believe that there’s a bunch of writers and recipe developers out there like me who love creating, and talking with people (online, let’s not go crazy, I’m an introvert IRL), and who don’t give a 💩 about what snapchat filter best represents their day. So I’m going to make some food, and write some things, and keep semi-hating social media and idea that if I’m not a cookbook author, I’m nothing. Let’s hang out, because this here is what I like doing the most.

Making recipes is awesome: you making my recipes is the best. So if you’d like to throw this little beauty together, boom: recipe below: the dressing alone is worth the make, because you can throw it on all sorts of things. It’s also over on Feast’s site, where you can see my entire dairy feature, including all recipes. 

Roasted Beets and Fennel with Creamy Tahini-Lemon-Dill Dressing

Serves | 8 to 10 |

Roasted Beets and Fennel

  • 2½ lbs red, golden, or Chioggia beets, or a mix (4 to 6, depending on size)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 lbs fennel bulb (2 to 3, depending on size)

Creamy Tahini-Lemon-Dill Dressing

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp tahini
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1½ tsp lemon zest
  • 3 Tbsp fresh dill fronds, finely chopped
  • juice of 3 to 4 lemons
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • small bunch fresh dill fronds (or fennel fronds from fennel bulbs), for garnish

| Preparation – Roasted Beets and Fennel | Preheat oven to 425°F. Tear aluminum foil in lengths large enough to wrap each beet; set a beet in the middle of each square, and drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Season generously with salt and pepper; wrap tightly to avoid leaks. Place directly on oven rack to one side, leaving enough room for a sheet pan; roast until tender, 1 hour.

 Slice each fennel bulb from top to bottom into ½-inch thick wedges and toss in large bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil; season with salt and pepper and spread onto lipped baking sheet. Place in middle rack of oven, off to one side; place wrapped beets directly on oven rack next to pan. Roast fennel for 30 to 40 minutes until fennel is deep golden on one side, placing in oven so both fennel and beets are done roasting at the same time.

| Preparation – Creamy Tahini-Lemon-Dill Dressing | In a medium bowl, whisk together sour cream, tahini, garlic, lemon zest and dill fronds until incorporated. Add lemon juice to thin dressing until desired consistency is reached; season to taste with salt and pepper.

| To Serve | Lay fennel wedges out on a serving platter; unwrap beets, slice into wedges and lay around fennel. Garnish with dill or fennel fronds if desired, and serve warm with small bowls of dressing alongside on serving platter.

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  • Reply John/Kitchen Riffs October 17, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    Beets and fennel are awesome together. Or by themselves. Or probably in combo with loads of other ingredients. Point is, love ’em! And always happy to see them appear in a recipe. Good stuff. And hobby blogging is the BEST. 🙂

    • Reply shannon January 11, 2018 at 1:10 pm

      Agree! beets and fennel are a nice foil for one another, and it’s so easy to bring them together with a few other things in the mix. Hobby blogging IS the best, on so many levels. it creates better writing, obviously, but it also feels so much more creative and free than bloggers who do it for the money (or the swag). just kinda hating all that right now.

  • Reply Jen October 17, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    Don’t stop blogging and I won’t stop reading. Because I cling to your honest love of cooking, creating, and sharing. It makes my heart happy every time I see you in my inbox. <3

    • Reply shannon January 11, 2018 at 1:06 pm

      i will not stop: you’d think i would have thrown in the towel by now if i was going to do it. 🙂 i love you, lady.

  • Reply movita beaucoup October 18, 2017 at 6:31 am

    Prediction: food blogging (as it is right now) will collapse within two years. Blogs like yours will survive because you’ve got skillz and haven’t jumped on any bandwagons. Also, you don’t get bored easily. That makes you a blogging cockroach. (I classify myself in the same way.) Post-collapse you will eat roasted beets and continue to enjoy all that blogging is supposed to be: reading, writing, and hanging out with friends you don’t have to get dressed for!

    • Reply shannon January 11, 2018 at 1:03 pm

      i’m a blogging cockroach: it’s like you know exactly how to give compliments that i FEEL.

      clearly i’ve been sitting on how i feel about blogging since i wrote this back in October (i really have my act together)…we’ll discuss. at length. soon.

  • Reply elizabeth October 18, 2017 at 7:59 am

    You know exactly how I feel about all of this, and I really hope movita is correct in her prediction because food blogging as it is now cannot go on forever, can it?

    • Reply shannon January 11, 2018 at 1:05 pm

      you would think the blogging bubble that we’re in now would burst…it’s completely unsustainable, or at least as far as I can tell. we’ll discuss at length (most likely on and off the blog) here once i get rolling. i have thoughts i’ve been sitting on for what seems like ages, and it’s going to be awesome to hear how everyone’s feeling.

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