I promise we’ll get to these Roasted Beets with Dill Tahini Sauce but first, I’m going to throw some thoughts out into the abyss in case it lands with anyone who needs to hear it.
From time to time, I find myself getting stuck in a rut with cooking. My thought process gets narrow and my creativity suffers. When I started this blog, my first posts were things like Sweet Potato Dip with Crispy Chickpeas and Couscous with Roasted Beets and Carrots with a Whipped White Bean Puree. Recipes that highlight vegetables in a delicious and unique way. After I started to learn more about food blogs, gaining traffic, etc. I realized that no one is going to Google to search for something they’ve never heard of. So I placed parameters on my cooking based on what people would actually search for like chili, butternut squash pasta, and spinach artichoke dip. Although I am still proud of those recipes, I lost what inspired me to share my cooking with the world in the first place – that plant-based cooking isn’t boring and that vegetables should always be celebrated.
I think this realization came slowly. It started with a conversation with my good friend, Taylor. We were talking about food photography because I had recently stepped back and realized my photos weren’t reflecting what I wanted. They felt sterile and staged. I started to look for creativity by searching and reading about food photography. I realized that I liked the clean, minimalist look but what drew me to a photo was the story. A photo that made me wonder who was on the other side enjoying that plate of food. The only metaphor I can think of is when you walk into a space that’s perfectly put together and you are too afraid to mess anything up vs. when you walk into a space that is comfortable, approachable, and makes you want to sit down and stay awhile. I want my food and photographs to do the latter. So I invited Taylor over and we let go of perfection and focused on capturing our table filled with couscous, summer shish kebabs, and orange wine. That was enough to light a spark.
Then I went on vacation and I took my camera with me just about everywhere. I spent 12 days challenging myself to take photos of just about everything, and I was so inspired by the beauty in small, everyday moments. It didn’t hurt that we also ate a lot of very good food that made that flame burn even brighter.
After 12 days of not cooking and ruminating on my feelings about cooking and photography, I was aching to get into the kitchen and behind the camera again. This time, I wanted to take all that inspiration with me and apply it. So now we finally get to the recipe – you’re a real trooper if you’ve read this far and are still interested in how to make Roasted Beets with Dill Tahini Sauce. How I start many of my grocery lists is looking at what produce is in season at the moment. So I threw a bunch of in-season produce into my cart – beets, dill, tomatoes, corn – without much of a plan. This is usually the way I get the most creative. Choose the produce and see where it takes me.
With my focus on showcasing the beets, I went a rather simple route that would highlight their sweet earthiness. The beets are roasted simply with olive oil, salt, and pepper. The greens are tossed with the same and a little hit of lemon. And the sauce incorporates those same flavors with creamy tahini. As far as photos go, I focused on serving up plates for Ryan and I and just like with the dish, I let the beets take center stage. The look of the beets alone, beg for attention and make you want to dive in. Proving yet again, that vegetables aren’t just a side dish.
I’ll leave you with one last thing. A Bob Dylan quote I have read and re-read during this time: “And it dawned on me that I might have to change my inner thought patterns… that I would have to start believing in possibilities that I wouldn’t have allowed before, that I had been closing my creativity down to a very narrow, controllable scale… that things had become too familiar and I might have to disorientate myself.”Print