Summer is HERE! Wowee zowee it’s been a beautiful July filled with plenty of sunshine, swimming, fresh fruit, and family time. It’s also a very special feeling being in Canada for the whole spring-to-summer transition once again. It’s one of my favourite things, watching this little part of the world turn green and warm, for the lakes and rivers to invite us in, for the farmers’ markets to burst with local goodness, and for the long days to stretch into equally enchanted nights.
I don’t cook a whole lot this time of year – I like to keep my food really fresh, mostly raw and pretty light.If I am turning the stove or oven on, it’s often to make staples that I can keep on hand in the fridge to amp up a salad or sandwich. Lentils, beans, and quinoa are some rotating essentials that I can add a bunch of fresh veggies to, or turn into a dip. I also love to have some coconut bacon from my second cookbook, Naturally Nourished, on hand to add awesome flavour and texture to something as basic as avocado toast.
The inspiration for this salad came when I had just made a fresh batch of this magical stuff, and I was trying to come up with some alternative uses for it (besides the best B.L.T. ever) when I remembered another classic bacon meal: the Cobb Salad! If you live outside of North America, chances are you’re not familiar with this iconic dish, a texture-rich combination of chopped romaine, avocado, tomato, chives, hard-boiled eggs, bacon, and chicken. It’s a rich and protein-heavy “salad”, often smothered in a creamy blue cheese dressing. Whoa! Major. Needless to say, I knew that this was perfect makeover fodder, and I had everything I needed to get started.
To turn this indulgent dish into something just as delicious, but actually a salad, was relatively easy. First, I decided to turn up the green and add some spinach to the mix. This small addition delivers more iron, protein, vitamin C and folate. Instead of chicken, I pointed my garden arrow at peas, to add body and filling fiber. Cooked chickpeas, butter beans or French lentils would also work beautifully in their place. Watermelon radishes just came into season here, and it was a total no-brainer to add them to this version, since they add great crunch, delicious earthiness, and pink. Because pink! And of course I kept the avocado…duh.
The Creamy Chive Dressing is such a win here. I created it in hopes of maintaining that rich and satisfying mouthfeel that blue cheese dressing lends to the classic Cobb, but without the cheese, cream, sour cream and mayo (I mean, holy cow). Instead I used hemp seeds, which are rich in Omega-3 fats, and protein to energize our summer bods. It’s tangy, a little garlic-y, and super fresh. And since my recipe makes more than enough for this salad, pour the rest over thickly sliced beefsteak tomatoes, grilled eggplant and zucchini, or fold it into cooked grains and greens.
My version of Cobb Salad is more of a concept than a recipe – so feel free to play around a bit with what you have, in the amounts that you have. And if you’ve got some other salad-y things kicking around that would work here, toss them in! No rules, just a clean-out-the-fridge kinda deal. It’s summer. Let’s keep things easy and flowin’!
To say I’m obsessed with this salad is an understatement. It’s the perfect summer meal and has everything going on with its fresh, crunchy, garden-fresh veggies and greens, creamy avocado, juicy tomatoes, rich and smoky coconut bacon, smooth and tangy chive dressing, satisfying eggs, and if you don’t want to dive face first into that bowl right now I don’t think we’ll ever be friends ; )
Summer Cobb Salad with Coconut Bacon Serves 2 as a meal, 4 as a side
1 head of romaine lettuce
a couple large handfuls of spinach
a few handfuls fresh peas, raw or lightly steamed
2 medium watermelon radish
1-2 ripe avocados, depending on how hungry you are
2-3 soft-boiled eggs, optional
a couple handfuls of Coconut Bacon (recipe follows)
a generous drizzle of Creamy Chive Dressing (recipe follows)
chives for garnish
flaky salt and pepper for garnish
1. Roughly chop the romaine and spinach, and place in a large salad bowl.
2. Thinly slice the watermelon radishes, peel and slice the avocado, cut the eggs in half, and add these ingredients to the greens. Scatter peas throughout, toss on the Coconut Bacon, drizzle with the Creamy Chive Dressing and garnish with chives, salt and pepper. Devour and rejoice.
Coconut Bacon Makes 5 cups / 200g
¼ cup / 60ml tamari
¼ cup / 60ml maple syrup
3 Tbsp. melted coconut oil
1 Tbsp. liquid smoke
1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
½ tsp. garlic powder
5 cups / 200g coconut flakes
1. Preheat oven to 325°C / 160°F.
2. Whisk all wet ingredients together in a large bowl. Add coconut flakes and toss well to coat. Let the coconut sit and marinate in the liquid for about 5 minutes.
3. Place coconut on a parchment-lined baking sheet, spreading it out evenly. Bake for 20-30 minutes, stirring every 7 minutes or so, until fragrant and crispy. The coconut will crisp up outside the oven as well, so take that into consideration. Store in an airtight container for up to three weeks.
Creamy Chive dressing Makes 1 ½ cups / 375ml
¾ cup / 100g hemp seeds
zest of 1 lemon
¼ cup / 60ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 clove garlic
2 Tbsp. cold-pressed olive oil
2 tsp. pure maple syrup
¼ tsp. fine sea salt
½ cup / 125ml water, or more as needed
3 Tbsp. finely minced chives
1. Place all ingredients except for the chives in a blender (a high-speed blender is definitely recommended) and blend on high until completely smooth and creamy. Add the minced chives and pulse once or twice just to incorporate them. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. If the dressing is too thick, add a little water and blend well again.
2. Pour dressing into a glass jar and store leftovers in the fridge for up to one week.
First of all, hello you. It’s been a while. I can hardly believe that the holidays are behind us and even the whole of January. What happened?!
Well, before I launch into the recipe, I just wanted to update you all on a couple things.
I need to start by saying that the Wild Heart High Spirit Bali Retreat was, without a doubt, one of the coolest projects I’ve ever had the pleasure to work on. Mikkala Marilyn Kissi and I welcomed and held space for 16 women to totally transform, and come out on the other side of seven days, new humans. We all landed back into our physical bodies, rediscovering the euphoria of movement and breath, the taste of real food, the feeling of laughter in our cells, sun on our skin, smiles in our hearts. I could go on forever about how deeply moved I feel about the whole thing, but I will just say thank you to everyone who came, and that we are going to do another one very, very soon. There are a few photos from the retreat at the bottom of this post – I hope you enjoy, and join us next time.
Also. Cookbook tour. It’s happening. Naturally Nourished officially lands in North America February 14th and I am close behind. I’ll be visiting New York, Toronto, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. There are more details at the bottom of this post and on my Events page, so please have a look. For all other countries, please stay tuned!
Now, it’s recipe time.
If you’re a vegetarian traveling through Indonesia, gado gado will save your life. It’s the dish that is on every single menu, a veggie-loaded, protein-rich salad drenched in the most flavourful, luscious peanut sauce that you’ve ever tasted. Combining raw and slightly steamed or blanched vegetables and bean sprouts, it is typically served with fried tofu or boiled eggs and prawn crackers, but so easily made vegan. The first time I traveled to this part of the world, I ate gado gado so often, that I almost grew tired of it. Almost.
What was my initial meal to celebrate the return to the magical island of Bali this time? Naturally, gado gado, and it did not disappoint. There is something incredibly satisfying about the dish, something that grabs a hold and makes you coming back for more – I believe it is the exquisite balancing act of flavours and textures. The veggies are light and tender (never mushy!), the sprouts are crunchy and fresh, but the true magic lies da sauce. It hits all the notes with its creamy, rich, salty, sweet, acidic, toasty and spiciness. While eating it you’re coming up with ways to justify pouring it on everything (Rice? Yes! Spring rolls? Obviously! Roasted veggies? Of course! Bean salad? Why not?!). Of all the dishes I taught during my retreat cooking classes in Bali, this is the one that the ladies really went wild for. Because sauce.
I will mention that I am taking major liberties with the traditional recipe, keeping my version vegan and soy-free, and switching out the peanuts for more health-supportive almonds. I realize that this is akin to making pasta out of vegetables (i.e. not at all pasta), but we often and readily make allowances for the promise of something healthier, so just roll with me on this one, okay? Thanks.
But Sarah, what’s wrong with peanuts? You may recall me tackling this subject before, but for those of you who are hearing just learning that peanuts and the things made with it are less-than-awesome, let’s recap! Although there are a lot worse things you could be eating, there are also plenty of healthier choices than peanuts, and here’s why.
First of all, peanuts are a bit of an odd duck plant. Not a true nut, but a bean in fact, peanuts grow underground in their thin-skinned pods, which come into direct contact with the surrounding soil. Because this soil is often moist and warm, it presents the ideal environment for fungus to proliferate. Now, it’s not the fungus that is the issue in this case, but the poison it releases, called alflatoxin, which is a cancer-causing agent that attacks the liver. What is the most shocking news, is that the highest levels of alflatoxin aren’t found in big brand peanut butters, but in the peanut butter ground fresh in health food stores.
Second of all, conventionally-grown peanuts are sprayed with very high levels of pesticides and are one of the most contaminated crops in the North America. They are also often genetically modified.
Thirdly, peanuts contain very high levels of Omega-6 fatty acids, an essential fat that we consume too much of in general. Ideally, Omega-6 and Omega-3 fats should be consumed in a 3:1 ratio (like the ratio found in hemp seeds!), otherwise inflammation erupts in the body.
If you’re a serious peanut and peanut butter lover, there are a few things you can do. For starters, find a brand of peanuts that have been grown organically in a dry environment (New Mexico for instance). Dry environments mean drier soils, which means less fungus. Make sure the nuts you are buying are very fresh and raw, since the word “roasted” cruelly translates to “deep fried”. Dry-roasted are okay since they don’t use oil in the cooking process, but these nuts are typically old.
But the best alternative of all? Other nuts! Like almonds. Almonds are high in vitamin E, a potent antioxidant that makes our skin look radiant, and helps protect again heart disease. Almonds have been proven to help lower cholesterol, the risk of weight gain and diabetes. They have about half the amount of Omega-6 fats that peanuts do, along with fewer calories. I snack on almonds and almond butter whenever I can, and have successfully replaced peanuts with this healthier option. I hope you’re inspired to do the same!
The cool thing about this dish is that you can make it any time of year with seasonal veggies and prepare them the way that suits you and the outdoor temperature, while keeping the sauce exactly the same. I like to eat veggies almost entirely raw in the summer, and include things like cucumber, green beans, radish, and lettuces. In the winter however, gado gado is truly the prefect cold-weather salad since everything can be slightly cooked and enjoyed warm. For this version, I chose two kinds of cabbage, kale, carrots, sweet potato, and freshly sprouted mung beans. An improvement I’ve made since teaching this recipe at the retreat was tossing the still-warm vegetables in virgin coconut oil – best decision. This adds a whole other layer of flavour and creaminess, plus adds even more richness, which need this time of year. Did I mention there’s also sauce?!
There are a couple ways of making my version of gado gado sauce. The best method, for sure, is roasting your own almonds and making your own fresh nut butter. The flavour will truly blow your mind if you go in this direction. But! If you are pressed for time and / or don’t feel like going through the rigmarole, you can totally use store-bought almond butter. Just make sure that it is unsweetened and made from roasted almonds, not raw. We want the full depth of flavour here – raw almond butter is too mild and will be overwhelmed by the other sauce ingredients.
Sarah B’s Balinese Gado Gado Serves 6-8
2 Tbsp. cold-pressed coconut oil
½ small head savoy cabbage, shredded
½ small head red cabbage, shredded
6-7 lacinato kale leaves, ribbed and sliced into ribbons
2 medium sweet potato
4 carrots, julienned or spiralized
2 cups packed / 180g mung bean sprouts (or any sprouts!)
2 shallots, sliced into rings
1 small bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
a few pinches flaky sea salt
limes for serving, optional
Almond Gado Gado Sauce 350g almonds = 1 cup / 250ml almond butter
1 small chili, to taste (use as much or as little as you like)
1 clove garlic
2 Tbsp. tamari
juice of ½ lime
2 Tbsp. coconut sugar
1/3 cup / 85ml full-fat coconut milk
1/3 cup / 85ml water, to thin as needed
1. Make the almond gado gado: preheat oven to 350°F / 175°C. Spread almonds out evenly on a cookie sheet and roast until fragrant and golden, about 10-15 minutes. Check often – they burn quickly! Remove from oven and let cool.
2. Place the almonds in a food processor and pulse to chop them up, then remove a good handful for garnish. Blend the remaining almonds on high, scraping down the sides every so often, until the mixture becomes smooth and liquid. Depending on your food processor, this may take up to 10 minutes – be patient, it will work!
3. Roughly chop the chili and garlic, add them to a food processor, along with the tamari, lime juice, coconut sugar and coconut milk. Blend on high and add water to achieve the correct the consistency: the sauce should be thin enough to pour, but not water-y. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Store in a glass jar with an airtight lid (keep leftovers in the fridge).
4. Wash and prepare the vegetables: cut the sweet potato into wedges, spiralize or julienne the carrots, shred the cabbage and kale. Set a steamer over boiling water and place the sweet potato inside first, cover, and set a timer for 6 minutes. If the sweet potatoes are tender at this point, remove them from the steamer and set aside and toss with a little of the coconut oil, then cover to keep warm (if they are still raw, continue to steam until tender). Next place the carrots and cabbage in the steamer and cook for 2-4 minutes until tender-crisp, then toss with remaining coconut oil. In a large bowl combine all the steamed veggies with sprouts, shallots and cilantro. Sprinkle with salt and toss.
5. To serve, spoon a generous portion of sauce onto each plate. Lay the salad on top (or arrange it neatly as I have), sprinkle with chopped, toasted almonds, more cilantro and shallots, as desired. Top with more sauce, if desired. Dig in.
Here are some shots I took during the retreat in Bali. It was beyond magical.
If you’d like to stay updated about the next one, please sign up for our newsletter and be the first to know once we announce!
And now for the book tour! I am so insanely excited to get on the road with my latest cookbook, Naturally Nourished, which you can preorder here. I’ll be in New York City and Toronto first, and tickets for the events in those cities are now available. Check the Events page, Instagram and Facebook for the remaining cities, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. See you soon!
February 20th My New Roots x The Aerie Collective: WisdomShare
“Turning Your Creativity Into a Career”
Spend an evening with Sarah for an inspiring presentation about how she has grown her food blogging passion into a thriving career.
Her book is available for purchase & signing.
My New Roots + Food52 Livestream
Tune in to Food52’s Facebook at 3pm EST, for a live broadcast of Sarah Britton demonstrating two of her favourite recipes from her new cookbook Naturally Nourished.
February 21st My New Roots + Jessica Murnane + Julia Turshen A very special night of inspiring conversation + a celebration + great women in food! Join us for the launch party of two beautiful & brilliant new cookbooks: Sarah Britton’s Naturally Nourished and Jessica Murnane’s One Part Plant With the conversation led by the highly acclaimed author & chef, Julia Turshen. Come for the bites, drinks, and book signings by all three women – stay for the good times & (selfies)!
February 22nd My New Roots + Amy Chaplin + The Finch: Plant-based Dinner Celebration
We’re thrilled to invite you to a very special dinner collaboration at Michelin-starred restaurant The Finch, celebrating two fantastic women in food. Join us for this inspired & intimate gathering.
February 24th My New Roots x The Aerie Collective: WisdomShare “Turning Your Creativity Into a Career”
Spend an evening with Sarah for an inspiring presentation about how she has grown her food blogging passion into a thriving career.
Her book is available for purchase & signing.
February 25th Naturally Nourished Book Launch at Appetito! We’re very happy to welcome you to join us for an excting interview with Sarah, Q&A, recipe tasting from the cookbook, book purchasing & signing.
February 26th My New Roots + The First Mess: Cookbook Celebration Gathering
Together with Sarah, Laura and an incredible community we would love to invite you to meet, feast & celebrate in their cookbook launch!
I guess I’ll start by saying that I feel like I am waking up from the most spectacular, flavourful, technicolour dream. Sri Lanka deeply touched me, from its incredible landscape, beautiful people and of course, the food. The food! The food.
When I was first invited by Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts to go on a food tour of Sri Lanka, I was a bit uncertain – to be honest, I didn’t know anyone who had visited Sri Lanka before, and I especially had no idea what the cuisine was like. I assumed that it was probably very much like Indian, but what I discovered is that it has its own totally distinctive flavours and cooking techniques.
Sri Lankan people are very passionate about their food and the culture around it. From my perspective, they seemed especially connected to the earth and the bounty that springs year-round from their incredibly fertile land. Many of the world’s spices are grown on the island, so you can imagine how rich and complex their traditional dishes are. Sri Lankan food is also hot. Like, crazy hot. Chilies play a dominant role in everything from curries to relish and are accompany every meal of the day – even breakfast. An interesting way to start your morning, I might add, is being startled awake by an explosive plate of food. And with coconuts quite literally dripping from the trees everywhere you look, the backbone of many Sri Lankan dishes, both savoury and sweet, is coconut water, milk and flesh. Heavenly. And a welcome antidote to all that chile.
Rice and curry is a Sri Lankan staple, and in fact the word “food” there is synonymous with this combination. Happily for me, there are countless vegetarian and vegan options to choose from. My favourites were jackfruit curry (mindblowing!), cashew curry (yes, a whole pot of cashews cooked in coconut milk), wingbean curry, mung bean curry, eggplant curry, lentil curry, and pumpkin curry. But my favourite curry of all? Beetroot curry. Surprising, eh? The first time I was offered this dish, I kind of thought that it was an accommodating east-west mashup or something, but no! It’s a thing. And a wildly delicious thing at that. I never imagined combining beets and coconut before, but it works incredibly well. The earthiness of the beets contrasts perfectly with the sweetness of the coconut milk, and the beets are neither crunchy or mushy, but a perfectly balanced succulent-tender texture that pairs so well with rice.
The other major love affair I had in Sri Lanka was with all the little side dishes that come with the curries themselves: sambol and mallung (or mallum). Sambol is like a relish, typically based on freshly shredded coconut (but not always), with a featured vegetable, along with chilies and lime. Pol sambol (coconut sambol) is ubiquitous and served at every meal I can remember. It varies in spiciness from table to table, but more often than not I couldn’t eat more than a couple teaspoons with my curry – which was already insanely hot enough, thank you.
Mallungs are “green dishes” made with cabbage, kale, broccoli, beans or other leafy veg. These are always cooked without any oil, and instead use just the heat of the pan and a little bit of water to steam the vegetable – a groovy technique in my opinion. Spices are used in mallung as well, and vary from recipe to recipe. They can be served warm or at room temperature, almost like a lightly cooked salad.
Curry leaves are an essential ingredient in Sri Lankan food. Many people are confused by this name because they associate curry with a spice blend, and assume that curry powder must then come from dried and ground curry leaves. In truth the word curry vaguely refers to a dish prepared with spices, but means very little to Indian or South Asians, where “curries” originate.
Curry powder is largely a Western creation, and should in fact be referred to as masala, meaning a spice mix. Most curries in Sri Lanka rely on whole spices, not ground or pre-mixed ones, so that the cook can balance flavours according to his / her tastes.
Anyway, back to the curry leaves. Small, dark green and glossy, they are deeply aromatic with a distinctive savoury-smoky scent that is difficult to describe. And no, they don’t smell like curry powder – we’ve already established that. They can be difficult to find fresh here in Copenhagen (and I would imagine, many places in the world!), but dried ones are available at most ethnic grocers or specialty shops. With about half the pungency of fresh curry leaves, the dried ones are an okay substitute if that’s all you’ve got, but do try and seek out some fresh ones – you’ll never look back! Plus, if you find them fresh, you can easily freeze them until your next curry.
It was very difficult to decide what kind of Sri Lankan dish I would post first (oh yea, there’s more to come…) but I chose beetroot curry and kale mallung because they are both relatively seasonal here in Denmark, and because I think that both of these recipes take us out of our comfort zone with familiar veggies, and make use of entirely unique cooking techniques. You’ll find both applications totally surprising, I guarantee that, and I hope that they inspire you to make curry out of things you wouldn’t normally, or try an oil-free, steamy stir-fry. Yum town.
There is so much complexity and diversity to Sri Lankan food and I am forever inspired. I cannot wait to go back to this enchanted island to explore, and eat, once again.
Sri Lankan Beetroot Curry with Kale Mallung Serves 3-4
1.3 lbs / 600g red beetroots
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
2 tsp. black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
20 dried curry leaves curry leaves (or 1 sprig fresh)
2-3 small green chilies, finely chopped
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp. fine sea salt, plus more for finishing
1 14 oz. / 400ml can full-fat coconut milk
juice of 1 lime
large handful of cilantro
4 portions of cooked red or brown rice (red is more traditional)
1 batch Kale Mallung (recipe to follow)
lime wedges to serve
1. Peel beets and cut them into matchsticks. Chop onions, slice garlic. Set aside.
2. In a large pot over medium-high heat, melt coconut oil. Add the mustard seeds, stir, and let cook for a couple minutes until they begin to pop (be careful that they do not burn!). Add the coriander, curry leaves, chilies, and cinnamon, stir well, and cook for one minute until fragrant. Add the onion and salt, stir to coat and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic, stir and cook one minute. Add beets and coconut milk, bring to a simmer, reduce heat and cover (make sure that the liquid is simmering very lightly, not boiling. Boiling over high heat will cause the coconut milk to split). Cook until the beets are tender, about 15-20 minutes.
3. While the curry is cooking, wash and roughly chop the cilantro.
4. To finish the curry, squeeze in the lime juice, stir, and add more salt to balance the flavours. Add cilantro and serve immediately over rice with the kale mallung and extra lime wedges.
Kale Mallung Serves 3-4
Ingredients ½ cup / 45g unsweetened desiccated coconut
½ cup / 125ml coconut water
4 cups / 130g shredded + packed kale
1 small red onion
1 tsp. ground cumin
¾ tsp. fine sea salt, plus more for garnish
1 green chilli, if desired
Juice of ½ lime, plus extra for garnish
1. Combine desiccated coconut and coconut water in a small bowl and let soak for about 30 minutes.
2. Slice onion in thin sections. Mince chili. Wash kale and spin dry. Remove any tough ribs, stack leaves and cut into thin ribbons. Set aside.
3.In a large, dry pot over medium heat, add the onions, salt and cumin. Stir often, letting the onions soften in the pan. Add a couple tablespoons of the liquid from the soaking coconut if the pot becomes too dry (reserve as much liquid as you can, however). After about 8-10 minutes, add the kale and the coconut mixture. Stir to coat, and quickly cover the pot with a lid so that the kale steams inside. Wait just 30-60 seconds – the kale is ready when it is bright green and tender. Remove from heat and squeeze in the lime juice. Season to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.