Charred Green Bean and Lentil Salad + Giveaway

Charred Green Beans // Charred Green Beans // Charred Green Beans //

We had two children in diapers when we started dating at home. All three of them were in bed by 7:00 pm and generally we could count on a quiet house around 7:30. We weren’t getting a lot of sleep at night, they surrounded us morning, noon, and night, and they needed us constantly. In that season it seemed as if our only way to stay connected regularly was to make our home a setting for us to date.

So we shoved the crayons off the table, tucked the dirty laundry under the couch, and maybe lit a candle or two before sitting down to dinner; just the two of us. These evenings turned into a cookbook, as many of you know, and more importantly they sustained our marriage in a time where we had to fight with intention and battle through the exhaustion.

Now our three are in school. They are much more independent, waking up to pour their own bowls of cereal or toasting their own bread. They can handle putting on their pants, packing up their bags, and while we do still step on small toys on an almost daily basis we don’t have to be afraid that any of them will put them in their mouths. They’re in bed by 8:00 but the house is still buzzing with little chatter until 9:00. They have so much to catch up on after being away from one another all day.

Let me just pause for a moment and assure those of you who are reading this with a baby on your lap or a toddler pawing for your attention, that someday those little ones will grow older. They won’t demand as much of you as they do now and they will grow into amazing little people and you get to watch it all. It’s as wonderful, hard, and fulfilling as you hope it will be.

Gabe and I have had a clunky return to dating at home this year. We would set aside the time but without having a book to write and honestly, I had needed a bit of space from it all, it just seemed too hard. But the necessary things in life are often the hardest and our failure to date has, at many times, left us feeling very distant and disconnected. It shows up in small ways like when I take a comment he makes and meet it with defense because I’m feeling guilty for not making more intention to connect. Or when I say something I shouldn’t in a tone that nobody wants to hear because I’m feeling vulnerable. We have felt the effectiveness of our weekly dates and can now quickly recognize the difference in our friendship when we connect regularly and when we don’t.

Charred Green Beans // Charred Green Beans //

It wasn’t until we released what those date nights used to be and started to see that now, in a new season, they can be something else completely. The point isn’t the multi-course meal eaten while three kids sleep in the comfort of our home. The point is connection and we must actively pursue that in any and every season for our relationship to continue to thrive. What once worked so well for us may look different now that so many other things in our life look different. Once we embraced that thinking about dating, it felt new, exciting, and possible again.

We still sometimes sit down to our table once the house is quiet, with a glass of wine in hand and a meal that suits our tastes. Sometimes it’s a simple picnic on the beach that is now just a short walk from our new home. Or sometimes it’s going out to breakfast after our three kids are off to school. The point is still the same it just may look a bit different now. No matter the season the point is to continue to pursue one another in friendship. As long as that is the constant we can weather any season.

This particular date we packed a simple picnic and walked down the beach. Most of the items in our basket I picked up from the store like cheese, crackers, pickled things, (my most favorite picnic item) fruit, and wine. I did manage to make us a simple salad. One that has been on repeat since. It’s a mix of all things green: charred green beans cooked until sweet, peppery arugula, green lentils boiled with a bit of bite still remaining, and pistachios. And then, though not green, lots and lots of seeds – toasted until deeper in color and fragrant. The type of seeds depends only on the contents of my pantry but I have found that fennel, cumin and sesame all play a vital role. If pistachios aren’t readily available, pumpkin seeds do nicely as well. We top our salad with large flakes of smoked trout, but I’ll leave that up to you as well.  

As I mention in the video below, the picnic really isn’t about the food. Of course that’s what often inspires the trip or gets me giddy about it all in the first place but once we’ve set up the blanket, unloaded the basket, and cleaned our plates, that’s when the purpose of our time reveals itself. Food and a bit of wine become the icebreaker and ease us into the point of it all – connection. It’s why I love food so much; it gives us a purpose for gathering around the table, or in this case, the beach. What happens while the food and wine are being enjoyed is what matters most.


Charred Green Beans // Charred Green Beans //

This post was kindly sponsored by Mirassou Winery and they are thrilled to be giving away the picnic basket and blanket you see in the images (not exactly the ones I use, yours will be brand new, I assure you) as well as a few of my favorite picnic items (most made right here in Seattle) including smoked olive oil, Boat Street Pickled Raisins, Ayako & Family Plum Jam, and Salted Chocolate Chip cookie mix from yours truly.

To enter, simply leave a comment below and I will randomly select a winner on October 16th. (Must be 21 years of age or older to be eligible to win. Residents of Utah are not eligible to participate. Link to official rules at LINK HERE.)  

Charred Green Bean and Lentil Salad

Serves 2 (with some to spare)


1 cup French green lentils (if you can find them, if not another type will do)

4 ounces (about 3 cups) green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 tablespoons finely minced shallot

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon honey

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

3 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

2 cups arugula

2 tablespoons toasted seeds (sesame, fennel, mustard, poppy, cumin, etc.)

2 tablespoons roughly chopped and toasted pistachios

1 whole smoked trout

Recommended pairing: Mirassou Sauvignon Blanc


Cook the lentils in salted water until just tender. Drain them then run under cold water to halt the cooking. Set the lentils aside.


In a large skillet set over high heat add a couple glugs of olive oil then toss in the green beans. Sprinkle in a hefty pinch of salt then let the beans get a nice char on one side before giving them a stir. Continue to saute in this way until the beans are tender and charred on most sides, about 5 to 7 minutes. Let the beans sit for a moment while you make the vinaigrette.


In a large bowl whisk together the shallot, dijon, honey, vinegar, and olive oil. Season with a bit of salt and pepper to taste. It should taste bright and briny as it will taste more mellow once all the ingredients have been added.


To the bowl add the green beans and lentils. Toss to combine.


Finally add in the toasted seeds in whatever variety you have but I really love a sesame, poppy, fennel, mustard and cumin mixture. Nigella seeds are really lovely too if you happen to have them.


Also add the pistachios and finish with a bit of flake salt.


If you are packing this for a picnic line the bottom of your container with arugula then top with the lentils. If a picnic is not in the plans then simply toss the arugula in with the lentils and finish with big flakes of smoked trout. Serve immediately.


At the picnic you can fillet the trout and top the salad there.


Serve with Mirassou Sauvignon Blanc.

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Dutch Apple Pie with Muscovado Toffee Sauce

Dutch Apple Pie, Muscovado Toffee Sauce //

“It’s all so new.” She told me as she sat at her desk. For months she’s been proudly proclaiming, to anyone who would listen, that she’s a Kindergartner. With every box of crayons, new backpack, school clothes and hair bows, she would get more and more excited for the first day. And then it came.

I was so surprised that suddenly the bounding and enthusiastic little girl who had been waiting for this day like Christmas morning suddenly was looking at me with a blank face and an overwhelmed fear in her eyes. I kissed her then had to walk away before she saw my tears.

My tears? Where did those come from? I too had been anticipating this day for well, years actually. In the dark moment of the days with a toddler flailing, a 4 year-old finding his voice and place in the world and a baby with a full diaper and tears to tell you about it, I told myself that someday they would go to school. Those were the moments when I had cursed all those older ladies who would tell me to enjoy every moment of those younger years. Really I just wished for those ladies to come over and give me a quiet moment. Now, that I would have enjoyed.

I loved those sausage thighs, the smell of baby, the nursing noises, the words that aren’t really words but make you laugh at the adorable effort but I’m not one to lament the passing of a season with longing and regret, rather I want to meet the next one with eagerness and excitement ready for where it plans to take us.

So I thought there wouldn’t be tears because I was ready. But then my baby looked up at me, seeking comfort in a scene that was overwhelmingly unfamiliar. After I wiped my eyes I went back to my little girl and held her face. “You are strong. You are brave. You are going to do great and I’m so proud of you.” And then I walked away and thought about her and prayed for her all day.

Rolling the dough Instant family classic


Throughout the day I started to walk down that ugly path of guilt. What could I have done differently to comfort her? How could I have prepared her more for all the newness? I should have talked to her more about what to expect. I should have reminded her that it’s okay if the she colors outside of the lion’s mane on her coloring sheet and that we’ve all written our b’s as d’s and d’s as b’s. But I stopped myself just before that guilt trip got too dark and the path disappeared into a dark woods with an exit nearly impossible to find.

She’s going to have that “it’s all so new” feeling many times in her life and that’s good. That feeling and then working through it to make the new not-so-new makes us stronger, braver, more confident and better people. I don’t want to swoop her to safety just when things are starting to get scary. I want to stand on the sidelines cheering her on reminding her that she can do this! That I’m close by but really she is the one that can make the new, normal. And then be brave enough to seek out more new.

Sometimes the best thing I can do for her is to tell her I love her, assure her of her confidence and bravery and let her work out the newness on her own. But you can be sure that the moment that little girl got home there was comfort. There was a warm pot of tea and something sweet because after a long day of battling the fear of the new we all need a bit of comfort and sometimes that comes in the form of pie piled high with apples and a deep heady toffee sauce that forces us to lick our plates clean.

Dutch Apple Pie, Muscovado Toffee Sauce //

Dutch Apple Pie with Muscovado Toffee Sauce


Serves 8


Pie Dough

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon flake salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1 stick, cold butter, cut in cubes

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

3 1/2 tablespoons ice water


Apple Filling

7 Gravenstein (or other favorite baking variety) apples peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1 vanilla bean, seeds removed


Crumble topping

1 1/4 cup flour

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon flake salt

1 stick butter, softened


For the pie dough:

Combine 1 1/4 cups flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter then pulse until the butter is roughly the size of peas. Add cider vinegar and ice water while pulsing.

The dough will look crumbly but is ready when it holds together when you squeeze it.

Form the dough into a disc then wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm.


Apple Filling:

While the dough chills prepare the apples.

Add the apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice, dark brown sugar, and the seeds from a vanilla bean to a large bowl. Toss it all together well then set aside.


Crumble Topping:

Add the flour, dark brown sugar, and flake salt to a bowl. Work in the butter until clumps form.


To assemble the pie:

Preheat your oven to 375°F

Roll out the pie dough and line a pie dish with the dough. Crimp the edge using your fingers.

Add the apples to the dish and pile them up high. They will shrink down quite a bit while baking.

Add the crumble topping, squeezing it together so you get some good size clumps. Some of it will be loose and more powdery, that’s fine too.

Bake with a pafchment lined sheet pan on the shelf before to catch any drips.

Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until deeply golden and the juices that are bubbling look thickened.

Let cool completely before serving.


Muscovado Toffee Sauce


1/2 cup muscovado

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons corn syrup

1 stick butter

1 cup cream


Add the muscovado, dark brown sugar, corn syrup, and butter to a sauce pan.

Bring to a boil and give a gentle stir to combine all the ingredients. Boil for a few minutes until the sugar is melted and the butter had melded with the sugar.

Carefully add the cream and boil 2 to 3 minutes longer.

Add a pinch of flake salt and let cool until ready to serve.

The toffee sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Rewarm before serving.



*Looking for a savory snack to balance out all this sweet? I’ve teamed up with Bravo and TopChef Home Edition to create a popcorn that will blow your mind. It’s covered in a savory tomato butter then topped with basil salt and finely grated Parmesan. Get the recipe here and for more TopChef Challenges check out this page.

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