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Our pastor was talking about his child with Down's Syndrome. He showed videos of him laughing and dancing even when there was no music playing, and in short, relayed what an unexpected source of joy he has been to their family. A child whose condition is thought to be a burden, has enabled every person in their family to take note of the little things. The difference he noted in his sweet three year old boy, is that he feels entitled to nothing and therefore can find joy in anything. My eyes teared, an easy feat actually, but anyone would have, with humility tugging on you throughout his story.

We hear the word "joy" this time of year and we can look right through it. It's a season of sparkly gifts and things, but I want to stay focused on what actually fills me up. It makes me so happy when I come home late from work and Hugh has remembered to plug in the lights around our front door. We don't have a timer and our eyesore of an extension chord is huge and bulky, but the sentiment that my sweet husband plugs them in just for me, fills me with joy. It's in the small things, the unexpected things. And while there will be dissappointment, sorrow and loss, there is also joy when you look for it.

I'm sure you've caught on by now that I am not much for give-aways or product review, but when I was invited to try a few things from Gilt Taste, I made an exception to my self imposed rule. This website has some pretty fabulous artisan food products and is backed by a number of respectable names in the food world. They sent me a CSA-style box filled with some of the most gorgeous vegetables I'd seen in quite a while. So the following is what I came up with from a few of the contents in the box, assisted by a few staples in my pantry and fridge. While there's plenty of flavor on this plate, as is, I could see this as wonderful base for a vegetarian entree, maybe with a tender whole grain added in, or a basic protein of your choice.

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As per any recipe I write, you need to trust your gut. The vegetable roasting timing may vary, and the sauce, because it is textured, is forgiving, so alter the flavors as you wish.

1 lb. Assorted Small Carrots
1 lb. Assorted Small Beets
2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar, divided
1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
1/2 tsp. Black Pepper

1 Bunch Fresh Spinach Leaves
1 Large Clove Garlic, minced
2 tsp. Unsalted Butter
1/2 Cup Light Whipping Cream or Whole Milk
1/3 Cup Finely Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 tsp. Prepared Horseradish, optional
Squeeze of Fresh Meyer Lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper to taste

Microgreens for Garnish

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Scrub the beets and carrots clean. Peel the beets with a vegetable peeler, doesn't have to be perfect. Lay them out to dry on a dishcloth (use a dark one, the beets bleed).
Preheat the oven to 425'. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Toss the dry roots in the olive oil, salt and pepper to coat. Sprinkle half the balsamic and toss again. Roast the vegetables on the middle rack anywhere from 30-45 minutes depending on size. You want to be able to pierce a butter knife through the largest vegetable on the tray.
While the vegetables are cooking, make your spinach sauce. Steam the spinach for just a minute or two to cook down. Remove to cool. Squeeze out any remaining water and chop well. You should have about a cup worth.
In a medium saute pan over medium low heat, add a drizzle of olive oil and the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add the butter to melt, stir it around. Add the chopped spinach and cream and stir to coat. Cook until the spinach absorbs most of the cream. Stir in the parmesan, few pinches of salt and pepper, horseradish if using and stir. Using a mini blender or immersion blender, give the spinach a few pulses to break it down. You don't want quite a puree, more of a texture sauce, some chunks are fine. Add it back to the pan and thin with milk/cream if you wish. Squeeze in a bit of fresh lemon juice to taste. Turn off the heat and cover to keep warm. When the vegetables are ready, remove to cool slightly and drizzle on the remaining balsamic. Plate each portion with a schmear of the spinach sauce, the roasted vegetables and microgreens for garnish. Round out the meal however you wish.

* The assorted carrots, beets, spinach, garlic and microgreens were sent to me by Gilt Taste while the text and recipe are my own.

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Reader Comments (50)

So beautiful. The story, the recipe, and the photos. What an incredible thought that if we remove our sense of entitlement joy follows. Thanks for this.

December 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

Spinach sauce! Great idea! Looks delish!

December 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

Beautiful story. Roast veg are probably my favourite two good things in one...

December 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEdward Pillar

I could tuck into that right now, looks so delicious and beautiful as always. Thanks for the reminder about finding joy this holiday season and every day.

December 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

Thank you for this reminder. My husband does the same thing with our Christmas lights. I'll make sure to give him a kiss and a thank you when I get home tonight.

December 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAllison

Sounds fantastic! Here's to joy in underground edibles, unearthed.

December 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

AHHHH!!! I LOVE ROASTED VEGES! Not to mention that balsamic vinegar is my ultimate, and plus beets! Unreal. So simple, so easy and even non-vegetarians will love this. I am going to try making it vegan and using kale instead of spinach...
Beet Love!

December 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLauren


December 13, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermary

What a nourishing and grounding dish for this crazy time of year -- I love your photos -- I'd hang these on my wall and be reminded of the sweetness that roasting veggies brings. Lovely. And yes -- finding joy is important, throughout the year. Thank you for this reminder!

December 13, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterlauren@spicedplate

All the food you make looks soooo good. I wish I could try some but I'm currently calorie counting.

You should add the calorie total of each meal....maybe?
i love you either way.

December 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSara

I love to make roasted vegetables but I've never used balsamic to roast them. I'll have to try it this week.

December 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

this sounds fantstic. great for the cold season!

December 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJoy

What a beautiful story and outlook. My fiancé's little cousin has Down's, and she is always so happy as well. I know it's been tough on their family (she has a few other complications as well) but she brings such great joy to the family as well.

I'm dying to try this recipe! It looks fantastic per usual.

December 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnni

@Sara - I'm glad you'll still love me, because I likely won't be doing that. I think putting all the numbers in there distracts from the overall whole foods concept I try to focus on. Things like nuts, avocado, olive oil (ingredients I use often) are going to push the fat and calories high, but not in a bad way, and I think that sends the wrong message. I know there are some great online resources and iphone apps that will give you the calories when you type in the recipe. Good luck!

December 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSara

Gorgeous produce shots :) That spinach sauce sounds delicious too. Especially with the addition of horseradish.

December 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrandon @ Kitchen Konfidence

I love EVERYTHING about this post. Your photos are exquisite. I'm hungry!

December 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKitchen Vignettes

I adore the idea of using vegetables as the sauce too! What a great one, Sara! :)

December 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDessertForTwo

Lovely message, Sara. Thank you. I've moved from an obsession to oven-baked sweet potato fries to an obsession with roasting all sorts of fall vegetables. I've been going super simple with olive oil, salt and pepper, but I'll try tossing them in balsamic oil next!

December 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCookie and Kate

Inspired and beautiful. Love the horseradish. As a side note, Gilt food boxes are such an interesting concept to me; great for people who might not have access to CSA in their area. I guess I'm spoiled with an abundance of local CSA programs here and understand how beneficial it is for our community. Lots to work on, politically, in terms of access!

December 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKelsey

What a lovely post...beautiful thoughts, photography and recipes, thank you and Merry Christmas!

December 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterShelby

Absolutely LOVE this! The shots are beautiful, sure it tastes even sweeeter! Thanks for sharing - it brought me joy :D

good roast veg is one of my favourite things to eat - and these ones look about as good as they get. It makes such a difference to be able to get hold of a good variety of different colours of carrots and beets.

I also really like the idea of the spinach sauce

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAdam Levy

Stunning and vigorous. I love the pairings, the colors. I can actually feel what this will taste like. Thanks for sharing!

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJay @

Beautiful story and recipe. Really love the veg shots in particular. And the sauce has me intrigued.

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMikeVFMK

such a bueatiful story and it's so true about the small things meaning so much. Delicious and gorgeous salad I can't wait to try it, I love love love roasted beets!

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjas

Totally yummy! The Balsamic Roasted Roots with Spinach Sauce is so tasty with great texture, flavor and it looks soooo good. This is a keeper!!! Keep up the good creative work and your writing.

December 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBob and Jane

Roasted root veggies are the best in winter - and with balsamic! does it get any better?

December 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

[...] inspiration came from Sprouted Kitchen’s recent post on Balsamic Roasted Root Vegetables and, while I adore balsamic vinegar, I never use it enough, and the thought of it paired with [...]

There is so much "loss" out there. In relationships, in bodies. in societies. It can be overwhelming. And it's an odd truth that when the hard stuff comes, it's possible to find great joy. It makes me rethink what, I think, is our natural instinct: that what will bring us happiness is more of "the good life". It seems upside-down, to think that might be wrong, doesn't it?

The veggies are beautiful, too! They are seemingly little things that are actually more like miracles. Thanks for the post.

December 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMonica

I love balsamic roasted veggies. And the sauce makes this side into a meal - a pretty sophisticated meal, actually. And I bet that sauce is yummy on lots of things!

December 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKatie@Cozydelicious

A beautiful story, Sara. And you're right, the holidays are about much more than sparkly gifts. I love the flavor roasting brings out of vegetables and this sauce sounds amazing. Spinach! Horseradish! Parmesan! Yes, please!

December 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteradrienne

Wonderful story and photos. I love spinach and definitively I will try this recipe.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGabriela {What Liberty Ate}

The pictures are so beautiful I just want to take a bite out if my computer screen. I look forward to balsamic roasting some roots soon!

December 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAdrianne

thank you, sara, for sharing this story. it brought me joy, the sort that lingers.

also, i think that's the sexiest picture of roots i've ever seen! and i love me my roots. exquisite (as always).

a wonderful, glorious christmas to you both.


December 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermolly

I look at those roast carrots and beets and honestly, I could eat nothing but amazing veg for the rest of my life. I can't even describe how gorgeous they look.

December 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMallory

What a great seasonal dish. Thanks for spreading joy...happy holidays!

December 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterthe tasty tRuth


December 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterthe tasty tRuth

This is such a beautiful post and a great recipe......thanks!

December 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCulinary Collage

I love simply roasted vegetables so much, but it's always nice to have small ways to change them up a little. I can't wait to try out this spinach sauce next time I roast some up!

December 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Such a beautiful post! I can almost taste this delicious dish through all the gorgeous colors. Your photography is such an inspiration.

December 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRussell at Chasing Delicious

this one is for hugh. the photos on this blog are unbelievable. even better than your portrait work. i havent seen anyone shoot food the way you do, abstract and sensual. there are so many frames on this blog that i would love to have a print of and watch everyday . lucky sara .

December 29, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterhili

It is the unexpected things! So happy for those.. thanks for this.

December 29, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteralana

y.u.m. this was delicious! i left out the horseradish and only had 1% milk, and this was still a stellar part of our new year's eve dinner. thanks for all the inspiration!

January 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkatieanne

[...] Balsamic Roasted Roots with Spinach Sauce from Sprouted Kitchen: I could easily include every recipe from Sprouted Kitchen in my roundup, but this recipe seemed particularly appropriate for the season. Plus, the photos are gorgeous. [...]

January 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHello there, 2012: It’s

[...] really? How delicious do these root vegetables look? I think I will try out this recipe over the [...]

January 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThis week on Pinterest

Your photos are absolutely haunting. How do you do that?

January 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSally

I made this last night and it was delicious, I subbed the spinach for Kale, tasted like pesto! Yum

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered

It was great, I used Kale instead of Spinach!

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered

I made this yesterday and it was just the way you described it. I had a great time eating too.

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEdlyn

This looks delicious! Any tips on how to make the sauce vegan?

October 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterkDR

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