This past fall I went on an epic european adventure, four countries in three weeks, and for a good part of that trip I was traveling all by myself. Most of my alone time took place wondering around Italy .....first in Rome, and later in the southern region of Puglia. In order to get to Puglia from Rome, I made the very ambitious decision to rent a car and drive. After two pasta-filled days in Rome I picked up the rental car, plugged in my spoitify playlist, and drove myself eight long hours south in search of blue water, green olive trees, really good food, and a little peace and quite. The entire trip was spontaneously planned on the heels of a sad and stressful year, so in a way it felt like I was taking myself on a bit of an eat, pray, love, healing-type adventure .... except without the praying (unless it was to save myself from those crazy Italian drivers) and without the loving (unless we are talking about the food). Let's be honest, it was about all about the food, but isn't eating great food in a beautiful place the best medicine for the soul?
A few months before I booked this trip, I began discussing the idea of doing a workshop with a couple of my friends who are very talented photographers. We started brainstorming about combining our skills and gatheing people with similar interests who wanted to learn and be inspired in an enchanting place. Even though we had been discussing it for a few months, our idea was just a concept and did not fully come to life until I pulled into the masseria (farmhouse) where I would be staying for the next couple of nights after that long drive across Italy. The second I arrived, I knew that it was the place we were dreaming about, and the perfect place to host our workshop.
Immediately after I parked my car, I was greeted by the house mother who took a break from cooking dinner to help me unload my luggage. She asked me what time I would be ready to eat dinner, and showed me to my room. I was starving (of course) so I quickly freshened up and headed to the dining room ..... I could not wait for this meal. Four courses of southern italian home cooked bliss. Easily the best meal I had while on this trip, and such a memorable one. Even though I was eating solo, the food was so special and spectacular that no company, besides a book, was needed. Just me, my thoughts, the food, savoring every last delicious bite.
I am so excited to be revisiting this very special place in April, where I will be teaching recipe development along side my friends, Joann (slice of pie) and Gabriel (the artful desperado) who will be teaching food photography and food styling (p.s. if you're not familiar with them, their work is out of this world). The whole retreat will be hosted by another talented friend + photographer, Jen Chase, who's excitement for travel and life is contagious and really shines through with the excursions and schedules she will be leading us through. Overall, it is going to be a super special and super memorable experience ......... I so hope you can join. Below is the link with all of the information as well as the registration page. You can also email me directly with any questions you might have about the workshop:
click here ---> WORKSHOP IN ITALY
Even though savory oatmeal might not have much in common with Italian cuisine, I think that savory oats speak loudly about the types of recipes I am constantly thinking about and the type of recipes I like to come up with. Especially when it comes to twisting the sweet and savory. I have been playing around with savory oats for a while, and since I prefer to not start my day with a lot of sweet, I am always looking to expand my savory breakfast routine beyond eggs. So I treaded lightly by first adding olive oil, salt and pepper to my oatmeal. While that is still my favorite simple savory oat preparation, I have gotten a little more brave and started going full blown savory. Adding roasted veggies, pestos, harissas, savory spice blends such as za'atar ..... but this right here is such a winner that I knew I had to share it with you, if nothing else but to inspire you to throw a big hunk of pesto or a handful of veggies into your oatmeal for breakfast and be blown away by how well oats play with savory flavors.
savory oatmeal with roasted butternut squash + sage and walnut pesto
Depending on how much pesto you like in your oatmeal, and how big your squash is, you will likely end up a little extra of both which is hardly a bad thing. I store the extras in an air-tight container in the fridge and add them to salads or more oatmeal the next morning.
for the squash:
1 small butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and diced
a drizzle of olive oil
salt + pepper
for the sage + walnut pesto:
1/4 cup of sage leaves, stems removed and loosely packed
1 cup of spinach leaves
1 small clove of garlic, sliced
1/3 cup of walnuts, lightly toasted
about 1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
for the oatmeal:
1 cup of regular rolled oats (make sure they are gluten-free, if you are avoiding gluten)
3 cups of water
a pinch of salt
a drizzle of olive oil
Roast the squash:
- Pre-heat the oven to 400ºF.
- Place the diced squash onto a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Roast the squash for about 20 minutes, until soft and golden brown around the edges. Remove and set aside until you're ready to assemble the oatmeal.
While the squash is roasting, start cooking your oats + make the pesto:
- Place the oats, water, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower to a simmer. Cook while stirring frequently (to prevent sticking and clumping), until the oats are cooked and creamy, about 5-7 minutes. I sometimes add a touch more water at the end if they get too dry. Also, check the instructions for your oats, because depending on the type of oats you have the cooking time and ratios might vary.
- After you started to oats, make the pesto. Add the ingredients for the pesto (except for the olive oil) into a food processor and pulse several times to chop, and then while the food processor is running continuously, drizzle in the olive oil in a slow steam until incorporated.
Once your oats are done cooking, assemble and serve:
- Place a scoop of the oatmeal into a bowl, drizzle as much pesto as you like on top, finish with a large spoonful of the butternut squash, and serve warm, immediately.
- This recipe makes about 2 servings of oatmeal, but you will likely have extra squash and pesto. I kept those in the fridge in an air-tight container and served it the next morning, by making the oatmeal fresh once again.