It’s finally really fall here! My food cravings get richer and earthier again and of course all kinds of pumpkin and squash make it to my plate. And because it doesn’t always have to be soup or stew, let’s celebrate fall with a Healthy Fall Salad with Creamy Tahini Dressing.
Let’s talk recipe development for a bit.
Some bloggers out there are recipe creating machines! I honestly don’t know how they do that! I am always stumped by how people can come up with more than one recipe post a week. Creativity would be my first issue. The second one would actually be time. As you might know I am working full-time and now have a 1 hour commute one way. Additionally I have a dissertation to finish, a husband who sometimes wants my attention, an apartment to take care of and also kind of a social life. If it wasn’t for home office days I think I wouldn’t be able to keep everything up.
As I arranged this Healthy Fall Salad with Creamy Tahini Dressing for its shoot I thought about how many steps and how much time it took to get this recipe online. So I decided it would be fun to mix things up a little and take you on the ride from the idea to the published recipe post.
From the Idea to a Healthy Fall Salad with Creamy Tahini Dressing
Coming up with a recipe Idea
Monday 19th September, 1.30 – As always around this time of the day, I procrastinate like a goddess. I just finished lunch but it was too small and I am still hungry. I start to fantasize about dinner and open pinterest. The search for ‘fall recipe’ brings up an abundance of stew and soup pictures. I am not in the mood for that so I close pinterest again. I want a salad! That makes me wonder if everything is alright with me.
Monday 19th September, 6.30 pm – I am finally out of the office. I decide it’s too late for recipe development for the day and settle for Avocado Toast instead. This food phase is still going strong! On my commute back home I think about possible ingredients for the yet undefined fall salad I crave. I decide that cheese MUST be involved!
Thursday 21th September, 6 pm – I am at the supermarket and look for the ingredients for my fall salad. I want butternut squash and figs to make it taste like fall. As an opponent to the sweetness from the squash and figs I settle for rocket for a slightly bitter taste. I still have goats cheese at home which I will use. I want to get quinoa to make the salad a bit more filling but I get side tracked by the freshly baked bread stall and forget about the quinoa immediately.
Friday 22th September, 4 pm – Home office Friday! I usually start work really early on home office days so I take some time in the afternoon to test and shoot recipes. I realize that I forgot to buy quinoa but find half a pack of red quinoa in my pantry. Good luck I am a hoarder. Red quinoa sounds even better than the regular one.
I also add a few overripe peaches that have to go and dress it all with a soy-mustard dressing. Before it’s too dark I quickly take a few pictures to see how the fall salad would photograph. I like to do that so that I can get a feeling about what kind of setting/ backdrops and props will work for the recipe.
Friday 22th September, 7 pm – Stefan and I sit down for dinner. The salad is okay but neither of us is overly impressed by it. Stefan criticizes that it is too sweet for a savory recipe and I find the goat cheese overpowering compared to the other flavors. We both find the dressing not very fitting. Back to the beginning!
Wednesday 5th October, 3 pm – I am sitting in the office and while my computer installs an update I doodle a bit in my calendar. I find the page where I take notes for recipe ideas and remember the unfinished fall salad. I note my ideas to omit the peaches and swap the goat cheese for feta cheese. That should work better. I am getting hungry again.
Taste Tasting and Shooting a Recipe
Tuesday 10th October, 2 pm – I am working from home and it’s time to get that salad recipe straight. A butternut squash is already roasted and the quinoa cooked. I have made a huge mess in the kitchen. I have spilled my PSL all over my counter and I have cursed, cleaned and cursed more. Business as usual! Because I am a genius at multitasking I mentally go through all available props in between all the cursing and settle for my newest ones from Toronto.
Tuesday 10th October, 4 pm – The fall salad is ready and after some experimenting, testing and getting the okay from my husband I have the perfect dressing to let the salad shine: Creamy Tahini! I seasoned it like hummus without the chickpeas and it gives the salad the finishing touches it lacked so far. I am indeed pretty happy.
Tuesday 10th October, 4.15 pm – I have set up my backdrop and props and I am ready to start. But after it was overcast for the whole fucking day the sun decides to interrupt my shoot. Also I spill dressing on me, the floor and my chair for the second time this week. I cuss and sulk a little and share my annoyance with my husband. Then I decide to give it a try anyway.
I move around the scene close to 10 times until I have a picture in frame that I like. When I am done I
force ask my husband to give me a hand or two quite literally. He’s a star aka he has resigned to his fate a long time ago. So he follows my directions and after a few minutes we’re done.
Tuesday 10th October, 5.00 pm – I start to clean up. By now I am stained in tahini dressing. I toss all the salad components in a big bowl and add the remaining tahini dressing. I freaking love that stuff.
Tuesday 10th October, 8.00 pm – I have cleaned up the mess in my kitchen and myself. I also have worked on my dissertation for a good two hours. But because I want to admire the fruit of my labour now I transfer my pictures to lightroom. I pre-select a good 20 and then pick one showing the Tahini dressing. I edit it and share it on instagram.
Editing Pictures and Writing a Recipe Post
Wednesday 11th October, 7 pm – I am back from work and conveniently forget to make dinner. Instead I spend a good one and a half hour editing pictures and making a pin for pinterest.
Thursday 12th October, 7 pm – I have finished work for the day and I am bluntly ignoring to make dinner. I have thought about sharing the process behind my recipe development for a bit and I think this Healthy Fall Salad with Creamy Tahini Dressing is a really good example. It takes me about 2 h to write that posts and I giggle to myself multiple times. Stefan doesn’t even bat an eye. He is already used to that.
Friday 13th October, 7 am – I am editing the post one last time, correct a few typos (hopefully all of them) and finally hit publish. I quickly calculate how much time thinking about, shopping for, trying, testing, trying again, shooting, editing and writing this recipe has taken me and I instantly try to erase that knowledge from my mind. Because if I had invested that time in my dissertation instead I would have finished the damn thing probably in 2015 already!
And if you really made it until here you are a true rockstar and you have deserved to get this recipe now! Here you go!
- 1 medium butternut squash
- 1 T bellpepper powder
- 2 T vegetable oil
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup dry red quinoa
- 6 fresh figs
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 2 handful of rocket
- 3 T tahini
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp bell pepper powder
- 1/2 tso cumin
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- Preheat the oven to 395°F (200°C)
- Cut the butternut squash in cubes and place it on a lined baking tray. Add the oil, bell pepper powder, salt and pepper. Roughly mix the cubes with your hands until everything is covered in oil and spices. Bake in the oven for about 30 min or until soft. Flip them over after 15 min.
- Cook the quinoa according to the instructions on the box. Set aside and allow to cool.
- Wash the rocket and cut into desired size
- Cut the figs into desired size
- Give all the ingredients for the dressing into a blender and mix until smooth and creamy. Add a bit little bit more water and blend again to reach a more liquid consistency. This might be necessary depending on the kind of tahini you use.
- Give all the ingredients into a big bowl and add the dressing
- Keep the salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two days