Take Care of the Teachers
Whenever there’s a chance to cook for my kids’ teachers, I do. My mom was an English teacher – the one who my friends always named as their favorite. I saw how much effort she put into her craft. She’d stay up late reading the journals she made her students keep, pushing them to find their voice and grow their writing skills. There were always papers to correct and new ideas to share. At the dinner table, her eyes lit up and we all felt her excitement as she told us about the quiet kid she got to speak up that day. She loved her job. The good ones always do.
I honor my mom by making something thoughtful for the fundraising events at my kids’ school. As the school year unrolls, I contribute dishes for bake sales, holidays, appreciation luncheons, whatever comes up. It’s important to me to support teachers, especially the ones like her who take time each day to make sure everyone learns what they need to know. I try to bring something a little unexpected, unique and maybe even fancy. Teachers are worth the extra effort. They deserve a special dish that says ‘thank you for all that you do.’
The first food event of the year just passed, a buffet set up at the book fair. The teachers spend their lunch hour adding titles to their classroom wish lists. Parents provide a nice spread to make eating at the same time a little easier. This year, I brought a roasted beet and orange salad with goat cheese and toasted walnuts added for protein and crunch. Drizzled with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and a few scrapes of orange zest, this dish is light, fresh, perfect on an early fall day.
- 3 or 4 medium beets (about 1½ pounds)
- 8 sprigs thyme
- ¼ cup walnut pieces
- 3 navel oranges
- 2 ounces goat cheese
- 1 stem flat leaf parsley
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- sea salt
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Scrub beets, remove greens and wrap in foil with thyme. Place on a baking sheet and roast until soft in the middle when pierced, about an hour depending on size. If the beets are different sizes, remove the smaller ones first as they become cooked.
- Unwrap beets and set them aside to cool completely.
- Use a sharp knife to peel two of the oranges, making sure to remove all of the white pith. Slicing across the segments (in between the stem and blossom ends), cut orange into round slices about ¼" thick. This will give you the nice star-shaped pattern in the middle. Set slices aside.
- Place a small frying pan over medium heat and add oil. Add walnuts and salt and toast them, shaking the pan to make sure they brown evenly and don't burn. When they are ready, pour walnuts onto a plate to cool.
- Peel cooled beets using a paper towel to rub and remove the skin. Slice into ¼" rounds. Set aside.
- Place orange and beet slices on serving platter in layers so that some of each show. Be careful - the beets will stain the oranges so you may not be able to move them around much.
- Scatter lumps of goat cheese on top and then the toasted walnuts.
- Drizzle with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and, if you want, another layer of salt.
- Tear a few parsley leaves from the stem and place around the plate for garnish.