Gingin’s Pre-Wedding Girlfriend Party With a Lovely Beet Salad

Beet salad dressed

I haven’t written about Virginia Ripley yet. Our beloved Gingin. Family but not by blood. By love and affinity. We absolutely could not live without her in our lives. I met Virginia when Alex was a month or so old. She was 6 or 7 and couldn’t have been more beautiful herself. When Alex was 18 months old, Virginia’s mother Cindy Ripley of Luna Garcia fame ( offered up Virginia as a Mother’s Helper – a notion I could not resist. And that was the beginning of a beautiful thing. I was a single mom and Virginia, Alex and I spent every Saturday together (or almost every Saturday) for so many years.

She went through it all with me and had the final say on any guy who wanted to date me (there were only 3). Alex spent countless hours with the Ripleys on weekend nights when I was lucky enough to have a date and I would scoop him up into my arms, off the couch in their living room, at the end of the evening, him smelling of a sweet bath bestowed by the loving Cindy and daughter. I don’t know what I would have done without my village. Of course Virginia’s life expanded and every Saturday waned – but not our mutual love and respect – that endures. She is an extraordinary young woman – like her Mother. I owe Cindy Ripley a debt of gratitude for raising an amazing daughter and for being so open and willing to share her beautiful girl with us. Which brings us to today.

Gingin is grown up and a teacher and a writer and as of last weekend – a wife! Her wedding was beautiful and romantic and moving and a labor of love by her family and friends. On the Thursday night before the wedding Virginia had a gathering at our house of her BFFs – all 13 of them! It was a ton of fun. I cooked and then we all cooked. A lovely, perfect evening and I got a chance to spend time with Virginia’s girlfriends – a gift itself and they are all lovely women and I loved meeting them.

We had a nice meal. Everyone enjoyed the food and I could not have pulled it off without Ariane – One of Virginia oldest friends – hailing from elementary school. Ariane lives in Paris with her husband and is plotting her return!. Ariane stepped in and took over the quinoa cake preparation and cooking. It wouldn’t have happened without her and they were a smashing success! We had beet and orange salad with avocado lime dressing. We had warm lentil salad with carrots, onions and a mustard vinaigrette. We had roasted eggplant (charred actually) with a walnut sauce. AND….. we had the quinoa cakes. The wine and laughter flowed. So much fun. A great way to start the wedding weekend!

Citrus Beet Salad

(-adapted from a vegan blog with some interesting recipes)

Beet salad dressed

For the salad:

3 medium red beets

3 medium golden beets or a mixture of any kind and color of beets (I used white, striped, golden and red)

2 oranges

A plateful of baby romaine leaves – enough to make a ‘bed’ for the beets and oranges

¼ Pumpkin seeds (roasted in the oven until they puff up)

For the Avocado Lime Dressing:

½ cup avocado without the peel

¼ cp coconut cream (the thick stuff in the can)

5 Tbsp fresh lime juice, more to taste

1 Tbsp agave nectar or other sweetener

2 Tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice

1 Tsp grapefruit juice

Pinch of salt


Preheat the oven to 375°

Trim the ends off of both ends of the beers and wash well. Place a few beets on a large piece of tin foil, drizzle with olive oil and wrap up. Do the same for all of the beets. Place the beet packets onto a baking sheet and road for about 30 minutes, plus or minus, until a fork pricks through fairly easily. Check beets after 20 minutes of roasting and every 15 minutes afterwards so that you don’t over cook.

With oven mitts on, carefully open the foil packets and allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Peel off the skin and discard. Slice beets into wedges.

Colorful beets

While the beets are roasting do two things:

1) lay the pumpkin seeds on a tray and put into the oven with the beets keeping a VERY close eye so as not to burn them. Cook the pumpkin seeds until they pop.

2) prepare the citrus. De-pith and slice into segments. Set aside and reserve the scraps of juicy flesh for the dressing.

Blend the Avocado Lime dressing ingredients together in the food processor. Adjust seasonings and add salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble, lay out the romaine leaves on a platter and scatter the beets (or at least make it look like they’re scattered) and the oranges on the plate.

Plattered beets

Dress the salad or serve the dressing on the side. Top with the roasted pumpkin seeds. Voila!

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