Beets with Arugula “Cheese” and Orange

by Susan on May 29, 2014

Raw Beet with Arugula "Cheese" and Orange

Beets with Arugula “Cheese” and Orange (recipe follows post)

An  Easy Elegant Appetizer and a Story

I exhaled on Tuesday for the first time in 5 months. Not your normal exhale but a long  breath from deep down inside. As the air escaped from my lips, months of pent up stress traveled with it. Finally, a feeling of pure joy and delightful expectation started to overcome me, along with complete exhaustion. 

Many of you know that I moved to California from Minnesota 2 years ago. It was a big move and many adjustments had to be made. About a year ago, with the blessing of my partner, Peter, I started looking for a new house. We wanted a home that reflected our life together, and how we wanted to live. Peter’s house was a bit too big and formal and I desperately missed having land. 

Looking for a home in the Bay Area is not an easy task. Soaring real estate prices, and limited availability are two tricky obstacles that needed to be overcome. Add into that a desire for multiple garages (Peter) and land (me) and the term, “looking for a needle in a hay stack” comes to mind. 

My other biggest challenge was finding a kitchen that I loved. I write this blog,  write cookbooks, and am a professional food photographer. I spend hours in the kitchen daily. It is not only the place I prepare food, it is my office and my inspiration place.

All of the houses we looked at had beautiful kitchens. The problem was they were someone else’s idea of a beautiful kitchen.

 My kitchen is completely plant based. I need a great flow. Having to make extra movements takes time and frustrates me. None of the kitchens would work the way I needed them to work. And redoing new, lovely kitchens was out of the question. 

Then one rainy day, my realtor, Pat told me she had found a property that she thought we should look at.

I had already seen this home online and ruled it out. The turquoise and black bathroom, the 1970’s kitchen, and an exterior that was, shall we say, less than attractive? But she insisted (mostly because it had a huge garage for my car-building sweetie) and it also had a little land. 

The drive up to the house was an adventure. We were only minutes from a major highway, smack dab in the middle of civilization and all of a sudden we were on a tiny road, climbing, twisting, and turning. And the views…oh the views! Both jaw dropping and stomach dropping all at the same time. 

We emerged at the top of the ridge, and houses started appearing. As we pulled into the driveway, I took one look and thought, “No way, this house is not for us.” But the beautiful acre and a half had caught my attention with it’s twenty plus heritage oaks. And the views off the front were amazing. 

Then we walked through the front door. Two story windows greeted us with a stunning view of Mt. Diablo in the distance. “Holy cow, I thought, “This is amazing.”

A quick walk through revealed a home that was well loved but looked like it hadn’t been updated since it was built in the early 70’s. It needed help. A lot of help. 

But at the same time, it had potential. Amazing potential. 

I will save you all the details, but it took over a month just to determine if we would buy it. Meeting with the builder, numerous inspections to make sure it was still sound and a lot of tricky negotiating to get it to a price that would accommodate the entire renovation that was needed. 

While all of this was going on, I found myself driving up the windy road a couple times a week. There was something magical about this place that was calling out to me. Needless to say, I was falling completely in love with what at that point was only a dream and I had no idea if it could become reality.

The second part of the story was getting our house ready for the market. That is what has been keeping me away from the blog. Day after day of cleaning, clearing out, painting, fixing up, staging. It was exhausting work but in the end, with a lot of help from my daughter, Kaia, it all paid off. On Monday, the last major hurtle was cleared and I exhaled. 

So, now you know what I have been up to, and I apologize for my absence.  To celebrate being back in the kitchen, I put together a beautiful and easy appetizer I know you will simply love. 

Beets, a light and fluffy arugula “cheese spread”, oranges and walnuts create a tasty and balanced flavor profile. Make this for your family or when entertaining. The only advance preparation is throwing the cashews in water the night before you want to make it. Cheers and enjoy!

Raw, Vegan Beets with Arugula "Cheese" and Oranges at


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{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

The Vegan Pixie May 29, 2014 at 5:17 pm

Congratulations on finding your dream home! I hope it all works out for you :).
I would never have thought of mixing rocket (or as you call it in the US, arugular) into a cashew cheese! This sounds very intriguing. I may have to give this a go! Thank you :).


Eileen May 29, 2014 at 8:04 pm

Mt Diablo is a great view! This is so deliciously simple, I must try it the next time I want a tasty starter!
Thanks for such an inspirational post.


Lana May 29, 2014 at 8:32 pm

YAY! Welcome back! Been missing your posts. Congrats & Good Luck on the new home. Blessings, Lana


Kathleen Buehner May 29, 2014 at 8:56 pm

That cheese sounds so tasty! I’ve got to try this! Thank you and enjoy your new home!


Susan May 29, 2014 at 9:19 pm

Thank you, Lana! It’s nice to know I have been missed. :-)


Susan May 29, 2014 at 9:29 pm

Thank you, Pixie! I am sure you won’t be disappointed. The arugula works beautifully with the beets and oranges. The walnuts are the crowning touch. Cheers!


Susan May 29, 2014 at 9:29 pm

Thank you, Kathleen! I will be posting pictures of the remodel. Cheers!


Susan May 29, 2014 at 9:30 pm

Eileen…yes, it is beautiful! You must be in the bay area! And you are welcome! Cheers!


Jasmine May 29, 2014 at 9:51 pm

This looks delicious, I bet the flavors combine so well! I’ve never had raw beets before, only canned or roasted. Do they taste much different raw?


Susan May 29, 2014 at 9:56 pm

Hi, Jasmine, the flavor of cooked beets is a bit more concentrated. Raw beets are wonderful, too! Cheers!


Kat May 30, 2014 at 12:12 am

Would skipping yeast affect the taste/texture much?


Susan May 30, 2014 at 10:22 am

Hi, Kat, The nutritional yeast is a dead yeast. It is there to add a flavor layer. You certainly can omit it but maybe throw a dash of tamari in? Cheers!


Sarah May 30, 2014 at 2:19 am

I’m glad everything has come together at last. When you’re in the middle of renovations it sometimes seems it’ll never end, doesn’t it!

Looking forward to more tasty recipes. This one is on my list to do in the near future.


Laura May 30, 2014 at 4:19 am

This recipe looks amazing (simple & delicious!), and I’m so happy for you. What a great inspiration!


Tiffany May 30, 2014 at 6:29 am

I’m imagining some Amazing dinner parties on your new property, Cheers!


Ursula May 30, 2014 at 6:36 am

Thank you so much for your recipe which sound and looks delicious! Love your “non-cook” book and the beautiful pics!!! Wish you all happyness and joy in your new home! Regards from Switzerland


Katherine May 30, 2014 at 7:12 am

Congratulations on your new home and welcome back!!! I’ve missed you!!!


Susan May 30, 2014 at 10:21 am

Thank you, Katherine!


Exploding Mary May 30, 2014 at 7:57 am

What a lovely combo, and as a major fan of arugula, I’m thrilled to see it used in a plant-based cheese.

I know the fun (and torment) of having a house from that era that hasn’t been updated– as a look the wood paneling in my basement and the reflective wallpaper in my master bath would show. It’s stunning how hard it is to find a kitchen not based on grilling meat, isn’t it? We must press on and educate the world. Best luck in your new food prep area, which I’m sure, like mine, is the heart of the house.


Glenda May 30, 2014 at 9:24 am

Looks delish! I love beets, pickled, cooked, & raw but haven’t had them raw in a while. How do you eat this appetizer: do you “fork-it”, or just enjoy red fingertips for a while?


Susan May 30, 2014 at 10:34 am

Hi, Glenda, You can either use a fork or if the beets dry a little, you can pick them up. But, yes, you might get a little of the dreaded pink fingertips. Cheers!


Jane May 30, 2014 at 10:12 am

So glad that your pent up creativity has burst forth in this delicious sounding (and looking) recipe. Thank you so much for this offering. I know that yours will be a mutually beneficial move, both for your lucky house to get the updating and love it deserves and for you in opening pathways for fresh inspiration you express SO deliciously. I’m just grateful to be subscribed to this.
All my best wishes and thanks!


Susan May 30, 2014 at 10:33 am

Thank you, Jane! I must admit, it was wonderful to be back in the kitchen! My sweetie is very happy about it too! Cheers!


Pamela May 30, 2014 at 10:16 am

Congratulations and thank you for sharing your life with us! I’d love to see photos of your new house, well, at least the kitchen and views. :) Good luck with everything.


Susan May 30, 2014 at 10:32 am

Thank you, Pamela! I will be posting pictures and stories the whole way through. Today I meet with the arborist as we have about 20 heritage oaks that desperately need attention. Cheers!


Christi May 30, 2014 at 10:18 am

Congratulations! Looking forward to new house pics! Especially your new kitchen. I’ve been making a Mathew Kinney recipe regularly, with thinly sliced raw beets, fennel and faux goat cheese with candied walnuts. I need to eat beets weekly for my gallbladder issue, but I am getting bored with the same recipe so this is a god send. Can’t wait to try it!


Susan May 30, 2014 at 10:31 am

Thanks so much, Christi! Enjoy!


Demi Garner May 30, 2014 at 10:24 am

So happy for you, Susan! What an adventure for you and Peter. Looking forward to seeing some photos!


Susan May 30, 2014 at 10:31 am

Thanks, Demi! I am going to be posting pictures of the whole thing. Should be fun. It is currently in complete demo mode…what a mess!!


Susan May 30, 2014 at 10:39 am

Thank you Tiffany! We have a HUGE deck that overlooks the mountain. I think you are right….lots of dinner parties! Cheers!


Susan May 30, 2014 at 10:41 am

Thanks, Mary! Yes, renovation is daunting but so fun. I can’t wait to bring this one to it’s full glory! And we have metallic wall paper in one of the bathrooms….well it was there a couple of days ago. I believe it is in the dumpster today… Cheers!


Sue May 30, 2014 at 10:41 am

I’m new to the raw food diet and am loving it so far. Question: I had a really nasty experience years ago when I took a bite out of a raw red beet I had grown in my garden. My mouth and throat were on fire and felt dry as a bone! Nothing helped but to wait (a very long time) for the sensation to dissipate. How do you avoid that with the raw beets in your recipes?


Susan May 30, 2014 at 10:46 am

Hi, Sue, I can say I have never had that experience in my life with raw beets. Are you sure it wasn’t a radish? Can it be that you were allergic? Or that something from the garden had gotten on the beet? Do you have the same problem with cooked beets? Beets do contain oxalic acid. Maybe you have a sensitivity to it. Cheers…


Sue May 30, 2014 at 11:10 am

It was definitely a beet. I peeled it prior, too. My husband also had a similar experience as a child with a beet from his parents garden. Cooked beets are not a problem. I was thinking maybe I could “cook” them raw with vinegar, like one would do with raw fish and lemon juice. Have you tried that?


Raine May 30, 2014 at 11:11 am

Susan, congratulations on finding such a treasure! It sounds amazing! I loved reading your story, and can’t wait to see your kitchen. I’m intrigued about the flow, and would love to see the features you incorporate to make it fit your lifestyle and needs. Looking forward to the pictures and trying this delightful looking app! Best :-)


Barbara Weith May 30, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Susan, I so relate to your experience with the house search and remodel. When my late husband (also Peter) and I
moved back to the States from Germany, we were disappointed about the postage stamp sized properties, etc. Then, like
you, the dream property was found on a canyon on the edge of a cul de sac in San Diego. My kitchen also went through one
heck of a remodel to make it perfect for my cooking/un-cooking passion like you. I am also a native Minnesotan. I just
love your creative, colorful recipes and photos – I have a whole file folder full of your wonderful creations — along with
my own as well. Glad to have you back! You are such an inspiration.


romi May 30, 2014 at 9:22 pm

super yum….. making this tomorrow! thanks, as always for another awesome recipe!

your new home sounds wonderful! ENJOY!


Adrienne May 31, 2014 at 3:32 pm

Just got the ingredients and can’t wait to try. I’m trying to make friends with beets and this combo intrigues me. Thanks and congrats on the new home!


Susan June 1, 2014 at 11:21 am

Thank you, Adrienne!


Simply Rawesome May 31, 2014 at 5:51 pm

Wow! We’re living parallel lives! I empathize with you as I’m going through the exact same thing … moving from hubby’s huge home in a stuffy golf and country club community (subdivision) to a charming cottage on 3 acres. YAY!!

This recipe looks fabulous! As soon as my life settles down a bit, I’m definitely going to make this. I LOVE beets!!

Congrats and best wishes on your new home. Before and After Pics are ALWAYS WELCOME!!! =D


Susan June 1, 2014 at 11:21 am

Sounds so fun! I love cottages and it is so nice to have land again!!


Heather May 31, 2014 at 7:58 pm

this sounds very tasty. Thanks.


Susan June 1, 2014 at 11:20 am

Thank you, Heather!


Susan June 1, 2014 at 11:25 am

Thank you, Romi! Wish you were here to help me with the 1 1/2 acres that hasn’t been touched for about 20 years!


Susan June 1, 2014 at 11:26 am

Thank you, Barbara! CA real estate can be daunting. But gems are out there!! So fun to hear about your projects.


Lyn Perry June 5, 2014 at 2:16 am

This looks amazing but I am allergic to yeast. Is there an alternative?? Thank you


Romi June 9, 2014 at 9:13 pm

Hi Susan,

I made this last week and ate almost all of it by myself, it is OUTRAGEOUS! I am having a pot luck tomorrow night and doubled the recipe so there will be enough to share…. haha! I ALWAYS make your recipes for my pot lucks and people are always blown away by how good they are…. Even the non Vegans just love them! You make me look good as a cook ( or non cook as it is)!

I may be out there this fall…… lets talk about the landscaping!

Much love,



Nya June 12, 2014 at 10:24 am

is yeast an important part of this recipe and if so, is there a substitute or can i just cancel out the yeast?


Susan June 12, 2014 at 12:25 pm

You can leave it out. It adds to the flavor and you will lose a little flavor depth. Nutritional yeast is not a live yeast. Cheers!


Nya June 12, 2014 at 10:30 am

in my not so far away future, i am looking for the perfect home also. i felt your strife in finding the property you seeked and it made me feel that when i begin my search, that perfection will be waiting for me! Happy your happy!


patricia August 9, 2014 at 7:39 pm

oh I think this will be one of favs lol


Susan August 21, 2014 at 1:24 pm

Hi, Patricia, It’s a good one, no? Cheers!


Ashlee December 3, 2014 at 11:54 am

I’ve been looking for more beet recipes! I’ll definitely be trying this one out.


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