Gardens in the City, Gardens on Your Plate

A delicious, flower-filled visit to Portland, Oregon.

I recently traveled to Portland, Oregon, to spend some time in the city’s lovely botanical gardens for an upcoming Morning Beats television segment. Also known as “Rose City,” Portland has a warm summer Mediterranean climate, which makes it appealing to not only a wide variety of plants but also a wide variety of people.

It’s mind-boggling to me that Portland, Oregon, has the same climate as Porto, Portugal; Cape Town, South Africa; and parts of Sicily, Italy. But thinking about that latter similarity makes my favorite dish from the trip all the more enjoyable.

My friend Meghan lived in Portland for several years, and when she heard I was making the trip, she armed me with a list of things to do and — perhaps more importantly — places to eat. Every recommendation she made was a hit, but one in particular was really outstanding: Noble Rot.

In addition to having an award-winning wine program and seasonal menu, Noble Rot also has its own rooftop garden where many of the vegetables, herbs, and flowers used in its dishes are grown.

My favorite dish of the meal was Italian inspired: fresh burrata with a lightly-pickled snap pea salad topped with baby pea shoots and calendula petals and served with grilled sourdough. So simple, so straightforward, so fresh, and so delicious. It’s one of those dishes you have to force yourself to slow down and savor, because you’re tempted to inhale it all in one giant bite.

If you aren’t familiar with burrata, it’s an Italian cow’s milk cheese made with mozzarella and fresh cream. Burrata is literally cheese within cheese. The outside is solid, and the inside is soft and creamy. It’s wonderful with crusty bread, because you can spread it and scoop it up and really enjoy the contrast of textures. Any dish you would typically make with whole or sliced mozzarella, such as a caprese salad with fresh tomatoes and basil, is a good candidate for experimenting with burrata.

I’ve recreated the Noble Rot dish both with burrata and with mozzarella, and both versions were delicious. So if you can’t find burrata at your local grocery or cheese shop, you can still enjoy this week’s featured recipe during the height of vegetable season. Here’s to summer gardens everywhere, especially on your plate!

This week’s subscriber exclusives: While heading down the path of Italian inspiration, I tried my hand at one of the most intriguing dishes I’ve seen on the Netflix series Somebody Feed Phil. When he visited Venice, he ate classic Italian Fried Pork Chops that incorporated a quick and easy twist to elevate the dish in a way you could never imagine. It’s magical!

And speaking of magic, it’s tomato season — that incredible time of year when gardens are overflowing with their juicy goodness. Herb-Stuffed Tomatoes are the perfect dish for the ones that are slightly overripe but still incredibly delicious. They make a great side dish for the pork chops or a lovely light lunch all on their own.


Burrata and Snap Pea Salad

Burrata is an Italian cow’s milk cheese made with mozzarella and fresh cream. Burrata is literally cheese within cheese: the outside is solid, and the inside is soft and creamy. It’s wonderful with Grilled Sourdough, because you can spread it and scoop it up and really enjoy the contrast of textures.

I’ve made this dish both with burrata and with mozzarella, and both versions were delicious. So if you can’t find burrata at your local grocery or cheese shop, you can still enjoy this recipe during the height of fresh vegetable season.

4 oz. ball burrata
8 oz. fresh snap peas
2 shallots, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon summer savory leaves or 1/4 teaspoon dried ground savory
salt and freshly-ground black pepper
baby greens (e.g. pea shoots, watercress, arugula, radish and mustard greens)
edible flowers or petals for garnish (optional)

Trim the ends off the snap peas and cut larger ones in half. In a food processor, mix the vinegar, olive oil, garlic, basil, thyme, and savory. Add salt to taste. Place the snap peas and shallots in a bowl or jar, pour the vinaigrette over them, and toss to combine well. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the snap peas and shallots from the vinaigrette and place them in a pile on one side of a serving plate, reserving the remaining liquid to use as salad dressing. Plate the burrata beside the snow pea salad. Top with a handful of baby greens and, if desired, edible flowers or petals. Serve immediately with Grilled Sourdough. Makes four appetizer servings or two entrée servings.


For $5 a month, you can get an additional weekly issue of Around the World in 80 Plates that includes bonus recipes not available to the public.

This week’s subscriber exclusives:

  • Italian Fried Pork Chops: I tried my hand at one of the most intriguing dishes I’ve seen on the Netflix series Somebody Feed Phil. While visiting Venice, he ate a classic fried pork chop that incorporated a quick and easy twist that elevates the dish in a way you could never imagine. It’s magical!

  • Herb-Stuffed Tomatoes: And speaking of magic, it’s tomato season — that incredible time of year when gardens are overflowing with their juicy goodness. This dish is the perfect use for the ones that are slightly overripe but still incredibly delicious. They make a great side dish for the fried pork chops or a lovely light lunch all on their own.