road trip: an appalachian picnic

road trip: an appalachian picnic

quinoa & roasted fennel and parsnip salad with raw honey vinaigrette

road trip: an appalachian picnic

road trip: an appalachian picnic

It’s full on autumn, autumn flirting with winter even, and I’m finally back home here in Tennessee for a month. If you’ve been following along on Instagram, you’ll know that I’ve been wandering as of late. There are seasons for digging your roots in deep, seasons for sprouting upward, no fear of heights. But it’s good to be home in the South during my favorite season, the season of words like crisp and smoke and everything shivering, a last hurrah of leaves aflame. Well, usually. The pernicious leaves remained green despite it being October. But the air beat of fall regardless, so I took a drive into the mountains my bones call home for a creekside Appalachian picnic complete with tiny fennel olive oil cakes and this quinoa, fennel, and parsnip salad with a raw honey vinaigrette & 5-minute eggs, the recipe for which I’ve included after the jump. My partner for this little expedition, GMC, lent me a rather swanky Yukon for the trek, and given that I come from a third generation car dealing family (I’m the only one that took a different route…), I couldn’t resist the opportunity to try out a truck that could actually fit the large amounts of things & humans I haul to and fro events and workshops, dinners and gatherings of all sorts.

road trip: an appalachian picnic

road trip: an appalachian picnic

road trip: an appalachian picnic

road trip: an appalachian picnic

quinoa & roasted fennel and parsnip salad with raw honey vinaigrette

road trip: an appalachian picnic

And, not gonna lie, heated seats, a back-up camera, and bluetooth so that I can inflict my inane, up-beat music on my dear friends cord-free are all selling points. So, we loaded up the back (after reacting to the button that automatically lowers the seats in the back like confused, medieval peasants equal parts mystified, thrilled, & frightened by the technology) with wicker and woven grass filled with all manner of picnicking goodies and headed to Blue Hole, an exceedingly pretty spot near my house complete with giant boulders and crystal clear, blue water that I, in a different life, used visit to both drink tall boys and kiss human boys. This was much better, and I have a strong preference for this life. This picnic was a little reclaiming of this spot, a re-christening.

We shared sparkling cider, cake, Tennessee ham sandwiches, a cheese plate featuring two of my local favorites, Sequatchie Cove Shakerag Blue  and Noble Spring’s goat feta, as well as local sopressata from Main Street Meats here in Chattanooga. And some pimento cheese. Cause Tennessee, y’all. The main affair was my new favorite whole grain salad, a mix of quinoa and caramelized roasted parsnip & fennel with the crunch of sprouts, tamari roasted pepitas, shaved shallot, and all soaked in a simple raw honey vinaigrette with luscious 5-minute eggs on top.

road trip: an appalachian picnic

road trip: an appalachian picnic

road trip: an appalachian picnic

road trip: an appalachian picnic

road trip: an appalachian picnic

quinoa & roasted fennel and parsnip salad with raw honey vinaigrette

quinoa, apple and roasted fennel & parsnip salad + raw honey vinaigrette

Yield: 8 side servings


    For Salad
  • 1 1/2 cups dried quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, cored & cut into bite sized chunks
  • 1 large parsnip, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
  • 1 firm, tart apple, cut into 1/2" chunks (optional)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sprouts like sunflower or alfaalfa
  • 1/4 cup tamari roasted or plain pepitas
  • 1 small shallot, shaved or sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • For Vinaigrette
  • zest of one lemon
  • juice of two lemons or 1/4 cup
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup raw honey (or to taste, sometimes I use as much as 1/3 cup)
  • a three finger pinch of kosher salt (or to taste)


  1. Heat the oven to 450°F (~225°C). Toss the fennel and parsnip with the olive oil on a sheet tray and season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Set aside while until the oven comes to temp, then roast 25 minutes, stirring half way through, or until veggies are browned and tender but not mushy. You want them to hold up in the salad and still have a little bite. If they're tender but not yet brown, pop them under the broiler for a minute or two to get color on them and avoid over-cooking.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the quinoa. In a medium pot combine the quinoa with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15-20 minutes until the water is absorbed. Remove from heat, let sit an additional five minutes covered, and then fluff with a fork.
  3. While the quinoa is cooking, make your five minute eggs. Cover eggs in cold water, bring to a boil, immediately remove from the heat, cover the pot, and allow them to sit for five minutes. While they sit, prepare an ice bath. Gently remove the eggs to the ice bath after the five minutes and peel once cool. Slice in half and sprinkle with a bit of course salt and set aside.
  4. Make the dressing. Combine all ingredients except for the olive oil in a bowl and then slowly whisk in the oil to emulsify.
  5. Once the quinoa and vegetables are cooked, allow them to both cool to room temperature and then combine them in a bowl. Toss in the apples, if using. Pour the dressing over the salad and stir to combine thoroughly. Taste and add additional salt or lemon juice if desired.
  6. Top the salad with the sprouts, pepitas, feta, shaved shallot, chopped parsley, and eggs. Serve at room temperature.

road trip: an appalachian picnic


The sandwich breakdown:

Tennessee country ham, sliced thin with quick pickled shallot (in a honey apple cider vinegar brine), parsley, and cranberry chevre. Would also work with a bit of jam and chevre if you can’t get your hand on the cranberry coated logs of it. On baguette. So simple, but so good.

road trip: an appalachian picnic

road trip: an appalachian picnic

road trip: an appalachian picnic

road trip: an appalachian picnic

road trip: an appalachian picnic


Disclaimer: This was a sponsored post, and I was compensated for my participation. As per usual the opinions & ramblings herein are all my own.

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40 Responses to road trip: an appalachian picnic + quinoa roasted fennel & parsnip salad

  1. Marianne says:

    This all looks so good! I will definitely be trying the salad, I love quinoa! Also, I need to have something other than halloween candies for a change :p

  2. Gorgeous photography as usual, you really capture something special in your photos. The salad recipe sounds fantastic too, I absolutely love fennel so will definitely try it out!

  3. cynthia says:

    “after reacting to the button that automatically lowers the seats in the back like confused, medieval peasants equal parts mystified, thrilled, & frightened by the technology” = this delights me in every way possible. As usual, thank you for sharing your lovely words, adventures, and wealth of inspiration.

  4. Christie says:

    Such a pretty place for a picnic! The food looks divine. And yes, once having heated seats, a back up camera, and bluetooth, it’s almost impossible to go back.


  5. Beautiful writing, incredible photos, and a delicious recipe! Your blog is the definition of perfection.

  6. ashley o. says:

    what a divine spread……quaint and lovely, the salad looks wonderful and the ham sandwiches look and sound awesome! ~ashley

  7. Ashley says:

    This is what I call a picnic. Everything looks so yummy!

  8. What a delicious spread! Your photos are gorgeous and looks like such a special day.

  9. Heather says:

    Gorgeous posts like this one make me want to spend all my time outside.

  10. Amanda Kohr says:

    Beautiful photos!

    I love Blue Hole. I went to JMU, and we frequently visited that space on days with few classes and during the summer. Though our picnic spread was far less picturesque; we often had a six-pack of Bud Light Lime and a bag of tostitos. :)

    Enjoy your trip!

    Amanda //

  11. Miranda says:

    I am not a fan of quinoa, but the look of that salad is so appetizing I felt myself craving for it!! Your photography is, as usual, quite heartwarming, making me crave for a simple life – which I actually lead – filled with moments of wonderment and joy.

  12. When most people go on a picnic, they bring a couscous salad in plastic Tupperware and call it a day… But of course, your picnic would be astounding in its choice of location (what a beauty!), plating, and of course, food. That salad looks scrumptious, though I’m not a big fan of raw fennel… Would celery work in its place? Thank you for providing the inspiration!

  13. I love picnics and the truck is amazing. That’s just what we need when we go off on our excursions — my hubby can take all of his fishing gear and I can take all the things I need for cooking, taking photos and blogging. Oh — I do need some clothes too. Our SUV is not the huge size — we need huge size. Your recipes look delicious and I love quinoa.

  14. Susan says:

    What a beautiful way to spend and afternoon, everything looked delicious! Thanks for the beautiful blog post and the recipes. Any chance you could let me know about the straw bag, it’s just what I have been looking for!

  15. Stunning photos! I just did a road trip around catalunya… And when it comes to picnics, anywhere you go, a few simple + quality ingredients is all you need. Cheers!

  16. What a gorgeous picnic! You had a lovely spread on what looked like a lovely afternoon. I think I’d love the textures and flavor combination of that salad, and I can’t wait to make it.

  17. wendy d says:

    So gorgeous! Besides the scenery and food, I love the ceramic ware. Might you share where it is found?

  18. jodi says:

    This makes me want to picnic with you :) Excellent as always.

  19. Nicole says:

    Lovely photos! No better way to spend a beautiful day than a picnic with delicious food!

  20. Gah! What a dream. This picnic looks perfect and what a salad! Lovely.

  21. Oh Beth, I don’t know how you do it, but your ability to tell a story through your photography is insanely amazing. And the salad, don’t get me started. It looks FAB
    thanks for sharing ;)

  22. You are the kind of writer who welcomes all with your words. i always feel like i am reading the journal of a good friend who also happens to be the coolest person i know. thank you.

  23. I SO want to come along on one of these amazing excursions that you immerse yourself in someday. Wonderful recipe and photos as always. Love listening to you speak, Beth. Thanks for sharing.

  24. What a picnic!
    The pics are fabulous as usual.
    Just five minutes for the eggs?
    Best regards from Madrid.

  25. Santuzzas says:

    In Italy we don’t use a lot do do picnic but i love them. They remember me my California time. :) Beautiful pics! :)

  26. clarice says:

    This is what I call a picnic. All looks so yummy and delicious!

  27. Sylvie says:

    Hi Beth,
    I made and loved the salad! The egg-cooking technique was perfect. I added a bit of bacon and it worked great with the other flavors. Thank you for the recipe!

  28. Lori says:

    Gorgeous and inspiring!

  29. SMAP says:

    The Appalachians during fall is one of the most beautiful places ever.

  30. Wow, this little trip looks dreamy! I will definitely have to try this recipe. Thank you so much for sharing.


  31. this looks so idyllic and delicious, I must create the LA version:)

  32. This salad sounds perfect…and the vinaigrette…yum. Your photos are transporting…just gorg’.

  33. […] This appalachian inspired picnic: Being from the South, I’m learning to embrace my roots and heritage in different ways. More than anything, I’m enjoying being around people from different cultures and nations, and rewriting many of the misconceptions that comes with saying you’re from Kentucky. I digress. Beth from Local Milk is always on point with her styling and this picnic is reminding me of the rolling hills and backwoods of home. When warmer days come, I’ll be reenacting this beautiful moment. Now where’s the fried chicken and biscuits? […]

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