At Cheeky we want every meal to count, because we’re on a mission to make mealtime matter. From the food on our plate to those we share our meal with, we can make a difference starting at the dinner table.

That’s why we’ve asked Lily Kunin of Clean Food Dirty City what “make mealtime matter” means to her, and the dishes she’d share with the people they love using our new Ojai dinnerware collection. Lily is a plant-based cook and health coach based in New York City. Her cookbook Good Clean Food will be published in Spring 2017.

WHAT DOES "MAKE MEALTIME MATTER" MEAN TO YOU?

To me it means making space to appreciate the food on your plate, and gathering lots of friends and family around the table to enjoy it and have fun. It also means voting with your fork - what you put at the end of your fork matters and has the ability to transform how we are fed.

WHAT ABOUT THE DESIGN OF THIS PLATE, INSPIRED YOU TO MAKE THIS DISH?

When I think of Ojai, I think of local, seasonal California produce. That’s why I was inspired by the Ojai collection to make a bright, seasonal sunny salad using the best of fall’s bounty. I love the contrast between the roasted vegetables and the crispy, shaved root vegetables. This makes a perfect lunch or side for dinner. (find the recipe below).

IF YOU COULD INVITE ANY FOUR PEOPLE TO DINE WITH, LIVING OR NOT, WHO WOULD YOU CHOOSE?

There are so many people but in the vein of Making Mealtime Matter, I would love to dine with changemakers in the food space - Michelle Obama, Alice Waters, Michael Pollan, and Dan Barber. In fact, they probably all have had dinner together but it would be pretty awesome to be there for it.

WHAT ARE YOU FAVORITE TRICKS AND TIPS TO STYLE YOUR MEALTIME GATHERS WITH FRIENDS?

Most of my gatherings are super casual so it’s all about making guests comfortable so they can enjoy themselves. I love to serve family style or set up an assembly line for friends to make their own tacos or flatbreads. It’s equally important that the host (me!) enjoys themselves and is relaxed - family style or one pot meals make prep and clean up easier, letting you spend the most time with your friends.

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE QUESTION TO ASK GUESTS AT YOUR DINNER TABLE?

hat are you grateful for today? I may have first thought of this when it was the question of the day at Cafe Gratitude in LA.  It can be as simple as the organic, local food on the plate in front of us or not having to wait for the subway on the way home or a hot shower at the end of the day. It’s a simple reminder to not take anything for granted and that through the hustle and bustle of it all there is so much to be grateful for. Second would probably be what’s your most recent memorable meal and why?

THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS WE CAN DO TO HELP THE 1 IN 7 AMERICANS FACING HUNGER. HOW DO YOU CHOOSE TO HELP END HUNGER AND WHY?

I am lucky my mom is amazing role model that instilled in me the importance of public service and helping others. She has dedicated her whole life to ending poverty, which goes hand in hand with ending hunger. Then I was four years old, I began bringing groceries with her to a homeless woman in LA every Sunday. That completely shifted my perspective and encouraged me to volunteer and work for various nonprofits over the years. In NYC, I volunteer at an organization that delivers meals to the chronically ill and homebound, who otherwise would be hungry. I love coming together with other volunteers to prep the meals - it’s a lot of love that is being delivered to their clients. 

Read on to see the fun salad Lily put together with our Ojai Dinnerware Set.

Sunny Winter Squash Salad

Serves 2 - 4 

Ingredients
1 delicata squash, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed, and cut into ⅛” pieces
1 bunch of rainbow carrots, washed, peeled and cut into ¼” pieces
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Sea salt or pink salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 head of Red Russian kale, thick stems removed and chopped
5 leaves of Tuscan kale, thick stems removed and chopped
1 golden beet, very thinly sliced
1 watermelon radish, very thinly sliced
¼ cup quick-pickled onions
2 tablespoons sprouted watermelon seeds (can sub with a toasted nut)
 
Dressing
1 small shallot, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sea salt or pink salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
 
Avocado Toast
4 slices gluten free bread (or bread of choice), toasted  
1 large avocado, sliced
Juice of ½ lemon
Drizzle of olive oil
Flaky sea salt
Microgreens, optional
 
Method
For the dressing: Combine the shallot, lemon, mustard, salt and pepper in a food processor. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil until well combined. Season with additional lemon juice and salt as desired.
 
For the salad: Preheat the oven to 400℉. Line a baking sheet with parchment; toss the squash and carrots with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 - 35 minutes or until golden and the squash starts to get crispy.
 
While the veggies are roasting, add the kale to a large bowl along with a tablespoon of the dressing. Massage the kale until it softens and turns brighter, about a minute. Once the veggies are done roasting, toss half of them in with the kale along with the beets, radish, onions, and watermelon seeds. Toss with more dressing as needed and serve topped with the remaining delicata squash and carrots.
 
For the avocado toast: Top toast with sliced avocado. Gently mash it with a fork.  Top with a squeeze of lemon, drizzle of olive oil, pinch of salt and microgreens, as desired. Enjoy!