Ojai’s Table

Savoring and Celebrating Ojai’s Mediterranean Terroir

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Ojai's Table

The colorful and picturesque cover of Ojai’s Table hides more than a simple collection of recipes. Flip through the pages and you’ll soon discover the magic of this rural Southern California village that has – for more than a century – been a magnet for educators, artists, spiritualists and farmers. Through colorful essays, informative head notes, enlightening sidebars and illuminating quotes the author pays homage to a wonderful hamlet that is situated in a glorious east-west valley. It is a beautiful celebration of the people who inhabit the Ojai Valley and the crops that come to her tables.

But don’t let the stories totally distract you. First and foremost, Ojai’s Table is a cookbook. There are more than 125 original recipes each featuring locally grown Mediterranean ingredients like avocados, citrus, olive oil, walnuts, persimmons, lavender, tomatoes, pomegranates, zucchini … all the desirable and necessary makings for a healthy Mediterranean diet. And be on the lookout for some unexpected uses for those ingredients. Have you tried Avocado Chocolate Pudding recently? Rich, smooth, creamy, healthy and delicious, you’ll find it in the recipe section of this website.

So if you are a cook or a gardener or if you dream of being a cook or gardener, pick up a copy of Ojai’s Table, find a comfy chair and enjoy a rich collection of recipes, the intriguing snippets of Southern California history, the generous splashes of local color and the first-hand stories about farming life. This book is an entertaining tribute to Ojai’s natural beauty, Mediterranean terroir, artisanal foods and community spirit.

Author Bio

Karen Evenden, the author of the best-selling travel memoir and cookbook, A Taste of Croatia was born and raised in Buffalo NY and has a BS from Cornell’s School of Human Ecology and an MPA from the University of Washington. She has lived landside in Detroit MI, NYC, Versailles KY, Sydney Australia, Seattle WA and Ojai CA. She also spent more than 6 years living aboard a sailboat in the Mediterranean where she wandered the markets and prepared the foods of France, Italy, Greece, Turkey and Croatia.

In Seattle she owned a kitchen store and cooking school. In search of sunshine, she and her husband moved to Ojai CA where they became farmers – growing Ojai Pixie Tangerines, lavender, olives for oil and walnuts.


“Karen’s new book weaves the story of how two wonderful people stumbled upon Ojai, embraced the land, people, and of course the ingredients of our valley.  Karen is a must-invite to any Ojai potluck and we are blessed to be able to have her Ojai recipes in this new book. As you read through the recipes your mouth will water, you will be inspired in the kitchen and it just may get you thinking about sourcing some new edibles from Ojai’s farms.”
Emily Ayala
5th generation Ojai Citrus farmer
Friend’s Ranches

“History brilliantly told in this extraordinary book. Vivid and often moving for those who love Ojai.”
David Mason,
Ojai Historian

“Take this book into the kitchen and savor its delicious collection of recipes, but settle into an easy chair, too, and read Karen Evenden’s compelling essays. You will be transported to Ojai, learning its history and lore, connecting to its spiritual and artistic community, and letting yourself be drawn into the first-hand stories of the farming life. Ojai’s Table: Savoring and Celebrating Ojai’s Mediterranean Terroir is a wonderful tribute to natural beauty, artisanal foods, and community involvement.”
Diane Morgan,
Author of 17 cookbooks including Roots, winner of both a 2013 James Beard and IACP cookbook award

“Karen came to Ojai and fell in love. Her affection for the community she adopted, and her enthusiasm for the food she has shared with friends here, shines through her book.”
Anna Thomas,
Author of Love Soup

“We know how special the Ojai Valley is, especially those of us who live here.  When you add significant pieces of history and local color, it becomes even more special, and that’s what Karen has done with this book.  I think there’s more to “terroir” then just uniqueness of place.  It’s affection.  There is a deep and abiding affection for this valley we call Ojai, and Karen has helped us to understand that more deeply.  And to add to its deliciousness, she’s added a batch of savory, mouth-watering recipes that feature our local bounty.”
Larry Yee,
President and Coordinating Director,
The Food Commons and University of California Emeritus Advisor


Walnut Stuffed Dates

Yield: 18 pieces
These sweet and savory morsels are always a hit. Prepare them with dates purchased at the Ojai Farmers’ Market, sweet and crunchy Ojai walnuts and bacon from Westridge Market and you’ll have a genuine Ojai appetizer.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Make a lengthwise slit in each date and stuff the date with a walnut half. Cut each slice of bacon in half and wrap a piece of bacon around each stuffed date. Place the wrapped date on the baking sheet making sure that the tail end of the bacon is facing down. Bake until the bacon is crisp, 25-30 minutes. Using tongs, remove the dates from the baking sheet and onto a paper towel to drain. Transfer to a serving platter and serve.

Cook’s Notes:
• If you’re using thick-sliced bacon, you may need to bake an additional 5 minutes.
• Dates can be assembled in advance and refrigerated or frozen until ready to use. Baking times may need to be increased.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Apple Salad

Serves: 8 – 10
The colorful combination of crisp and soft textures and autumn’s favorite flavors will surely put this hearty salad on your post-summer menus. Save the leftovers for the next day or even the next couple of days. The flavor just gets better.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Cover a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick spray.  In a large bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, cumin, sesame oil and ½ teaspoon salt. Add the sweet potatoes and toss to coat. Spread the sweet potatoes in a single layer on the baking sheet and roast until the sweet potatoes are tender and lightly browned on some edges, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Cool to room temperature. In a small bowl whisk together the cider vinegar, curry powder, honey, Dijon mustard, ½ cup vegetable oil, salt and pepper and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the apples, grapes and cranberries. Add the sweet potatoes and any juices that have accumulated on the baking sheet.  Add the prepared vinaigrette and toss gently.  Refrigerate until ready to use. Sprinkle with almonds and serve.  Best served at room temperature.

Cook’s Notes:
• This salad is hearty and tasty enough to serve as a vegetarian entrée.