Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cooking Local: Beautiful Beet Salad

Seasonal farmers’ markets are something of a novelty for me. I’ve been to permanent markets in Montreal, where farmers sell some of their produce, but they just aren’t the same as the lovely little Redmond Saturday Market that I can walk to from my apartment. Redmond’s farmers’ market runs every Saturday from May through October, and seems to be different each week. There are some constants: the quiet farmer right at the entrance whose produce is all organic, though he no longer carries the USDA organic certification, because he “doesn’t need to pay the government to tell (him) something (he) already knows,” the various food vendors, like the crepe stand, the tamale stand, and the Hawaiian ice stand, the eggs and dairy stand where you can get chicken eggs that were gathered that very morning, and the farmer with long hair that runs all the way down his back, who always tells you what he’ll be selling the following week. What changes, though, is the produce on sale because, of course, as the season progresses, the crops that are ready for harvesting change. I try to go to the market without a plan in mind in terms of what I’ll buy: I purchase whatever inspires me and then I work with that.
Recently, what inspired me were a few items that came together in a salad I have made several times before. I don’t know when exactly this salad became popular, and I’m not entirely sure whether or not it’s still considered “in”, or if it has been demoted to passé status, but it is a favorite of mine. I helped to make it at a wine dinner at my school about a year ago, I’ve had it at Seattle’s amazing Crush restaurant, and I’ve seen it on the menu at several other establishments. I’ve also made versions of it at home, experimenting with slightly different ingredients each time.

The salad in question is a beet salad, made with some kind of green, or often a combination of a few varieties, tossed with a vinaigrette, usually balsamic, and dotted with roasted beets, chèvre, and often some kind of nut, usually walnuts or hazelnuts.

This time, I made mine with farmers’ market spinach, and green beans that I blanched and shocked (dropped into boiling water for about 45 seconds, then immediately plunged into ice water to stop the cooking process), unfortunately not from the market …
… farmers’ market beets, which I roasted and quartered …
… and amazing chèvre (goat’s cheese) that I got at Pike Place Market. I had the opportunity to chat with the farmer who makes the cheese and I got to hear all about how his goats live their lives, which was very cool!
I tossed my spinach and green beans with homemade balsamic vinaigrette, then laid it out on my fancy-schmancy square white plate:
I roasted the beets by wrapping them in tin foil, then tossing them in the oven for 45 minutes. When they were tender, I let them cool for a few minutes, then removed the skin simply by rubbing them with a paper towel—trust me, it comes right off! When the beets cooled completely, I quartered them, and then placed them gently in the salad.

Next, I dotted the salad with some of that amazing chèvre, and drizzled it all one more time with the vinaigrette.
I didn’t use nuts this time, but when I do, my favorites are walnuts. I think this salad is visually stunning, and absolutely delicious. The combination of roasted beets and goat cheese is heavenly. Actually, if you’re not a big fan of beets, but you’re willing to try them again, I can’t think of a better way: this salad will please almost any palette.

I won’t give a proper recipe, because you should definitely try making a version of your own. Try different greens, different vinaigrettes, and different vegetables. Go to your local farmers’ market, and see what inspires you!

No comments:

Post a Comment