Roasted Beet and Beet Green Salad

Farmer's Market Beets

Farmer’s Market Beets

I love it when a cool dense fog settles on the Santa Cruz Mountains this time of year. The Sunday morning farmer’s market is quieter with its offering of squash, root vegetables and dark hearty greens. This week I picked up a beautiful cluster of beets. I always use the greens, washing them carefully, and either quickly sauté with garlic and olive oil or blanch them and dress with a vinaigrette. Today I decided to use the beets and the greens together in a salad.

Wash the greens well and scrub the beets of all the dirt that still clings to them.

Washed Beets and Greens

Washed Beets and Greens

Wrap the beets in foil and roast at 400 F until a fork pierces them – about an hour depending on the size of the beets. Run the beets under cold water and peel the skin off with a pairing knife. Slice into rounds.

Blanch the greens in boiling water for about 3 minutes. Using tongs remove the greens and drop into ice water to stop the cooking. When they have cooled down remove from the water – squeeze dry and chop into bite sized pieces.

Blanched Beet Greens

Blanched Beet Greens

Make a vinaigrette: finely chop one clove of garlic, add to 3 tbsp of olive oil , 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, and a tsp of Dijon mustard. Mix well and pour over the arranged beets and greens. Salt and pepper generously.

Beet Salad

Beet Salad

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Insalata Caprese

Sometimes the most simple dishes prepared with high quality ingredients are the best. I am not here to teach complicated techniques or use hard to find ingredients. My goal is to help inspire home cooks to enjoy fresh, beautiful and healthy food. It is easy to eat this way every day.

It is tomato season again. My garden is overflowing with ripe tomatoes and basil. There  is nothing more simple to prepare in this season than an insalata Caprese. If you don’t have a garden, don’t worry, most markets have beautiful heirloom tomatoes and bunches of fresh basil. You’ll need to go shopping anyway because you will need some nice mozzarella or burrata cheese, good quality olive oil and, even though it’s not traditional, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Here are my basil “trees” that have gone a little to seed. I pop off the tops of the basil plant and fill a vase with the fragrant buds. Then I carefully pick healthy looking leaves to wash and use.

Garden Basil

Garden Basil

I am growing several varieties of tomatoes this year. These are Sun Gold tomatoes and are delicious and sweet.

Sun Gold Tomatoes

Sun Gold Tomatoes

I also have Early Girl, Juliet and Pineapple tomatoes growing out of control.  I like to mix up the tomato variety in my salads. Slice the larger tomato into rounds, and quarter the smaller tomatoes – leave some whole too. Slice the mozzarella into rounds or tear it for more texture. If you are using burrata cheese place it in the center of the dish and cut into quarters to be shared. Distribute the basil evenly over the salad so each serving gets a little. Drizzle with a generous amount of olive oil, squeeze lemon juice then generously salt and pepper.

Insalata Caprese

Insalata Caprese

Serve with a crusty loaf of bread.

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Summer Salad

Grapefruit Slices

Grapefruit Slices

I grill a lot of our meals in the warmer months of summer. I love to offset the charred meats and vegetables with a refreshing, crisp salad. One of my favorite salad ingredients is grapefruit. I take a whole grapefruit and slice off the rind – white pith and all – with a sharp knife. This is similar to removing the outside skin of a cantaloupe melon. Then, using the knife, slice out the grapefruit sections leaving the inner membrane behind. Squeeze all of the juice from the remaining membrane into a bowl to use as dressing.

Today I had some celery, radishes, cucumber, avocado and cilantro in my vegetable drawer. You can use lettuce, parsley, tomatoes, carrots – any fresh vegetable on hand that can be eaten raw.

Salad Ingredients

Salad Ingredients

I make the dressing by taking three tablespoons of the grapefruit juice, one tablespoon of red wine vinegar, and three tablespoons of olive oil. Shake these ingredients in a small jar or just whisk in a bowl. Salt and pepper to taste.

Fresh Summer Salad

Fresh Summer Salad

Arrange the ingredients on a plate or shallow bowl. Spoon the dressing over the salad making sure to evenly distribute. Enjoy!

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Late Summer Salad

I returned from all my travels this summer to find my tomato plants the height of small trees. The amount of ripe fruit on them ensures that I, along with my friends and neighbors, will be eating these beautiful tomatoes for months to come.

Tomatoes in Every Size

Tomatoes in Every Size

Today at the market avocados were $1 each and perfectly ripe so I bought five. Tonight I am grilling some cumin rubbed steaks so I naturally thought of guacamole – but extra chunky and as a salad.

Beautiful Ingredients

Beautiful Ingredients

Tomatoes, avocado, minced garlic, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper – that’s it.

Chopped

Chopped

Mix together – season to taste – and watch it disappear!

Guacamole Salad

Guacamole Salad

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