And An Herbed Beet Greens And Butter Lettuce Salad Was Born!
If you’re getting a CSA or shopping the farmer’s markets, look for healthy and perky leaves on your beets for a double whammy as beet greens make fabulous salad. They have a wonderful, rich, mellow flavor, and their tender leaf makes for a nice crisp salad chew! I chopped the greens and thinly sliced one beet for a quick salad, but should experiment with the tearing method as the greens may have a better aesthetic that way.
Aesthetics aside, the flavors in this salad were quite complex and enjoyable. One of my weekend menus called for Farm Fresh Spring Rolls that were to include rice noodles, beet greens, butter lettuce, mint, basil, fennel and dill, but I ran into a bit of a materials snafu and had to alter the course. Before I discovered my missing ingredient (forgotten spring roll wraps), I made a spicy sesame ginger dressing which ended up topping the beet greens and spring roll herbs in a wonderful accident. Toasted sesame oil pairs well with the buttery nature of beet greens and the ginger-garlic-spice made for an interesting and delicious surprise flavor.
Here’s an approximate recipe for the dressing. You will want to taste and adjust especially the soy sauce. I don’t like the dressing too salty, so find that I add the aminos slowly.
Spicy Sesame Ginger Garlic Dressing:
1 cup toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 Tbs. Braggs Liquid Aminos
2 Tbs. honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1 inch piece ginger, minced
1/2 tsp. dried chile flakes
This salad was followed by a simple collard stir fry with ginger and garlic, spicy tofu and jasmine rice.
I know, I know. We’re not supposed to serve anything with bits of green at a party, but we’re all friends. If someone starts to bare their teeth ever so slightly and seems to be fighting an uncontrollable urge to stick a fingernail between two teeth, take that as a cue to excuse yourself to the bathroom for a green speck check. What else are you supposed to do when basil is in season?
I have to admit something. I still have basil pesto in my freezer from last summer. It’s true. I like the stuff a lot – once a year. It’s just too rich for me. It’s easy to overdose on it. So, I like to use my basil to make chimichurri instead. It still holds the wonderful basil flavor and you can use it much the same, but it’s just a little lighter. I learned about chimichurri while living in Ecuador where it was mostly made from parsley and used as a condiment for meat or empanadas. Every now and then, in different restaurants, I detected different herbs. That was all the permission I needed to think outside the box with chimichurri. I have made it with whatever herbs I have on hand, and it always tastes great.
My patio herb pot is exploding, so I plucked a huge pile of greens including rosemary, thyme and sage. The basil came from the CSA, and the cilantro is local but from the co-op. As you can see, chimichurri is a great accompaniment to fresh tomatoes, a lovely spread on sandwiches or a great condiment for any warm savory summer dish.
I never know what to do with the abundance of feathery fennel frond. I’ve often used a little chopped up in a salad, or a few sprinkles on a sandwich, but I always end up feeding most of the fennel fronds to the composter. Today I decided to make a pesto from it. I like that licorice flavor and thought it might pair nicely with the Onion and Fennel Galette I made. I didn’t want it to become too rich, so I left out any nuts and only used parmesan and garlic.
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 cups fennel fronds
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup parmesan
Throw it in the food processor. Add oil until you reach a creamy consistency. Nada Mas.
I found this cool old globe stand today at Hunt and Gather http://www.huntandgatherantiques.com/, rigged it up with an old hanging basket I had, added the bay topiary in the middle, and the CSA herb pot from Foxtail Farms got separated and planted. It’s a thing of beauty!