Monday, August 25, 2014

Beet & Plum Salad

I love the change of seasons. That gentle, nearly imperceptible shift from summer to autumn is my favorite. 
It comes in, barely noticeable, on the tops of the warm summer breezes, chasing at their heels. A coolness, the smell of earth, the little changes in the light ~ 

My neighborhood farmers market starts not too early every Sunday morning. And there isn't anywhere else I would rather be, coffee in hand, pick over produce for the coming week. Its become a ritual I've come to cherish. 
Apples, fennel, cob nuts, the most gorgeous colored beets and sweet plums have been first on my shopping list of late. 
They bridge the gap between the light sweet flavors of summer and darker earthier flavors of autumn. 
This salad mixes some of those early flavors of autumn with some of the last bits of summer lightness. Rich jewel tone beets, sweet english plums, toasted shallots, and creamy goat cheese ricotta. 

Poach the beets covered in a baking dish in the oven with a bit of red wine vinegar and water to really release their sweetness. The skin should be tender enough that you won't need to peel them just make sure to scrub each really well before putting them in the oven. Use the freshest ricotta or better yet, make some! Its really very easy and super satisfying. Bring a pint of goat's milk and a dash of salt up to just boiling, take it off the heat, stir in 3 tablespoons of fresh squeezed lemon juice, stir once or twice and let it stand for 5 minutes. Then pour the mixture into a strainer lined with cheesecloth. I like to keep the whey that runs off and use it in smoothies! After about an hour the ricotta should be ready.

Beet & Plum Salad 

1lb of beets. mixed colors but roughly the same size. scrub well and place in a shallow baking dish with 1 cup water and 1/4cup red wine vinegar, cover with foil and bake aprox 1 hour at 200C/400F until tender. When they are cool slice, rough chop into various sizes - the different textures are wonderful. keep lighter color beets away from the darker red if you want to keep their color. 

1/4 lb of plums. washed and chopped 

1 large leek sliced very thin and toasted over a low heat with a knob of ghee until tender add in 1 clove crushed garlic and  1 tsp grated fresh ginger and cook another few minutes until fragrant.

For the dressing, whisk together in a bowl the juice of 1 lemon, 1 lime 1 tbsp honey 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill a pinch of sea salt and a grind or two of black pepper. Then whisk in the cooked leeks & ginger. discard the garlic clove. 

sautee a few shallots in ghee over a very low heat until lightly browned and crisp. transfer to a paper towel to drain and cool. should make some leftovers which will keep in an airtight container for a few days.  

Mix chopped beets & plums through half the dressing (reserve some to drizzle over the top), stir through until everything is well coated. 

Plate the beets along with any golden beets, if using, and a large dollop of the ricotta. drizzle with some of the remaining dressing and sprinkle with a generous handful of crispy shallots 

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