Most of our fruit this summer will go into baked goods, but this week I’ve felt the need to eat lighter meals. It’s not the heat so much as it is the fact that this year has felt like a series of vacations – celebratory feasts strung together – and the only thing that is saving my waistline is constant activity. Soooo – I’m turning off the oven and taking a little break from added sugar and wheat – kind of like a cleanse, only without the juicing.
Without baking, and short of just eating the fruit whole, the best way to incorporate fresh fruit into our daily menus has been salads. I made this pretty salad to highlight a pint of the most perfect little plums from last week’s farm delivery. Just a bit larger than cherries, they definitely weren’t the same tennis-ball sized variety that I see in stores, but they were so juicy and so naturally sweet they made me think of the William Carlos Williams poem everyone learns in school.
This is Just to Say
I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious
and so cold
Those 12 lines are just about as perfect as my pint of small, juicy plums. The first time I read “This is Just to Say” – I think I was about 13 – it was a revelation to me that poetry, even the best poetry, could be a note left on the refrigerator: the stuff of every day life, an intimate conversation between two people.
This salad also makes use of my favorite new technique for roasted beets. My friend Diane over at AnnieRie Unplugged recommended dry roasted beets in salt – the beets turn out wonderfully tender without a lot of fuss. It works really well to just go ahead and roast them as soon as you bring them home from the market, slice them up, and use them for salads like this one.
If you don’t love beets already, try cooking with golden beets instead of the red variety. I’ve grown to love the earthy flavor of all beets, but golden beets are better for someone like me who prefers it when my food doesn’t bleed all over my plate.
- 3 plums, pitted and cut into wedges
- 3 medium golden beets, trimmed, scrubbed, and quartered
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
- 1 cup spinach leaves
- 3 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon coarse salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- ¼ cup crumbled feta
- Dry roast the beets. Stand up the trimmed beets - long tail down - in a glass bread loaf pan or a small casserole dish filled with about an inch of kosher salt. Place in a 400 degree oven and roast until tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Allow to cool and slip off the skins. Thinly slice the beets and cut each into quarters.
- Make the dressing. Whisk the vinegar, oil, ground pepper and salt together in a small bowl.
- Very gently toss the beets, plums, basil, spinach and dressing in a salad bowl. Sprinkle with feta and serve. Divide onto four plates, sprinkle with feta and serve.