Holy crap it’s September.
I swear that May Long Weekend just happened, and I am un utter disbelief that the leaves have begun to change – in Calgary, at least. It was a busy, happy, hot, beautiful summer, and it would be dishonest to say that I’m not sad to have it come to an end. However, autumn is my absolute favourite time of year, which helps ease the pain a little bit.
I love the fall for the following reasons: Pumpkin everything. Apple everything. Colder weather = scarf weather, and I love scarves. Beautiful changing leaves. Lesser risk of sunburn on my pale, pale skin. Being able to have the oven on all day and not turn my house into a sweat lodge.
This year, I have an even greater reason to be excited for the arrival of September: I leave for Italy on the 18th! This will be my first trip to Europe, and will fulfill my lifelong dream of visiting Rome, Venice and Florence to experience firsthand the art, architecture, food and wine. Particularly the food. I’m declaring gelato an appropriate breakfast food.
I just realized I’m now 5 paragraphs in and I haven’t yet mentioned the salad recipe I’m sharing today. Whoops. This is what happens when I haven’t posted in a while – I get excited and start to ramble.
We have been getting lovely beets in our CSA basket for the past few weeks, and I couldn’t think of a more perfect first autumn recipe to share with you. I adore beets, despite the fact that they make my kitchen (and my hands) look like the scene of a crime. The mess worth it for their sweet, earthy flavour and lovely jewelled colour.
My preferred method of cooking is to bake them whole: skins on, wrapped individually in foil, roasted in a hot oven until tender. That way, the skins slip off easily, and you don’t lose any of the flavour as you might, say, if you peeled and boiled them. Your hands will still get stained – unless you use gloves, which I can never be bothered to do.
I love the simplicity of this salad. You really have to use the freshest and best ingredients you can. Fresh herbs and real lemons are a must, and try to use your best extra virgin olive oil and your favourite black olives. All of the flavours really come through and complement each other, and you may not achieve the same result if you use bottled lemon or dried herbs.
I served this salad warm with a buttery rice pilaf on the side, and both were just as good cold leftover the next day. It is the perfect summer-to-fall transition recipe, as it combines the best of both worlds: bright, summery herbs, lemon and greens paired with earthy beets and briny olives. Enjoy!
- 4-6 medium sized beets
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 1 tablespoon chopped mint
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup black olives, pitted
- 4 handfuls salad greens (spinach, romaine, leaf lettuce or arugula)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Wrap the beets individually in foil and bake until easily pierced with a knife, about 45-60 minutes depending on the size of your beets. Allow to cool slightly, then slip the skins off the beets. Slice into quarters or sixths.
- In a medium bowl, combine lemon zest, juice, parsley, cilantro, mint, coriander, salt, pepper and oil and whisk to combine. Toss beets in the dressing.
- On a large platter (or small individual plates), spread the salad greens into an even layer. Spoon the beets and olives on top and serve immediately.
Source: Adapted from The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison, Beets with Lemon, Cilantro, and Mint recipe.