I spent this past weekend down in Baltimore, where the heat index was in the triple digits. Baltimoreans are a hardy lot. And so I joined them in a series of outdoor concerts, cookouts and stoopside dance parties. At some point I gave up on apologizing as another kiss landed on my glistening cheek. Best to focus my energies on hydration.
Adequate sleep was not among the activities I managed to cram into my weekend. I dozed fitfully–my sweaty, sun-baked body lolling into the aisle as the Bolt But hurtled up I-95–and arrived home just in time to down some takeout before collapsing into bed.
The temperature dropped a bit today, but my body has yet to catch up. What is ordinarily a 10-minute walk to pick up my CSA share took me nearly double. By the time I got home, bags laden with green vegetables, I had lost all ambition to cook. Luckily, Farmer Fred excels when it comes to lettuce and I still had the beets from last week’s share. The salad below came together in less time that it took to eat it.
Raw Beet Salad with Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette
- 1/4 cup whole milk yogurt
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- black pepper
- 1 tablespoon good quality olive oil
- 1/4 preserved lemon
- 3 medium beets
- 2 tablespoons walnut pieces
- 1 small head green leaf lettuce
- 3 scallions
- 1/2 bunch cilantro
- Whisk the first four ingredient together in a medium bowl and then slowly whisk in the olive oil. Finely chop the preserved lemon and add to the dressing.
- Using a mandoline, slice beets to 3/16″ thick. (If you don’t have a mandoline and your beets are small enough, a vegetable peeler will also do the trick.) Toss the beets with your dressing and let sit.
- Toast the walnut pieces, stirring frequently, in a cast iron skillet over medium heat.
- Rinse and dry the lettuce. Thinly slice the scallions. Mince the cilantro. Toss everything together in a salad bowl and grab yourself a fork.
For a simple supper at the end of a superb summer Sunday, macerate fresh chopped tomatoes and basil in a garlicky red wine vinaigrette. Toss with red leaf lettuce and croutons made from the remainder of Friday’s baguette. (If you happen to have a little Serrano ham left, so much the better.) Pair your salad with a wine spritzer using that Riesling that somehow escaped consumption mixed with a little seltzer.
The aforementioned Progressive Party left me feeling a little worse for the wear. It was Sunday and I had a mountain of reading for the next night’s class. I needed something quick and healthy that did not require venturing outdoors.
- 1 Kabocha (or other sweet winter) squash
- 1 tablespoon regular olive oil
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400. Peel and seed the squash (reserving seeds) and chop into 1/2-inch cubes. Toss squash cubes with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Pour into roasting pan and pop into oven. Toss rinsed seeds in same bowl along with cayenne and cinnamon. Pour into a small pan, cover loosely with foil, and pop in oven. Roast stirring occasionally until squash is cooked through and browning at the edges. Squash seeds should be toasted and/or have started to pop (hence the aluminum foil).
- 2 tablespoons plain greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons honey vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
- 2 tablespoons good quality olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 head red leaf lettuce
- 2 small apples, chopped
Whisk the first four ingredients together, adding a little more vinegar or some honey as you see fit. Toss the lettuce with the squash, squash seeds, apples and dressing. If you want to be fancy about it, you can reserve some of the seeds to throw on top.
I made a similar version of this with baby winter greens and butternut squash for a dinner party a couple of weeks later. This time, I included half of a thinly-sliced red onion, which I left to marinate in the dressing until just before serving. It was a big hit.