Summer has finally arrived here in the Pacific Northwest and our farmers’ markets are in full swing. I came home with a basket full of goodies on Saturday and spent a few hours on Sunday washing greens, cooking vegetables, poaching salmon and making a no-bake cheesecake so I could take a break from cooking during this week of 80 degree temperatures. A salad of butter lettuce, frizee, chilled salmon and cold beets with an orange vinaigrette was the perfect dinner after a busy market weekend. With all the prep work done ahead of time dinner was a snap to put together.
A Very Easy Way to Prepare Beets: Wash beets well and cut off greens, leaving about 1 inch of the stems. Place them in a baking dish, drizzle with a little olive oil and pour about 1/2 inch of water in the bottom of the dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake at 375 degrees for about an hour or until fork tender. Half way through cooking check to be sure there is still water in the pan. When cool gently peel of the skin and slice. That’s it. Golden beets are my current favorite because of their mild, sweet flavor and the fact that they don’t stain everything they touch. I have a large butcher block island in my kitchen and they can do real damage if I don’t pay attention. If I serve beets hot I add butter and salt and pepper. They get a splash of olive oil if I plan to serve them cold. I confess that I’ve never cooked the greens and would love a few suggestions about how to prepare them. They look like they are much too good for me to toss out.
One of My Favorite Ways to Prepare Salmon: Place salmon fillets or steaks on a large piece of foil. Top with sweet onion and lemon slices, chopped fresh dill and salt and pepper. Seal up the foil and bake at 350 degrees for maybe 20 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish. I baked a half pound piece for about 22 minutes and it was perfect. I think we are so worried about under cooking fish that we too often overcook it until it is dry and tasteless so watch it carefully.
Drizzle a vinaigrette of 1/4 cup orange juice, 1/2 teaspoon orange zest, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 clove garlic, minced and salt and pepper over the beets and serve with the salmon on a bed of crisp greens. Don’t forget some crusty bread and a nice glass of Oregon wine.
Cooked, Chilled Golden Beets