Tag Archives: bloody sorrel

Roasted Beet Salad with Arugula, Sorrel, and Hazelnuts

I like to think I’ve always enjoyed vegetables — especially those others would prefer didn’t exist, let alone show up on their dinner plates.  The what are those, how does one prepare them, cook, or eat them vegetables.  But my perspective was limited early on by what so many of ours has been:  the availability and affordability of certain types of fresh vegetables as well as what our mothers actually served us.

Which brings me to beets.

The only beet I recall sitting on my dinner plate was a deep magenta slice of somewhat gelatinous matter not too unlike the canned cranberry sauce sliced and served at our holiday turkey dinners.  It was smaller in circumference and served with iceberg lettuce suggesting it was a salad.  My mother might tell me otherwise, but I’d also venture a guess cottage cheese was involved — or something white — and remembering our fridge, know that had to be it.  Creamy, soft goat’s cheese, salty feta, or crumbly cotija would not have been regulars in our cheese drawer which housed my stepfather’s sacred box of Velveeta, a wax-covered package of American cheese slices, and a green can of Kraft Parmesan.

I never learned to enjoy the taste or texture of those beets,  an odd combination of sour and sweet and something I thought should be warm instead of cold.  Years and years would pass before I learned of how one  friend enjoyed them — from jars with spooned sauce drizzled over a homemade chicken pot pie hot from the oven.  I can hear her now singing the dish’s praises with the accent her small town Texas roots provided her, and remember watching the respective juices ooze and mingle across the bowl she served the meal in.

I did not want a bite regardless of how happy she was about the idea and suspect she knew it was an odd favorite, goading me to take a bite.  I loved her in spite of that beet fiasco because don’t we all have at least one oddball of a dish we secretly enjoy?

Since that time, I’m embarrassed to admit that as much as I realize how good beets are for my body, I still have not quite learned to fully enjoy them.  I see them among the other vegetables I routinely purchase and pass them by unless I see rainbow beets, or golden beets.  Somehow their beautiful color tempts me to stop and wonder an extra second or two before I give in and throw them in the basket, giving them the benefit of my persistent doubt.  But rarely do I consider picking up a bunch of red beets unless I’ve seen a recipe somewhere that suggests I might reconsider trying them.   And I’m still reconsidering, because I do try them, then decide not to share the recipe.  What favorable comments might I make when the recipe isn’t what’s lacking, but my palate?

Beets leave me thinking that sure, the flavor is okay, and possibly bordering on pleasant,  but I can’t shake the memory of those Harvard beets years ago sitting on my lettuce and making everything pink.  We’ll call this salad made of roasted golden beets with arugula and sorrel picked from my sad excuse of an herb box a truce of sorts.  My continuing attempt to enjoy beets.

I’m not quite there yet, but maybe.

You?

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Chicken Wrap with Spicy Greens

I’ve been working on our patio for a few months now trying to make it more functional and enjoyable.  It’s a narrow area that wraps along two sides of our house and much different than the half-acre of hillside we tended at our former house.  At first, the idea of having so much less to manage outside was attractive because we were busy with our jobs and moving closer to the ocean and a beautiful seaside community that would inspire us to get out more and enjoy weekends full of sun and fun.  But I’m a gardener — I always have been.  And as much as the weather is often quite gorgeous here, I’m content to spend time outside digging in the dirt.  Unfortunately, that hasn’t been very easy for the past few years.

A former owner had planters installed on the patio and made less than smart choices about what was planted in them, so now, several are completely root bound.  Old flagstone capping has loosened from the planter walls, much of it cracked or broken completely.  The fence, although beloved by my cats for its great scratching post qualities, was more a termite high rise.  Tearing it down took little thought.

I’ve always kept pots of annuals and herbs, and for the first time two years ago, began growing tomatoes in pots.  About a year ago, I put together a small herb box as well.  This year, one of the tomato pots has become a salad greens pot.  It may not seem like much, but I can tell you the snails would be quite upset if I ever got rid of the little herb box.  And this year, they’ve truly enjoyed picking out all but one variety of salad green from the new pot.  Who knew snails had such discriminating palates — erm — radula?

Even though my patio is small by suburban yard standards here, I could squeeze the few things I enjoy harvesting in an even smaller space such as a balcony if I had to.  In other words, it doesn’t take much to grow a few of your own veggies and or herbs.  I’d enjoy planting even more among the roses and succulents I’m currently planting in the newly filled, capped, and painted planters, but until those plants are established, adding anything edible to them isn’t advisable and may never be.  Hence, the pots I have are a great idea because I can move them around according to the seasons and sunlight.

My tomato plants are sporting grape-sized fruit, but the idea frying tiny green tomatoes isn’t as appealing to me as plucking some of the salad greens, a few leaves of the perennial bloody sorrel that continues to thrive, some wild arugula, and purple basil.

Perfect for a wrap with a bit of left over chicken and, if the patio was finished, a nice lunch outside with a good book.  All in due time.

Are you a gardener?  Do you have an outside space to relax in when the weather is pleasant?

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