Salads of Summer

The colors are coming, the colors of summer, sunshine on a plate, beautiful and strong…corn, summer squash, multi-colored beans, carrots, chard, fennel and more. But the most beautiful color of all, the deepest and richest…beets!

Beet Couscous. I didn’t get to this dish until a week after we got our beets in our boxes, but I can’t resist sharing this picture of couscous cooked up with matchstick beets and sweet onion, a bit of salt, cumin, hot paprika, some extra virgin olive oil and a splash of freshly squeezed lemon. I added Clementine wedges toward the end of the cooking time and a mint garnish — which could easily be minced and part of the seasoning. Oh, and some broken walnuts. Just as beets turn my pickled turnips into the most beautiful color, so with the couscous.

I use whole wheat couscous (a pasta), by the way. The one that I buy locally in the Middle Eastern section is called Maftoul, and they make a lovely whole wheat version that cooks up in no time according to the box directions to add to the beets and onions.

Navy Pea Bean Salad with Dill & Lemon. The beet salad contrasted nicely with another dish I took to a party this weekend, one of my favorite summer salads topped with roasted summer squash, Navy Pea Bean Salad with Dill and Lemon. I did treat myself to the luxury of getting some fresh dill to add to my cooked beans. That minced dill (lots) with freshly squeezed lemon juice (lots), some extra virgin olive oil, chopped red onion, salt and a bit of hot paprika make a simple but so delicious and nourishing entree for me — or one among several salads I’ll enjoy through the week. The trick is not to overcook the pea beans.

Moroccan-style Beans. This coming week, I’m going to make Moroccan-style Beans with the multi-colored beans we have coming. Here’s the recipe for those:

  • Green beans, 1 lb.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1/4 cup
  • Plum tomatoes, 4 petite diced
  • Tomato Paste, 4 TB
  • Garlic, 3-4 cloves minced
  • Turmeric, 1.5 tsp.
  • Cumin, 1.5 tsp.
  • Salt, 1.5 tsp.
  • Hot paprika, 1 tsp.
  • Lemon, juice of 1/2

Sauté the minced garlic in the olive oil, add the petite diced tomatoes, tomato paste and other seasonings and simmer for a short while. Add the prepared beans, stir, cover and cook for about 30 minutes, less for very fresh, tender beans. Then stir, replace the cover and cook another 30 minutes (or less if beans are tender), and adjust the seasonings to taste.

Mixed Greens Salad. Last but not least, my salad the day I get home from working at the farm. Our fresh greens with some remaining radish, red cabbage and cucumber dressed with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt and some crushed red pepper…sitting out on my deck enjoying the day and my simple meal, reminiscing about a beautiful (if hot) day out in the fields planting and weeding and harvesting. Oh my.

So I’ll end with calling your attention to these amazing colors once again. In the winter we have to look a little to find color. In the summer, our senses are flooded — not to mention the way these colors announce their healthy benefits in every bite.

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

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