I recently reread two of my favorite books: Stoner by John Williams and Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. The main characters in each book—Professor William Stoner and Reverend John Ames—lead unremarkable lives. Both men lived in the American midwest during the early and mid-twentieth century. The major events of those periods―two world wars, the stock market crash, and Great Depression—colored the background of their lives but largely passed them by. There was nothing very remarkable about either man, and this is what made their stories compelling. Stoner was a literary scholar and teacher, Ames a small town preacher―they shared a tendency toward approaching life with extreme restraint. Passion didn’t enter their lives easily and when it did, it was both brief and, for Stoner, tragic. This is what I love about their stories―they were humble and human. Most of us are more like them than the people we tend to read about our celebrity-driven culture. Stoner learned in the middle of his life that love was more than an end, that it’s a process of getting to know someone over and over again. Ames held his infant daughter in his arms for just a few seconds before she died―moments after she was born. He counted those seconds with her as the best in his life. Sadness and joy were one and fleeting.
But oh how remarkable the fleeting moments are!
This Roasted Beet Salad with Greens, Mint, & Mixed Berries also begins with humble ingredients. Ruby-red beets are roasted in the oven to make them tender and sweet. Tossed with their own beet greens, garlic scapes, fresh mint leaves, and mixed berries they are then dressed with a bit of buttermilk to form a remarkably refreshing summer salad. Simple but elegant, humble yet grand, I’d love to serve this salad to either Stoner or Ames and be a part of the experience of passion in their lives.
Have a great 4th of July holiday.
I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.
Note: I am taking a brief vacation. Please watch for my next post in mid-August.
Beet Salad with Greens, Mint, & Mixed Berries
Yield: 4 to 6 Servings
- 1 bunch fresh beets (5), with their greens
- Handful fresh mint leaves
- 2 garlic scapes or scallions, slivered
- 1 cup mixed berries
- ¼ cup sweetened coconut flakes
- ¼ cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper
- Separate the beets from the greens. Rinse the beets to remove any excess dirt. Place on the prepared sheet pan and roast in oven until tender, about 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
- Peel roasted beets and cut into bite sized pieces.
- Rinse the beet greens thoroughly. Dry and trim. Place on a large serving platter.
- Scatter the prepared beets over the greens. Add the garlic scapes, berries, and coconut flakes.
- Drizzle the salad with buttermilk, olive oil, and lemon juice. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Serve and enjoy.
- If the greens on your beets are not intact, substitute 4 cups spinach leaves or mesclun mix.
- For a heartier salad, add some grilled chicken or goat cheese.
One year ago: Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes
Two years ago: Mixed Berry and Semolina Tart
Three years ago: Anise Short Bread
Four years ago: Thai Inspired Greens