It’s garden bonanza time! On my latest trip to the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market, the stands were packed with just picked produce, some of the area farm’s finest, just waiting to become another great meal. I went with some kind of salad in mind for a weekend family gathering and came away with a bunch of beets, bulbs of kohlrabi, bright green broccoli, crunchy carrots and a few other staples like onions and peppers of all varieties and some nearly end of the line blueberries and raspberries, too. When I got home the beets seemed like the obviously place to start since they’re hearty enough to travel and get along so well with all the other veggies. Besides, any member of the same flowering family of plants as the bougainvillea is beautiful to me. They’re also low in calories, fat & cholesterol and loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber and anti-oxidants. By mixing them up with a variety of more popular garden favorites, they will bring even the biggest beet-basher to the bright side. In the a recipe I came up, I added kohlrabi for a more atypical crunch. Kohlrabi is kind of a cross between a turnip and a cabbage with a thick outer layer that’s best when it’s peeled away. The insides can be cooked or eaten raw. There’s no need to discard the greens, either. They can be eaten as kale or collard greens would be. For the recipe I came up with, I just used the bulb. This can be served as a crunchy, sweet salad or a pretty side dish for whatever you have on the grill. Enjoy!
Beet Broccoli Bleu Cheese Kohlrabi Salad
5-6 beets, washed with the ends trimmed off
1 large or 2 medium kohlrabi bulbs, thick ‘woody’ outer coating peeled away
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 broccoli stalks with bulbs and stems, both chopped bite size or smaller
1-2 medium carrots, sliced julienne or chopped in small pieces
1 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts or pecan, toasted if preferred
1 cup bleu cheese
2- 4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1-2 Tbs white wine vinegar
1 Tbs honey
1 tsp. sea salt
Prepare the beets to your liking. They can be boiled, which is what I did. I just put them in a pan of water as my grandma used to and boiled them for about 20 minutes, until they were just tender, not mushy. The peels slip right off with a sharp knife when they are cool. Beets can also be roasted, microwaved, sauteed, steamed or charcoal roasted. To prepare the kohlrabi, cut away the thick, woody outer layer. Slice then julienne the bulb, discarding tough stem area pieces if necessary. Thinly slice the red onion, adjusting amount to your taste, depending on how strong the onion is – some have quite a bite! Wash the broccoli and trim the woody end of the stem away along with leaves on the stem. Chop the flowers and stem alike into bite slice or smaller pieces. Peel and julienne a nice sized carrot or two, or dice them into small pieces. Toss all the veggies in a large bowl gently with the raisins. Add 1 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans, raw or toasted. For the pecans I added, I first put them in a Ziplock baggie with dashes of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and a pinch of cayenne pepper and shook them to coat. Next I tossed them in a hot frying pan with a bit of sizzling butter and toasted them, turning often. I have also done this in the oven or on the grill. When they cool off, toss them into your salad mixture. For the dressing, I’m really guessing at the measurements here. You can combine the vinegar (use your favorite flavor for this – different vinegars can change the intensity big time), extra virgin olive oil (a lemon infused one works perfectly here) and the honey. Taste the dressing first and adjust to suit your palette. Add the salt in the same manner. When you have the right combo, gently toss your salad with your dressing. I add the bleu cheese very last, and some would prefer waiting until just before serving. This salad ‘sits’ very well with the flavors meshing nicely over time in your fridge. It’s light and inviting enough as a first course and satisfying enough to fill your plate next to a nice steak, salmon or chicken leg, fresh from the grill.