Whew, so last week was HOT. And although we’ve had a wee break from it, I’m anticipating some more hot and humid days ahead. So when I saw the beautiful bounty and diversity of veggies for this week, I decided to make two delicious salads to get me through the next couple of days. So here it is – a tale of two salads.
The first salad I tossed together is a panzanella. If you’ve never heard of this salad, it basically uses toasted bread, fresh herbs, and veg. I was SO excited to get the season’s first beets and wanted to really let them shine. Roasted whole, diced, and nestled in amongst toasted bread, bocconcini, fresh dill, and cherry tomatoes, these beets sing (actually, it’s quite a beautiful chorus of lovely veg voices). The dill adds a wonderful aroma, the tomatoes a sweet acidity, and the bread a bit of heartiness. This is the kind of salad that will get you through the afternoon with a spring in your step. Highly recommended for lunch or a light supper.
The second salad has a base of spelt berries (from Sonset Farm) and massaged kale. I wanted a grain salad that would be filling but still light and veg-forward, and I think I got just that. The shelling peas add bursts of sweetness, the toasted pepitas an earthy nuttiness, and the parmesan a salty deliciousness. If you didn’t get kael, I’m pretty sure swiss chard would work really well, too! I’m delighted by the results and will definitely be making this salad again.
If you’re not digging the idea of a week of salads, here’s a couple more ideas for you to ponder…
More Magnificent Meal Musings:
- Lettuce Soup (I know, it sounds weird, but there are some really cool recipes out there!)
- Fresh Pea and Ricotta Crostini
- Pickled Beets
- Kale and Olive Tagliatelle
- Kale and Mushroom on Toast
- Lettuce Wraps
This salad is such a great combination of bright beautiful vegetables and herbs. I used sourdough bread in this recipe, but I had originally planned on rye and I think that would also be absolutely scrumptious (it would certainly bring more earthiness into the dish, whereas the sourdough added more brightness). Instead of bocconcini (which is mild and has a soft texture) you could use ricotta salata (salted ricotta) for a more salty approach. All-in-all, I love the result I got – it's a salad where no ingredient gets lost in the chorus, and every component sings.
- 1 bunch beets (I got 4 small-medium sized ones)
- 1 container cherry tomatoes
- 4 Tbsp dill, torn
- 1/2 loaf bread (I used sourdough), torn into small chunks
- 1 1/2 cups mini bocconcini
- 5 Tbsp olive oil, divided
- 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar, divided
- salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350.
Cut off beet stems, leaving about one inch of green above the root. Place whole beets in a dutch oven (or oven safe pot with a lid). Pour in 1 Tbsp olive oil and rub over every beet, so they are fully coated. Place pot in oven with the lid on, and cook for about 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of your beets, until a knife easily cuts through.
While the beets are cooking, prepare the bread. Toss the torn bread with 2 Tbsp olive oil, salt to taste, and a dash of fresh pepper in a bowl. Pour bread onto a baking sheet and place in the oven (on a rack unoccupied by the beets). Toast until lightly brown around the edges, about 8-10 minutes.
Remove the stems from the cherry tomatoes if present, and slice in half (or into quarters if it's quite large). Place these in a large salad bowl. Add the fresh torn dill and halved mini bocconcini.
When beets are cooked, remove from oven, and once able to handle, rub the skins off the beets (you can use a clean tea towel or paper towel, I just used my hands but it was hot!). Slice into 1/2-1 inch pieces, and place in a bowl with 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar. Place in the freezer for 5-10 minutes to speed cooling.
To the bowl of tomatoes, bocconcini, and dill, add the beets and bread. Add remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp vinegar. Toss well. Sample and add more oil and vinegar as needed. Enjoy!
Kale and Spring Pea Spelt Salad
This is a lovely grain salad that is joyously not overtaken by the grain. It is a decidedly veg-forward grain salad, which is bright and fresh with the kale and peas, and hearty and filling with the help of the spelt and pepitas.
- 1 cup spelt berries
- 3 cups water
- 1 bag kale
- 1 bag shelling peas (about 3/4 cup shelled peas)
- 1/4 cup toasted pepitas
- 1 lemon
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp salt
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup shaved parmesan
Start by cooking the spelt. Rinse the grain, and add it to a pot with the water. Bring to a boil, cover, and let simmer for about 35 minutes, or until cooked but still chewy and toothsome (no soggy grains!). Drain, and rinse well with cold water.
Shell the peas into a small boil and add to a pot of salted boiling water. Allow to cook for about 1-2 minutes, being sure to not overcook – the peas should still be bright green. Drain and put in ice water.
Take the stems off of the baby kale, and tear into pieces into a medium bowl. Add olive oil, juice of 1/2 a lemon, salt, and pepper. Massage the leaves until tender and reduced in size.
Use a vegetable peeler to shave off pieces of parmesan.
Add 1 1/2 cups cooked spelt berries*, peas, parmesan, and toasted pepitas to the kale. Add the juice of the second half of the lemon. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve garnished with fresh shavings of parmesan.
*I cooked more spelt berries than the recipe called for, because I love to have it around for last-minute salads and grain bowls.