Sunday, June 22, 2008

Seasonal Solstice Salad

This is one of those recipes that is so time-of-year specific that it seems perfectly appropriate that it was our dinner on the summer solstice. Stasa and I went to the farmers' market this morning and found that the first new potatoes of the year were in. We also got a bunch of young beets there, and later at the food co-op I found that they still had local asparagus, although the asparagus season is just about over. I think I probably won't be able to cook new potatoes and asparagus together again until next summer solstice.

Solstice Salad

1 pint young beets (minus greens)
1 pint new potatoes
about 1 pound asparagus
four ounces feta, crumbled
olive oil
kosher salt

Grease a baking pan with olive oil and roast the beets and potatoes at 350 until done, shaking every ten minutes or so. Remove vegetables one at a time, as they finish cooking. Set aside to cool; once cool, cut into bite-sized pieces if not already small enough.

Wash asparagus, trim ends, and cut in 2 inch lengths. Heat olive oil in a large cast iron skillet until hot (the French say, "let the pan surprise the vegetables.") Add asparagus and about 1/2 tsp kosher salt, saute until cooked through but still firm-textured.

Put cooked vegetables in a bowl and add pepper to taste. Once mostly cooled, add crumbled feta.

The sweetness of the beets, the different sweetnesses of the new potatoes and the asparagus, and the salt of the feta somehow complement each other beautifully, even though this isn't a combination I would have thought of without seeing all the vegetables at the market.

We have been eating a lot of asparagus this spring, usually sauteed in olive oil as it is cooked here. I'm sad that the season is over! I have been in Germany twice in my life, both times during early spring. As a result, one of the few German words I know is Spargel. I mentioned this to a German friend, and she said, "Well, it's an important word!" I couldn't agree more.

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