Planting For Plenty
As summer heat hits like a hammer, it feels out of season to be planning for fall and winter crops, yet this is indeed the time to get those starts in the ground. I’m planting both Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Kosmic Kale, favorite vegetables I cherish for great taste and long performance. Kosmic Kale is an excellent Dutch variety, a perennial kale with lovely, cream-and-sage variegated leaves that remain tender and sweet all year round. Give it full sun or afternoon shade and you’ll be able to harvest a handful of leaves nearly every day. If your household is larger, you’ll want several of these handsome plants; though they mature to around 4-feet high, they are relatively narrow, so you can fit several into even small gardens (like mine).
Arugula needs replacing by now, as does Endive, and starts of both Swiss Chard and Collard Greens will give you a good crop by fall as will annual greens. I just planted Sugar Snap and Sugar Ann peas for a second round, letting them ramble between the branches of my espaliered three-way apple tree that’s tied into our heavy-duty wire fence. It’s also time to tuck in some Kalettes, a gorgeous and delicious cross between kale and Brussels Sprouts that crops well into winter. We eat a lot of Brussels Sprouts around here, especially the red ones that are both beautiful and especially resistant to pesky pests. I’m also looking forward to enjoying Celtuce, a Southern Chinese stem lettuce. Sometimes sold as Asparagus Lettuce or Wosun, this leafy vegetable has long, thick stalks that taste similar to celery. In Asian kitchens, the peeled stalks are eaten raw, pickled, roasted, or used in stir fries, much as you might use asparagus.
Can’t Beat Those Beets
As my early beets are fattening up, we’re eating them almost daily, boiled, roasted, or raw. In my book, few summer treats are as delicious as a raw beet salad lively with spunky sweet onions and the lush sweetness of ripe fruit. Naturally, along with the usual autumn crops I’m planting youngster beets to bring me more bounty this fall. Golden and tender, Boldor keeps its pretty color when cooked, and youngsters taste sweet enough to use raw in salads, grated or sliced thinly and tossed with bitter greens. Sliced crosswise, Chioggia, the classic Italian striped beet, displays concentric circles of red and white that look beautiful on the plate. The pattern is most dramatic on smaller beets, so harvest them when they’re about 2 inches across if you want to wow your friends with a stunning raw salad. Like what? So glad you asked!
Raw Beet & Nectarine Salad
2 cups peeled, thinly sliced Chioggia beets (about 5-6)
2 large nectarines, thinly sliced
2 cups finely sliced Kosmic Kale or chard ribbons
1/2 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts
1/2 cup crumbled soft goat cheese
2 tablespoons minced spearmint
2-3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/8 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
In a serving bowl, combine all ingredients and gently toss. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serves 4-6.
A mandoline cutter slices vegetables into various shapes, including matchstick or julienne, which look dramatic in the bowl and on the plate. You can cut the beets into skinny sticks by hand, of course, but it’s super tedious, so if you don’t have a mandoline, just grate them coarsely with a box grater or a food processor.
Matchstick Raw Beet Salad
3 cups julienned peeled raw beets (2-3 medium)
1 medium WallaWalla Sweet onion, halved and sliced
1-1/2 cups peeled, sliced peaches (1-2 large)
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup Peach Lime Dressing (see below)
Combine all ingredients in a serving bowl, gently toss and let stand 10 minutes. Arrange on plates with matchstick beets in teepees, and serve at room temperature. Serves 4-6.
Summer Peach Lime Dressing
1 large peach, peeled, chopped
2-3 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon avocado oil OR olive oil
pinch smoked hot paprika
In a food processor, combine all ingredients and puree. Adjust seasoning to taste. Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days.
French Beet Salad, Nutty Or Not
Tart apples, tender beets and toasted walnuts give this French late summer salad terrific crunch, while the lemon-and-mustard vinaigrette makes it sparkle. The same dressing is lovely drizzled over chicken or fish as well as bitter and leafy greens or steamed cauliflower. Those who can’t tolerate walnuts can make a different but still very tasty version by substituting olive oil and crisp, roasted pumpkin seeds for the nuts.
French Beet, Apple & Walnut Salad
2-3 cups cooked, diced beets (about 1 pound raw)
2-3 cups sliced tart apples (2-3 large apples)
1 cup lightly toasted whole walnut halves
OR 1 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup stemmed flat Italian parsley
1/4 cup Walnut Lemon Dressing (see below)
In a serving bowl, gently toss beets, apples, and nuts or seeds with the dressing and let stand at least 10 minutes. Serve at room temperature, garnished with parsley. Serves 4-6.
Walnut Oil & Lemon Dressing
Juice of 1 medium lemon
1 tablespoon mellow Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons walnut oil OR olive oil
1/8 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
Few grinds of black pepper
In a jar, combine all ingredients and shake vigorously to emulsify. Adjust seasonings to taste. Refrigerate leftovers for up to three days. Makes about 1/2 cup.