The cashier withdrew the receipt he had been pushing towards me. He skimmed it with a puzzled look on his face, searching for an error. “I guess it’s right. I just didn’t expect your order to cost that much money.”
“Consider it my super power,” I responded, grinning through the sinking feeling.
As I pulled into the driveway, the neighbor boy dangled from a tree, his summer tan nearly camouflaged by the bark of the shady branches. “Where did you go?” he pried.
“To the grocery store,” I responded in the general direction of the tree.
“That’s all you got?” he asked in disbelief.
Debby Downer from the adjacent house probably judged me silently behind a curtain, as I schlepped my “meager” quantity of groceries to my third floor abode. Fortunately, the dog was eager to encounter beef cubes and minty sticks, so she put up little protest to my apparent failure.
I get it! I spend a lot of money on food.
However, with hormones, GMOs, pesticides and God knows what else being injected in our food, it’s hard not to spend excess money on what should be the simple act of eating and feeding those we love. Thus, I justify these expenses as health insurance or better yet, preventative care.
Fortunately, this summer’s ingredients have been boosted by the Urban Farmer’s efforts. Contrary to popular belief, we haven’t been swimming in vegetables, with the majority of the harvest making its way to the CSA members. However, late July and August have been kind to us, especially on the juicy tomato front!
The Urban Farmer and I recently hosted friends on the farm, and that Mint Themed Dinner on the Farm was the first time I had to do very little shopping to prepare a meal for a gathering. Not only was it refreshing to celebrate the farm as a beautiful piece of land with a spectacular view of the downtown skyline, but it was refreshing to celebrate all the farm has produced recently like these exquisite beets…
Each slice into the beets revealed a different fuchsia intensity and pattern worth painterly strokes, but most importantly, roasting revealed a tender, flavorful bite, complemented by smoky sea salt and subtly sweet coconut oil.
Beets, cucumbers, tomatoes and mint- all from the farm- became one colorful, healthy, flavorful, juicy salad to celebrate the farmers, the fruits of their labors and the height of summer. There were very few groceries, and there was no one critiquing my food-buying habits. It was a win-win scenario. Harvest or hop to the farmers’ market, and snag these beauties while the season allows.
Roasted Beet, Cucumber & Mint Salad
About This Recipe: Use your best estimate in gathering beets for this salad. Ours were small to medium, and I just kept cutting until I had a cast-iron’s worth, so the quantity is approximate. This works well as a salad, or as a topper for crostini.
1 bunch of small-medium beets (enough to layer a cast-iron skillet)
2-3 Tablespoons organic melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon Smoked Sea Salt
2-3 small local cucumbers, sliced thin
1 large yellow heirloom tomato, sliced in chunks
1/2-1 cup organic, full-fat Greek yogurt
2-3 Tablespoons chopped fresh mint, plus more for garnish
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Trim off the beet greens (save them for juicing or stock). Peel the beets, and slice them thinly.
Coat a cast-iron skillet with melted coconut oil. Arrange the beets in a single layer (some overlap is ok). Brush the surface of the beets with additional coconut oil. Season with sea salt. Roast for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven, and set aside to cool. Prep the cucumbers, tomatoes and mint in the meantime.
Once the beets have cooled, combine the beets, cucumber slices, tomato chunks and chopped mint in a mixing bowl. Toss gently to combine.
Arrange the salad in a circle, and scoop the Greek yogurt into the center. Garnish with a fresh sprig of mint.
Chill until ready to serve.