All days of the week are not created equal. Especially in summer. Saturday and Sunday have their obvious merits, and nobody can disagree that making it to 5:00 pm on a Friday shouldn’t somehow be celebrated. But one of my favorite days of the week is CSA day. That’s the day we pick up fresh produce from Cherry Grove Organic Farm, a local community-supported agricultural farm outside of Princeton, NJ.
I’m not working this summer which makes CSA pick-up day even better. Instead of flying out of the office and sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the Turnpike to get to the farm before gates close at 7:00 pm, I have the luxury of picking up the girls in the afternoon from daycare and taking them with me. They love it and I love that they love it. It’s a love fest, which somehow is just what the produce deserves.
This week it was HOT at the farm, but the goodies we brought home now have me planning menus days in advance. Our five-year-old even asked to make a salad and came up with a dressing recipe that included sugar, salt, and jalapeños. Hmmm. We’ll have to work on the proportions, but I applaud the creativity! She later confessed that she wanted to make the salad for me and her dad…but then I put together a little something that she and her little sister agreed to try, with predictably mixed results. My husband and I, however, endorse this one!
3 roasted beets, peeled and cubed (to roast, rub with olive oil and roast in tightly-sealed tinfoil with some thyme sprigs at 400 degrees for one hour)
1 cucumber, peeled and cubed
About 4 ounces of feta cheese, cubed (add more if you like feta)
1 cup walnuts, toasted on the stove top in a frying pan until fragrant, cooled and then roughly chopped
Small bunch of fresh arugula
For dressing (with homage to Jamie Oliver’s Honey & lemon juice dressing…it seemed just right when I searched on lemon/olive oil/honey…gotta love Kismet):
1 ounce fresh lemon juice from 1/2 lemon
2 ounces olive oil
1-2 teaspoons honey or to taste
Whisk together all dressing ingredients until well combined. Set aside.
Combine the beets, cucumber, feta and walnuts and toss with enough dressing to flavor. You may have a little dressing left over…I did. Won’t go to waste.
Place several (5 or 6) arugula leaves on each serving plate and mound salad on top. Finish with additional sprinkle of salt and freshly-ground pepper.
I served this with pulled chicken sandwiches made from the left-over hickory-smoked chicken thighs and breasts earlier this week. But that, my friends, is a post for another day!
Serves 8 as a side, or 4 as a main dish.
Parent rating: four stars. I would have given it at least four-and-a-half stars if the beets didn’t bleed so much after combining the salad. An elegant presentation, but leftovers looked a little pink…which, if you’re a five-year-old little girl, might not be that bad!
Kid rating: three stars. Beets were downright vetoed by both girls, leading to a squishing episode that we won’t discuss further. Daughter 1 ate all the cucumber and feta and TRIED the beets. Daughter 2 ate cucumber and walnuts, thought the feta was an unknown veggie and rejected it, and squished the beets. Enough said.