Summer is full of surprises at the farmer’s market here in Vancouver. We get so much fresh bounty from local farms – plum tomatoes in all shapes & sizes, peas, green beans, cabbage, zucchini, sweet onions, buttery new potatoes, loads of kale and other greens, berries, plums and recently apples.
This surprise element is one of the main reasons I started frequenting the Farmers Market. I used to buy my produce at Whole Foods, but somehow, the availability of everything all the time put me in a cooking rut. I would buy the same produce, and cook the same dishes every week. This was unacceptable for a person who quit her full time job to attend culinary school. I had to challenge myself.
With that thought in mind, I joined the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program earlier this year. As a part of this program, every Wednesday, I receive a box full of local produce that I can pick up at the Farmer’s Market. I had to prepay for six months of boxes and this money helped the local farmers with their farming. Plus, once I had prepaid, there was no backing out of the program! The box was my “mystery box” and I was the contestant on Food Network’s Chopped. The Chef in me was nervous and excited at the same time about what my box for the week was going to look like.
Every Wednesday when I take the Subway to head to the Farmers Market, I feel like I am going on a blind date! I don’t know whether I am going to meet Mr. Couch Potato or something that was going to spice up my life, like Padron Chiles! Regardless of what produce I pick up at the market, every Wednesday gives me a blank canvas, a chance to rediscover the Chef in me!
So this Wednesday I ran into an old friend. Mr. Melon. I have a lot of childhood memories of this old friend. In the sweltering heat of the Indian Summers, Melon was a treat! Me and my little sister would sit on the floor with our slices of Melon and that was our escape from the hot and humid summer. So I picked up a Melon without really knowing what I was going to do with it.
Earlier this year, I briefly worked at a well known French restaurant here in Vancouver where I learned how to make pickled Melon Balls. So I decided to make a classic beet salad with creamy goat cheese and pistachios to pair with the pickled melon balls. Beets are the underdog of summer bounty. It comes in varieties of colors – red, yellow, pink – my favorite is a candy cane, which is striped! This can visually enhance a dish and make it look much more sophisticated without any additional work on the cook’s part.
I love to roast the Beets. This brings out their sweetness and intensifies their earthy flavor. In this dish, the tartness of the pickled melon in white balsamic vinegar cuts through the sweetness of the roast beets.
This salad is summer on a plate! Hope you enjoy it!
Roasted Beetroot & Pickled French Melon Salad
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cover the Beets with aluminum foil and roast them until tender, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove them from the oven and cool the beets. Take the skin off and slice thinly on a mandolin.
Pickled French Melon
1 small French Melon, peeled
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
Use the melon baller to scoop small balls from the french melon. Combine honey, white wine and white balsamic vinegar in a saucepan and bring to simmer. Place the melon balls in a small bowl. Pour the hot pickling liquid over the melon and marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.
Place goat cheese on the plate, arrange the finely sliced beetroots and melon balls around it. Garnish with baby greens and pistachios. Finish with fleur de sel and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.