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Cooking for Friends/ Rick’s Fish Soup

“…Pearlescent black mussels, earthy gray-brown clams, and delicate pink shrimp all look beautiful floating in a fragrant broth redolent of the sea.” Cucina Rustica

Mussels

Who would not want to make this soup?

“Cooking for friends” is one of the best ingredients for any recipe. It’s right up there with love and joy, and a good way to insure plenty of the latter ingredients. While we were in Paris, Rick’s dear friends Marie and Jean-Charles came to visit, and Rick embarked upon a cooking odyssey. It was an all-day event that involved more than one trip to the market, improvisation, several bottles of wine, and much love and joy–especially on the part of  who got to eat Rick’s fish soup.

Vegetables at Paris Market

Luckily for Rick, the outdoor market fell on the day of his extravaganza. The Bastille Market is renowned even among the Paris markets, and stretches from the neighborhood of our apartment all the way to the Bastille, half a mile away. The fishmongers’ stalls are extraordinary, with fish so fresh they seem to have just jumped off the boat. Six-foot eels wind their way around the piles of seafood, and giant fish with giant eyeballs stare at you from their beds of ice. Rick went early and chose cod, snapper, scallops, and shrimp. He filled his shopping bag with onions, potatoes, red and green peppers, tomatoes, and a bundle of fresh thyme and set off for the kitchen.

Paris Fish Market

Rick’s cooking brought to mind the musings of Michael Pollan in his book about making food, titled Cooked. He wrote, “Time is the missing ingredient in our recipes–and in our lives.” Rick didn’t need to spend all day cooking to make this stew, but he did. There is something very wonderful about spending a day in the kitchen cooking for friends and infusing ingredients with love and joy. Another thought from Pollan: “Great cooking is all about the three “P’s”: patience, presence, and practice.” Rick used all three.

Rick’s Fish Soup

Fish Soup

Rick’s fish soup was very much in the spirit of using the catch of the day. He chose ingredients that called to him at the market, took them home, and turned them into a wonderful stew. Fish stew lends itself to a gathering of friends because it is best made in a wide, generous pot that allows the precious seafood to poach gently in the broth at the very end of cooking. Rick made enough for six, well-satisfied people.

Ingredients: 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 finely chopped yellow onion, 1 tsp anchovy paste or 3 or 4 anchovy fillets, 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves (added in stages), 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 diced red bell pepper, 1 diced green bell pepper, 1 1/2 cups diced smooth-skinned potato, 1 1/2 to 2 cups dry white wine (Rick used Muscadet), 2 diced medium tomatoes (or 1cup canned plum tomatoes with juice), 1 lb. cod fillet (Rick chooses the thicker “Captain’s cut”), 1 lb. snapper fillet, 1/2 lb. scallops, 1/2 lb.peeled shrimp, 1 cup heavy cream, 4 Tbs chopped flat-leaf parsley, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, pimente d’espelette or red chile flakes (or, if you are lucky enough to have some, smoky Hungarian paprika)

Warm the olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven. Stir in the onion and sauté 8 to 10 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the anchovy paste or chopped anchovy fillets (here’s where Rick had to use a handful chopped oil-cured black olives to get the briny flavor he wanted because in the Paris markets, anchovy paste n’existe pas) and stir until they meld with the onions. Stir in 1 tsp thyme leaves and the garlic; continue cooking 1 to 2 minutes. Add the peppers and potato; stir a few minutes longer and add the wine. Let the wine simmer for a few minutes and add the tomatoes and their juice. Add water or broth if more liquid is needed to barely cover the vegetables. Cook at a low, steady simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Season with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and the rest of the thyme. Cover and reduce the heat to very low. You can turn off the heat and go out to the market for more wine at this point, if you like.

Bring the soup back to a simmer and add the scallops and shrimp (being denser, they take slightly longer to cook, so are added first). Cover and cook 3 minutes. Cut the fish into 1-inch cubes or slices and season lightly with sea salt. Carefully add the fish pieces without stirring. Cover and cook about 3 minutes more. Stir in the cream and a pinch or two pimente d’espelette or smoky Spanish or Hungarian paprika.ungarian paprikapppap Sprinkle the soup with parsley and serve with a loaf or two of crusty bread and a few bottles of cherished wine.

More Fish Soup

More Fish Soup

Rick’s masterpiece inspired me to make a fish stew to share with friends when we returned home. The origin of fish soups from Italian brodetto to French bouillabaisse lies in the answer to the question, “What do I do with all the little fish left in the net after I’ve sold all the big fish?” Traditional recipes call for fish stock made with fish heads and bones, as well as a dozen or more varieties of fish and shellfish for the stew, all contributing to the many-layered flavor of the finished soup. Unshelled shrimp, mussels, and clams and very small whole fish make the most flavorful broth.

Alas, most of us don’t live in fishing villages and have a much more limited choice of fish. But, after sampling Rick’s wonderful soup, I knew I didn’t need an ocean of fish to make a tasty stew. I went fishing at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods; then I went fishing for recipes to match my catch. I turned to a recipe from John Ash, originally printed in Fine Cooking magazine, for turning chicken stock into a flavorful broth using shrimp shells. The stock is used to make broth for his version of Cioppino, a San Francisco-style fish soup.

Faux Fish Stock

Fish Stock

Ingredients: 1 lb. large shrimp, 6 cups homemade or low salt canned chicken broth

Peel the shrimp, reserving the shells. Refrigerate the shelled shrimp to add to the soup later. Simmer the shells in chicken broth for 5 to 10 minutes, covered. Strain and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

I was able to test this recipe using trout heads from the giant trout lurking in our pond, known as “Troutzilla”. I simmered trout heads with chopped onion, carrot, celery and garlic in homemade chicken broth for about 15 minutes. Then I threw in a handful of dried bonito flakes for extra umami and let the broth steep another 5 minutes before straining.

Celebration Fish Stew

Fish at the Market

I adapted two recipes for my celebration fish stew dinner party. I knew the fish would need the help of Ash’s brightly flavored Cioppino broth and I also liked the looks of a Tunisian fish soup in Ottolenghi’s cookbook, Jerusalem, which would let me use my beautiful fennel bulbs and preserved lemon. Ginny and Danny brought fresh Carolina shrimp to provide “redolence of the sea.”

Cioppino Broth: 1/4 cup olive oil, 3 cups coarsely chopped yellow onion, 2/3 cup coarsely chopped celery or fennel, 1 cup coarsely chopped carrot, 3 Tbs chopped garlic, 3 cups canned tomatoes with juices, 2 1/2 cups dry red or white wine (Ash uses Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese…I used Pinot Grigio), 6 cups faux fish stock, 3 large bay leaves, 3 sprigs fresh thyme, 2 tsp. crushed fennel seeds, 1/2 tsp red chile flakes, Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In the olive oil in an 8-quart or larger pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery or fennel, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are lightly browned, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices, wine, shellfish stock, bay leaves, thyme, fennel seeds, chile flakes, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat and maintain a low simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes.

Strain the broth, pressing the solids to extract all the liquid. Discard the solids and return the broth to the pot. Boil until reduced to 8 cups. Taste and adjust the seasonings. This broth may be made ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen.

The Stew: 2 Tbs olive oil, 4 thinly sliced garlic cloves. 1 large waxy potato (6 to 8 oz), 2 medium fennel bulbs (about 12 oz), 1/2 preserved lemon, 1 Tbs sweet paprika, 2 cups diced tomatoes, 1 lb scrubbed clams*, 1 lb scrubbed mussels*, 2 1/2 lbs fillets of firm-fleshed white fish–halibut, flounder, sea bass, monkfish, etc, 1 lb peeled shrimp, 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves, 2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon

*Use whatever fresh seafood is available.

Note: Adding more vegetables is optional. You can and go straight to cooking the seafood in the prepared broth, if you like. Cut the potato into 2/3-inch cubes. Trim the fennel bulbs and cut into very thin wedges. Warm the olive oil in a wide sauté pan or large Dutch oven over medium heat. Stir in the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the potato, fennel, and chopped preserved lemon and cook 4 or 5 minutes. Add the strained broth, bring to a simmer, then cover and cook over low heat 12 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are barely tender. Add the tomatoes and paprika and simmer 4 to 5 minutes more.

Now cook the seafood. Add the scrubbed clams to the simmering broth and cook until they open, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the mussels and cook another 2 to 3 minutes. When all the shellfish have opened, add the fish and shrimp, trying not to break the pieces. Cover, and cook 3 to 5 minutes, until barely cooked through. The fish will continue to cook in the hot broth until served. Garnish with chopped parsley and tarragon. Serve with couscous or crusty bread o sop up the broth.

Vegetables at Market

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Joie de Vivre and Thanksgiving

Last summer, when I couldn’t cook, words I read in Su Mei Yu’s book, Cracking the Coconut, took on new meaning. She gives insight into the cooking of Thailand by explaining that “the Thai people are Buddhists who believe that life is marked by suffering, impermanence, and constant change. They seek and grasp at every chance to celebrate pleasure and happiness. Good food and the community spirits of sharing reflect this philosophy.”

The Thai philosophy of food can be summed up in two words, according to Yu: arroy, meaning delicious as well as “touching one’s heart”, and sanuk, meaning fun and spiritual joie de vivre. Sounds like they celebrate Thanksgiving every day.

We were in need of an infusion of joie de vivre, so we went with friends Joe and Suzy to France. As we traveled south into the Dordogne, I knew immediately that we were in the land of arroy and sanuk, as well as joie de vivre. This is a region of rich river valleys blessed with a temperate climate, ample sun and rain, and a coastline on the Atlantic Ocean. Contented cows and sheep dot deep green pastures, fields of vegetables and fruit and nut orchards thrive, and the wine is legendary. This is a land where almost every village gives it’s name to a kind of cheese, wine, or sausage–all you need to do is pop into the village baker, and you have a feast.

French Landscape

French Door

Our first stop was in Villaines les Rochers, a village of willow basket makers. We were the guests of David and Judy, who make their home in one of the cave houses common to the area. These houses are dug into the soft rock in the bluffs above the river to create a unique space that is open to light yet insulated from both the heat of summer and the cold of winter. The sun-facing rock wall has the added advantage of creating a superb microclimate for tomatoes and peppers and plants like grapevines and figs (even better, you can climb up on the roof and pick the figs!). David and Judy tend a garden that produces some of the most beautiful and delicious vegetables I have ever seen or tasted.

French Tomato Plate

One of the great things about being a traveler welcomed into someone’s home is that they know the flavors of their home terroir and want to share the best food possible. Our hosts gathered sun-ripened tomatoes and herbs from the garden, goat cheese from the near-by town of St. Maure, figs from the tree outside their door, mackerel from the Atlantic, and wine from a small neighboring vineyard to make a welcoming meal full of joie de vivre.

As you will see, this is not fussy cooking–not the image of the French chef. This is wonderful food staight from the earth and the sea, shared with good friends, and remembered forever with gratitude.

Appetizer of Goat Cheese and Figs

French Fig

Cut ripe, fresh figs in half and arrange on a baking pan. Place a 1/4-inch slice of goat cheese (Judy prefers the ash-coated Chevre de St. Maure) on top of each fig. Broil until the figs are softened and the cheese bubbles. Voila!

David’s Tomato Salad

French Tomato

David and Judy grow sweet, richly flavored heirloom tomatoes–Zebra and Corno-de- something, as well as the hybrid “Sungold” cherry tomato. Red, green, and gold create a spectacular mosaic of flavor and color. This is David’s speciality.

Arrange slices of red, green, and yellow tomatoes in a pleasing pattern on a large platter. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper, finely chopped red onion, and fresh basil leaves. Drizzle fruity olive oil over the top. Enjoy!

Grilled Mackerel

We bought whole, fresh mackerel at the local grocery store (cleaned as we waited), and David prepared it for the grill, using fresh herbs from the garden.

Rub the mackerel with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and coat with finely chopped sage and rosemary leaves. Tuck a sprig of rosemary and a few sage leaves into the cavity of each fish and set aside in the fridge while you prepare the grill fire. Grill over medium heat until cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Bon apetit!

Serve with a salad of lettuce and gorgeous red radicchio.

Elemental Cooking

Swedish Cabin

Our Swedish travels took us very far north, into Sammi land, to visit with Jogge and Nina at their summer cabin. The small town of Overkalix is not far from the Arctic Circle, a land of cold rivers fed by snowmelt from the mountains, many lakes, and forest. Nina and Jogge’s cabin is reached by ferryboat, and then a 10-minute boat ride to a small landing beach. The lake was once a river flowing through the forest…tannin-dark and ringed with marshland. This part of Sweden is home to moose and reindeer, salmon swimming from the sea upriver, moss and lichen-covered rocks, and many trees twisted from winter wind and ice. The landscape is elemental and spare, and filled with deep silence.

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Jogge warned us, “It is very rustic…no electricity, no running water, no road…” But we are prepared. We lived this way for six years in the Boomer Bill cabin. Cooking here is like the landscape– elemental and spare. There is a direct connection with earth, fire, and water.

IMG_1749

We caught small fish from the lake. Jogge salted them and put them in the cold storage pit under the house until we were ready to cook them over an open fire. We scraped the blackened skin off and pulled the sweet white fish off the bones on to thin toasted flatbread. That’s it. What more do you need?

Cooking with Fire

Freshly caught lake fish and an open fire are not always at hand. Later on our trip, Beth and Annalie showed us how to make delicious roasted fish in the oven or over hot coals in an outdoor grill. Place a thick fillet of mild white fish (Beth used cod) in the center of a large rhubarb leaf. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cover with thin rhubarb stalks. Wrap the leaf snugly around the fish and tie it to make a package. Roast the fish in the oven at 375 degrees F. for 15 to 20 minutes (depending on thickness), or on a grate or metal pan over indirect heat in a covered charcoal grill. I used the same method for whole trout at home. The rhubarb leaf is not edible, but it imparts an earthy, lemony flavor to the fish. The roasted rhubarb stalks are superb.

Whole Trout stuffed with Herbs

Whole Trout

When frost comes, foil takes the place of rhubarb leaves, and lemon stands in for the rhubarb stalks. Herbs enhance the delicate flavor of trout, and the results are aromatic and juicy. Our end-of-season trout are quite large and perfect for baking. If you are using smaller trout, make a separate package for each one.

Ingredients: whole, cleaned trout(s), extra virgin olive oil, salt, freshly ground black pepper, 2 lemons, thinly sliced garlic cloves, sprigs of fresh rosemary, parsley, mint, fennel, and/or thyme, dry white wine, and aluminum foil

Place the trout on a square of aluminum foil that is large enough to fold and seal into a package. Rub the inside and outside of the fish with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with lemon juice inside and out. Place the garlic slices and herb sprigs into the cavity of the trout. Close the trout and place thin slices of lemon on top. Drizzle 1 or 2 Tbs white wine over the fish and fold the foil closed so that no liquid can escape. Place the foil wrapped fish on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees F. for about 10 minutes per inch of thickness of fish. A large trout takes about 20 minutes; the flesh should be just opaque. Transfer the fish and all the juices to a platter.

This is especially good served with crusty bread for dipping and a bright green herb pesto: Finely chop a handful Italian flat-leaf parsley, a few fresh mint leaves, a little fresh thyme, and 2 garlic cloves. Add a big pinch sea salt and 4 Tbs toasted walnuts or pine nuts. Continue by hand or with a mortar and pestle to make a rough paste. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and add extra virgin olive oil to the desired consistency.

Trout with Bread

Another night at Overkalix we had a feast of reindeer meat and vegetables seasoned with wood smoke from the fire. Our appetizer was baby chanterelles sautéed in butter on toast.

Mushrooms with Bread

Jogge’s Reindeer Stroganoff

Ingredients: 1 lb. reindeer or venison tenderloin, 1 onion. 2 garlic cloves, 5 or 6 crushed juniper berries, 1 or 2 minced fresh hot chiles, 8 oz. sliced fresh button mushrooms, 1 cup thick Turkish or Greek yogurt

Cut the meat into very thin slices and season it with salt and black pepper. Warm 2 Tbs olive oil in a large skillet with 1 finely chopped onion. Sauté the onion over medium high heat until softened, 5 or 6 minutes. Add the finely chopped garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add the meat, chile, and juniper berries. Sauté 2 or 3 minutes. Transfer to a warm plate. Add 1 1/2 Tbs oil to the hot pan and sauté the mushrooms 5 or 6 minutes. Add the meat back into the skillet and toss with the mushrooms. Reduce the heat, add the yogurt, and stir until warm through. Serve

I made a version of this meal with tenderloin of “wild” goat (an escapee that lived in the forest for four months) and fresh shitake mushrooms. I followed Jogge’s method, briefly searing the thinly sliced meat with onion, chile, juniper berries, and garlic. I sautéed the sliced mushrooms separately, tossed the two together, and we ate it wrapped in fresh tortillas…with yogurt sauce and salsa.

Beth and Annalie’s Yogurt Sauce

Stir together 1 cup thick Greek-style, Bulgarian, or Russian whole milk yogurt with 1/2 tsp freshly toasted and ground cumin seed, 2 tsp minced garlic, a pinch of salt, and 4 Tbs chopped fresh herbs (mint, parsley, cilantro, lemon balm, chives…).

Cooking in the Land of the Midnight Sun: Nina’s Welcome Dinner

Sweden

We arrived in Sweden shortly after Midsummer’s Eve, when all of Sweden celebrates the long hours of daylight. Actually, they seem to celebrate all summer long, and why not? We were welcomed to Nina and Jogge’s lovingly restored home on an old farmstead in the north of Sweden at the endless end of a perfect sunny day. Nina’s welcome dinner was a pure Swedish Summer meal and a celebration of local and seasonal food, served out-of-doors in the bright sunlight of early evening. The table was an array of colors: a big fat pink salmon, golden yellow new potatoes, deep red beets, a green salad of young lettuce… and fresh strawberries and ice cream for dessert, followed by strong black coffee.

Nina and Louise

Nina’s menu reflected the best offerings of the early summer farmers’ markets in Sweden. The first of the local harvest is so fresh it glows. When I recreated her meal back in North Carolina, I went to the garden and dug “yellow finn” fingerling potatoes and pulled a bunch of young beets. I didn’t have a big fat salmon, so I baked a big fat trout that Drew caught in the pond.

Swedish Flowers

 Salmon Roasted with Blue Cheese 

Nina prepared a whole boned salmon fillet, 2 to 3 pounds. She made cuts through the flesh down to the skin every two inches or so and filled the cuts with blue cheese (she said it was “green cheese”–a local specialty). She roasted this beautiful fish in a hot oven, along with the potatoes and beets.

Oven roasting method: Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. In a small saucepan, melt 4 Tbs butter. Add 4 Tbs olive oil, 1/3 cup white wine or dry sherry and 2 Tbs fresh lemon juice. Warm gently. Pour 1/2 the mixture into a shallow baking dish just large enough to hold the salmon. Lay the salmon in skin side down and sprinkle with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pour the remaining butter-lemon mixture over the top. Sprinkle with 3 or 4 tsp finely chopped fresh tarragon, parsley, fennel fronds, or thyme. Cover the pan with foil and roast 10 to 12 minutes. Check the thickest part of the fish for doneness–it should be slightly translucent in the middle. If it needs more cooking, remove the foil and return the pan to the oven for a few more minutes. Transfer the salmon to a platter and spoon the pan juices over the top. Or, as Nina did, mix the juices with crème fraiche to make a sauce.

Grilled or Sear-Roasted Salmon Fillets 

When you don’t have a whole fish or side of salmon, these are simple, quick, and delicious ways to cook fillets or steaks:

Prepare a charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill. Choose center cut salmon steaks or thick fillets with skin on. Rub the fillets with olive oil and season lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Grill the salmon directly over medium-high heat, 2 1/2 to 3 minutes per side, until just cooked through.

To sear-roast, heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Heat 2 Tbs olive oil in an ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.  When the oil is shimmering hot, place the salmon fillets in the pan skin side up. Sear for 2 minutes, without moving. When the fillets are nicely browned, flip them over and transfer the pan to the oven. Roast until barely cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes.

Lovely Toppings for Salmon

CornGrilled Corn Salsa-Salad: You will need 2 or 3 ears of unhusked sweet corn, 1 medium red onion cut into 1/3-inch slices, and 1 large red bell pepper.  Rub the onion slices with olive oil and grill the corn and onions over medium heat until beginning to brown, 6 to 10 minutes. Grill the pepper until charred all over, 10 to 12 minutes. Cover the pepper with a cloth while it cools to make it easier to peel. While the vegetables cool, make a dressing: mash 1 garlic clove with 1/4 tsp salt to make a paste, add 1 Tbs fresh lime juice, 1 1/2 tsp cider vinegar, 1 minced jalapeno or serrano chile, and 3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil. Cut the corn from the cob and chop the onion.  Peel, seed, and chop the pepper. Put the vegetables in a bowl and add 1 Tbs chopped fresh oregano and 4 Tbs chopped cilantro or parsley. Toss with the dressing; add salt and pepper to taste.

Fresh Plum or Peach Salsa: In a bowl, toss 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion and 4 finely chopped tomatillos with 2 Tbs fresh lime juice and 1/2 tsp coarse kosher or sea salt. Let sit 30 minutes. Add about 2 cups diced firm plums or peaches, 1 or 2 finely chopped jalapeno or other hot chile, and 1 Tbs each chopped basil, mint, and cilantro. Toss and add more lime juice if needed.

Red Pepper Relish: Heat 1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil in a skillet with 2/3 cup finely chopped sweet or red onion and 1 cup finely diced sweet red pepper. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and sauté 2 or 3 minutes. Stir in 2 tsp minced garlic and a pinch (or more) red chile flakes.  Add 1 tsp red wine vinegar and 2 Tbs balsamic vinegar; cook another minute. Transfer to a bowl and stir in 1/2 tsp freshly toasted and crushed cumin seed.

Fennel Salsa: Remove the tough outer leaves from one small fennel bulb; quarter and slice the bulb 1/4-inch thick to make about 1 1/2 cups. Sauté the fennel in 1 1/2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil until tender-crisp, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and combine with 1/2 cup diced celery and 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion. Toss with 2 Tbs fresh lemon juice, 1/4 tsp crushed fennel seed, 1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme, 1/4 tsp red chile flakes, and 1/2 cup finely chopped fennel greens. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Roasted New Potatoes 

Fingerling Potatoes

Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Wash and dry 2 pounds smooth-skinned yellow potatoes (German Butterball, Yellow Finn, Russian Banana, Yukon Gold…) Use whole small potatoes or cut larger potatoes in halves or quarters. Toss with 3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil to coat well. Place on a large roasting pan and sprinkle with 1/2 to 1 tsp coarse sea or kosher salt. Roast the potatoes about 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, until tender inside and golden-crispy outside.

Roasted Beets

Beets will take almost the same cooking time as the potatoes in a 425 degree F oven. Wash, trim and peel 1 pound beets (about 6 to 8 medium beets). Cut them into 1-inch wedges and toss with 2 to 3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil. Arrange in a single layer in a baking dish and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp coarse kosher or sea salt. Roast the beets 15 minutes, flip over, and continue roasting until tender, another 20 minutes. Nina put rounds of goat cheese in with her beets to get toasted and soft during the last minutes of roasting.

I like to combine roasted beets with thinly sliced red onion, quartered cherry tomatoes, and chopped fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, chives…) and toss with a with a balsamic-citrus dressing: Whisk together 4 Tbs fresh orange juice, 1 Tbs balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp fresh lemon juice or wine vinegar, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1 Tbs walnut oil. Drizzle over the roasted beets and top with toasted walnuts.