Up until recently, salad has always been a side dish thing. Growing up, most of our meals were centered around a meat or protein. It was only once I moved to the states, and we started cutting right back on our meat, that we began having a salad as a whole meal. It's such a great way to use up things that are in the fridge, and you can change it up depending on whatever you have on hand. I do tend to find myself re-making the same things over and over though. A Salad rut, if you will.
Until this summer. This is the summer that we will eat EPIC salads. I know this, because i've had three of them in the last week alone. Salads that make you dribble a little bit when you taste the dressing. Substantial enough to make a whole meal, and so delicious that Rich finishes off the rest, regardless of the fact that there's enough for 5 people.
My salad game has been changed by my lovely friend Hetty's new book, Neighborhood. It has been out in Australia for a while, but she just released it into the American world yesterday! I first met Hetty at an event last year, and was instantly drawn in by her bubbly personality and ability to tell it exactly how it is. I was drawn in again by quite possibly the best cauliflower dish I have ever eaten in my life. Her book is an extension of that - it is packed full of beautiful salads, with flavour combinations you had no idea you needed in your life until you try them for the first time. It coincides perfectly with the start of CSA season, and the arrival of beautiful spring and summer vegetables at the farmer's market. It is perfect in the sense that you can look in your vegetable drawer, flick through the book, and you will likely find a simple, delicious recipe that uses what you have. The recipes are flexible and adaptable, and all of them look incredible. I have already made 3 recipes from it, and all of them have been insane. I just ordered a copy for my Mum, because I know she is going to love it just as much as I do. Do yourself a favor and grab yourself a copy - your summer meal plans are about to be taken up a notch. Congrats, Hetty! This book is nothing short of magic.
I had a really hard time deciding what to make from the book - until the words 'brown butter' and 'crispy sage' caught my eye. The salad I went with is farro based, with roast beets and quickly sauteed asparagus. It is then topped off with crispy sage leaves, and a brown butter lemon dressing that is quite possibly one of the best things I have ever tasted. It's filling enough that you can have it by itself as a meal, or it would make the perfect accompaniment to a summer BBQ or weeknight dinner.
ALSO - I am giving away a copy of Hetty's book! All you have to do is leave a comment down below with your favourite salad combination. Competition closes on the 7th of July at 8pm EST. Open to US residents only.
Asparagus and beet salad with farro, crispy sage, and lemon brown butter
- Serves 4 to 6 -
Reprinted with permission from Neighborhood. Copyright 2016 by Hetty Mckinnon. Published by Roost books.
2 cups (350g) farro, rinsed
1 garlic clove, crushed
4 large golden beets, about 2lb / 1kg, peeled and cut into thin wedges (I used a mix of red and golden)
3-4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb (400g) asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup microgreen sprouts (optional)
1 cup walnuts, toasted
Sea salt and Black pepper
Lemon brown butter dressing
1/2 cup (1 stick / 120g) unsalted butter
1/2 cup fresh sage leaves
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 small garlic clove, minced
3/4 tsp dijon mustard
1 teaspoon maple syrup
- PROCESS -
Preheat the oven to 400˚f / 200˚c.
Add the Farro and crushed garlic to a saucepan of boiling salted water and cook for 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain.
Place the beets on a large baking tray, drizzle over 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil, and season with salt. Roast for 25-30 minutes until tender.
Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the asparagus and cook for 1 1/2 - 2 minutes until just tender but still bright green in colour.
To make the lemon brown butter, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the sage leaves and swirl around in the butter until they begin to crisp, then remove them from the pan, sprinkle over a little salt, and leave to drain on absorbent paper towels. Continue to heat the butter until it is browned and smells nutty, then remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Carefully whisk in the lemon juice, garlic, mustard, and maple syrup and add a pinch of salt.
Combine the farro, beets, and asparagus, drizzle over a little olive oil, and season well with salt and pepper. Arrange on a large serving dish and spoon over the lemon brown butter. To serve, scatter over the sprouts, if you like, and the crispy sage leaves and walnuts.