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This week's French Garden recipe

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People who know me would tell you that it's hard to tell which I like more: gardening or cooking. I'd say it depends on which I'm doing at the moment. Anyway, French cooking and French gardening go hand in hand. For me, cooking is an on-going adventure. Join me here on my culinary explorations, where I share with you both my old favorites as well as new inspirations. It's my fondest wish that these recipes serve as a springboard for your own new creations.


11/24/2013

Winter beet salad for Ayfer (Salade de bêtteraves d'hiver pour Ayfer)

  Clay pot 

Ingredients:

Beet salad for Ayfer

To serve 4:

2-3 medium large beets, from your garden or farmers' market.  Best varieties:  crapaudine, Bull's Blood, Burpee's Golden, or use a mixture

2-3 (depending on their size) fresh bulb onions (not scallions)

1-2 T. Best quality pomegranate molasses (the tart kind)*

2-4 T. Extra virgin olive oil*

1/3c. Walnuts, toasted in a heavy skillet over very low heat until fragrant

2-3 T. Finely chopped fresh tarragon

Several sprigs fresh chervil, optional

1/3 c. Fresh pomegranate seeds

sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and pinches of turkish or Aleppo red pepper

*Vary according to the size of your beets.

Bake the beets in a diable or other clay pot with a lid, sprinkled with coarse salt, at 400 F until tender (45 minutes - 1 hour).  If you don't have a clay pot, just put them in a baking dish, sprinkle with a bit of coarse sea Salt, cover with foil and proceed as above.

when the beets are tender and cool enough to handle, slip off their skins with you fingers.  Cut them in half, each half in half again or thirds, then slice 1/4 inch thick.  Slide them into a serving bowl.

add the pomegranate molasses, the oil, seasonings, onions, herbs, and use your fingers to crumble in the walnuts (this technique releases more flavor from the walnuts by bruising them),  toss gently but thoroughly.  If you have fresh chervil, use your fingers to pick off the pretty ferny leaflets to shower over the salad.  Serve immediately or let stand at room temperature an hour or so before.

note:  I love beet salads and am always looking for new ones to serve in place of our delicious but constant mixed garden greens.  Plus, beets grow so well in both my gardens that it's a challenge to eat them all before spring.  I created this salad with my dear Turkish friend, Ayfer Unsal, in mind.  It uses walnuts, pomegranate, and red pepper, all Turkish seasonings.  But most Ayfer-ish is the tarragon.  She is crazy about it's flavor.  When Ayfer visited me in Provence, she took a piece of my tarragon plant home with her and installed it on her terrace in Istanbul.  Periodically she gives me updates about how her "tarragon baby" is doing.

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