A couple of weeks ago, a winter farmers market was held as part of Winterfest in North Adams, Mass. It had around 40 vendors, everything from gluten-free cookie bars to honey to Brussels sprouts stalks, all local. It made me so excited for spring and summer and farmers market season.
Full disclosure: I'm on the North Adams Farmers Market Committee. And we're prepping for an awesome market season right now, with all our usual vendors and some cool new ones. In the meantime, some of us (including me) are working on a cookbook that will be for sale at the market. It'll feature recipes featuring local ingredients, submitted from our farmers and community members. (I'm one of the recipe testers. Yes!)
This recipe is from Sharon Wyrrik of Many Forks Farm in Clarksburg, Mass., who's a staple at the North Adams market. She noted to me that this recipe is an adaptation of many — the kind of old standard you make to your specifications, something easily put together.
Beet salad with nuts an feta
Courtesy of Sharon Wyrrick, Many Forks Farm
"This is one of those recipes that the amounts of the ingredients are very flexible and can be adjusted according to your taste and what you have on hand. I don't have a set recipe that I follow."
Beets (golden beets are especially good in this recipe, but any color beet or a mix of colors works well, too)
Shallots or red onion
Nuts (my favorite is pecans, but walnuts or almonds work, too)
Vinegar (a "fruity" vinegar, like raspberry or cassis helps enhance the sweet aspect of the recipe, but whatever favorite salad dressing vinegar you have on hand is fine)
Maple syrup (from your favorite local syrup operation)
Salt and pepper
In a bowl, thinly slice shallots and/or red onion. Separate the rings. Cover them with olive oil, a few drops of vinegar, a glurp of maple syrup, and salt and pepper. Let them marinate while the beets are cooking, or longer.
Steam beets whole, or cut in half or fourths if they are large. Pay close attention that you get them just tender to a fork, not letting them get overdone or mushy. This usually takes 20-30 minutes depending on the size of your beets.
Drain the cooked beets and then run them under cold water for a moment and pop the skins off. Cube the beets into ½ - 1" chunks into your serving bowl.
Toast nuts on a baking sheet at low temperature in the oven, 275-300 degrees, watching carefully so they don't burn. Take the pan out and shake the nuts around several times during the process to help them toast more evenly.
Pour the shallot/onion mixture over the beets and mix to coat. Cube or crumble your feta over this. Add the nuts, breaking them up a bit or chopping — not too small so as to preserve their crunch in the mix of textures. Give it one last gentle mixing. Adjust your seasonings (maple syrup, vinegar, salt, pepper) and add more olive oil if needed.
Serve at room temperature. Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator, but allow to come to room temperature for best flavor.