Blueberry, Beet and Feta Salad

The other week I headed out for the farmer's market at Copley Square, my camera tucked in my backpack.  It was one of those days when merely stepping outside resulted in sweat-drenched clothes, but for some psychotic reason I decided to walk there.  The path from my apartment in South Boston to the market takes you through an array of neighborhoods and scenery.  Every time I do this walk, I see a detail of the city that I'd never noticed before.  It could be a mural on the side of a building or a hidden park down a side street.

The shaded kiosks at the market provided enough protection to make it a pleasant trip.  I strolled around for a while, poking into each tent to marvel at the gorgeous produce.  I couldn't help but touch everything.  This is what carrots are supposed to look like!  And aren't these beets stunning?  My fellow patrons look over at me, laughing and nodding in agreement.   There was no way I was going home without a few ingredients.

Is it weird that the thing I enjoy preparing most are salads?  Even as a teenager, there was nothing that excited me more than chopping veggies and whisking together a vinaigrette.  This is how I started to learn how to cook, and I guess it's why it's stuck with me all these years.

The true pleasure in eating salad is that often the ingredients are left unaltered or cooked in a way that lets their natural flavors shine.  This blueberry, beet, and feta salad wasn't exactly what I had in mind when I got started on developing this dish.  Honestly, I'm not sure what my vision was.  I was hoping for something leafy, but when the bowl developed and I saw how striking the colors were and that the flavors and textures were layered, I knew this was something that needed to be shared.


Blueberry, Beet and Feta Salad


1 bunch (6 or 7) small golden beets 1 pint (2 cups) blueberries 1/2 cup feta 3 basil leaves, chiffonade 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 2 teaspoons lemon juice 3/4 teaspoon lemon zest Salt and pepper, to taste Honey


1. Put the beets to a pot of water and bring to a boil.  They are finished cooking when a sharp knife goes into one easily. Run cold water over the beets and let sit until cool enough to handle.  Once they have cooled enough, they can be peeled.

2. Quarter the beets (or cut smaller if the beets are larger) and transfer to a bowl.  Add the blueberries and feta to the bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, and lemon zest.  Pour over the salad and toss to combine.

4. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle basil on top. Drizzle a little honey on top and serve.


Caesar Salad with Avocado Dressing and A Cookbook Giveaway

It's hard to believe that it was almost a year ago that I met Gaby for the first time.  The introduction occurred at the Big Summer Potluck last July but it was in the car ride there that Lisa first mentioned her name.

"Who are you rooming with?" I asked her.

"Her name is Gaby, pronounced GOB-ee not GAB-ee. She's a blogger from LA."

"Do you know anything else about her?"


"Well, hopefully she's not a weirdo!"

Ok... I may have made up that last line. If I didn't say it out loud, I was definitely thinking it.  But as I got acquainted with Gaby, I quickly learned that she wasn't a wacko.  In fact, she was immediately welcoming and completely open and honest (even going so far as to express her love for colonics.  Sorry Gaby, I had to say it). We spent hours drinking wine together in the hotel room that night. Instant bonding.

I also got to hear about the book she was working on about avocados. Now, I must admit that I rarely purchase cookbooks that focus on a single ingredient. But, hell, who doesn't like avocados? They're damn expensive here in the Northeast and this makes me even more jealous of the plentiful supply of beautiful (and cheap!!!) avocados that West Coasters get to enjoy.   Then again we do have $4 lobsters here, so I guess I can't complain too much.

Back to Gaby. Well, what else is there to say except that I adore her.  She's kind-hearted and incredibly talented and I'm honored to call her my friend.  We spent this last weekend together... she picked me up at LAX when I was there for The Big Traveling Potluck and rushed us off to her favorite restaurant for lunch, followed by a fun-filled car ride to the event. Let's just say that I almost peed myself because I was laughing so hard.

Anyway, the book is out and I recommend that everyone orders it right away... especially if they want to get it in time for Cinco de Mayo.  With that being said, Gaby and the publishers of Absolutely Avocados have graciously offered to do a giveaway of the book here!  Details on how to enter follow, but if you're anxious to get your hands on it, head on over to Amazon and buy a copy. Here are the details:

To enter this giveaway, leave a comment on this post telling us how you like to eat avocados (on their own, in a dish)?

Official Rules: No purchase necessary. Open to US residents only . Giveaway will end on May 6th 2013 at 12:00 pm EST. One winner with a valid entry will be selected at random using Winner will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to claim their prize or another winner will be selected.


Caesar Salad with Avocado Dressing

modified ever so slightly from Gaby Dalkin's Absolutely Avocados

makes about 1 1/2 cups


For the Dressing

1 Hass avocado

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 or 2 garlic cloves, peeled

3/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Salad

1 head Romaine lettuce, leaves washed and dried


Parmesan cheese


1. Cut the avocado in half lengthwise.  Remove the pit from the avocado and discard.  Remove the avocado from the skin and place the avocado flesh in a food processor bowl.

2. Add the olive oil, Parmesan, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic cloves, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper.  Pulse for 1 to 2 minutes, until smooth and creamy.  Adjust the salt and pepper if needed.

3. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 3 days.

4. To assemble the salad, line a platter with Romaine lettuce.  Drizzle the dressing over the lettuce, top with croutons and sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese.  Grind some fresh ground pepper over the salad.  Serve.