Is it a coincidence that fresh tomatoes ripe from the vine or juicy, just picked peaches taste especially good in summer or is it nature’s design to give us what we need? I was thumbing through some cooking magazines admiring gorgeous photos of carmelized tomatoes and 10 ways to use fruit when I came across an article, “In Season For a Reason:”, by Ellie Krieger in CookFresh Magazine that claims our bodies are ‘calling for them’, meaning seasonal veggies. “Not only do summer vegetables taste better and have a higher nutritional value, in season produce is in sync with our nutritional needs; it contains specific nutrients that replenish and protect us in the hot summer months”. Summer’s juicy fresh fruits and vegetables help keep us hydrated (20 percent of our water intake comes from the food we eat) and are rich in anti-oxidants, just when we need them most. Specifically, antioxidants like lycopene, vitamin C and beta-carotene help protect our skin from the sun by neutralizing damage to skin cells caused by the sun’s UV rays. Potassium, which we lose when we sweat, is also found in many summer vegetables. I wonder if winter vegetables give us what we need in winter too?
I like combining seasonal fruits and vegetables, especially in salads. I often toss orange or grapefruit sections into my salads to give them a sweet and tangy boost. Today’s salad combines fresh, roasted beets, ripe peaches and arugula topped with goat cheese and pistachios. If I had them I would have added a few halved dark red Bing cherries or strawberries which are also in season. There is something about the combination of sweet and salty is really satisfying. Right now with peaches in season, they are plentiful, delicious and less expensive at the height of the season! If you have the grill going, you can just halve and pit them and stick them on the grill for a few minutes to slightly caramelize them or just cut them up fresh and delicious.
Like their intense color would suggest, beets are big on antioxidants, and have cancer and heart disease-fighting properties, as well as a host of vitamins and minerals. including iron. Roasting them brings out a more intense flavor and gorgeous color since nothing is released into water, as happens with boiling. If you slice them vertically, you may get heart shapes, which if you’re my pinterest friend, you know I collect hearts found in nature so couldn’t resist this picture. Too pretty! Don’t throw away the beets tops. They actually have more flavonoid antioxidants and vitamins than the beet roots themselves, including Vitamin A. They can be chopped and sautéed with a bit of olive oil and garlic for a delicious side dish similar to chard or mustard greens. The beets can be roasted a day or two beforehand and stored in the refrigerator until you need them. Other than roasting the beets (which is easy but takes time), this is a very fast and easy meal to throw together, nice and colorful too!
2-3 raw beets
Roasted Beet Salad with Ripe Peaches and Goat Cheese
1 bunch baby arugula
1/4 cup pistachios (or toasted pine nuts)
2 oz fresh goat cheese (optional)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 Tbsn fresh mint, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2-3 Tbsn balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 raw beets