I used to garden, a long while back when there were only two of us in the house. I had much time in my hand, and I didn't know that cooking, baking, and taking food photography would take up my time back then. So, I channeled my energy and focus on gardening. Though I didn't have a fancy landscaping, my husband and I would go to garden centers at times and picked some flowers or ornamental plants to be added in the yard. I didn't garden extensively, only during spring and summer time I would be busy in the yard; but I would grow something and get harvest from it and my husband and I got to enjoy eating them too.
Now that much of my time is writing and making food--plus I also worked part-time during the day--my garden was neglected. Pretty much left were some herb plants and strawberry plants in the garden boxes. No more going out to garden centers and buying plants. It's a little sad, but as long as my yard is clean and doesn't grow too wild, I'm already happy about the situation. But, never despair, somebody would give us his/her share of his/her crops to us and we still get to enjoy fresh harvested produce.
Take these beautiful beets for example. A friend of ours has a big yard in his property and he gardens extensively, so he asked me one day if I like beets. I said, sure I love them but I'm the only one who's eating them in the household. He promised to share a couple of his fresh plucked-from-the-earth beets with me. He came a while back and brought two good-size beets. I decided to make a simple chopped salad using roasted beets because beets this fresh really don't need a fussy preparation.
The ingredients can be changed as you like, play with other food's texture and flavor, or what's available in your fridge and pantry. That's what I did anyway, these were what I happened to have at home and I sure made use of them effectively. The vinaigrette used roasted walnut oil, if this is too strong of a taste for you, substitute with other mild oil.
Chopped Beet Salad
1 medium-size fresh beet, leaves trimmed
2 hard boiled eggs, diced
10 oz. spinach, stems trimmed, leaves sliced thinly
1 medium Gala apple, diced
1/3 cup blue cheese, crumbled
For the walnut oil vinaigrette:
1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons walnut oil
Preheat oven to 400 degree F. Wrap beet tightly with double layers of foil, place in baking sheet and roast in hot oven for about 1 hour, or until it's tender when pierced with a fork. Cool until warm in foil until ready to use.
Make walnut oil vinaigrette: Blend together vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk in the oil in slow stream until it's well blended.
Peel beet skin and diced beets. Divide and assemble diced beets with other salad ingredients in plates and drizzle dressing over salad and serve.