Another wonderful thing about Seattle: the summer farmers market. It’s not that there weren’t farmers markets in DC, there were, and good ones. I was especially loyal to the one in downtown Falls Church, close to the last place I lived in the DC area. But the farmers markets I’ve been to in Seattle just seem so much more robust (ew, I hate that word)…buzzing…alive…bountiful. Not just in that there are seemingly more of them, but also each one is brimming with so many different types of produce, so many different farmers to choose from, each booth with something tastier than the last.
I’ve also noticed that many, most really, of the booths are selling organic fruits and veggies. People ’round these parts are committed to their organic, local, seasonal produce – even many of the grocery stores are great for that. It’s quite impressive. I know it’s a trend that’s sweeping the nation, but I can tell it’s not a recent thing in the Pacific Northwest and I am reaping the benefits.
I am also dazzled by the number and variety of other wares I find at the farmers market – things like local, handmade cheese, homegrown grains (I used wheat berries from Bluebird Grain Farms in the recipe below), fresh-caught seafood, and I’m only just beginning to explore everything it has to offer.
With all this enthusiasm, I’m sure it’s not a surprise to hear that I’ve gone a bit overboard the last couple times we’ve visited our local farmers market. The closest one to where we live is the one in the U District, which is huge – much to my delight, but adding to my overindulgence.
Oh my. When I go there I find myself in a state that is somewhere between heaven and the old game show Supermarket Sweep. If I actually got everything for free, like the players on Supermarket Sweep did, then it would be pure heaven! But alas…
It’s all just so hard to resist. I want to buy everything and I rationalize it by reminding myself that summer in Seattle doesn’t last long (at least that’s what long-time residents keep telling me) and that I need to take advantage. As a result, last week I was looking for recipes that would use as much of my farmers market haul as possible.
I had bookmarked a recipe from The Kitchn almost a year ago for a barley salad with golden beets, chard and feta, and it fit the bill perfectly. I know, it sounds a little wintry. But beets and chard are in season now, so why give them the cold shoulder until November? Nearly everything I used to make my adapted version of this recipe came from the U District Farmers Market.
The flavors and textures in this dish burst when you eat it. The sweet, earthiness of the beets and chard, the chewiness of the grains, the salty tang of the feta cheese. The combination of these ingredients is magical to a veggie-lover like me. Try it out and I’m sure you will agree. I will be back to corn and stone fruit tomorrow, don’t you worry. For now, it’s all about this warm, satisfying salad.
Golden Beet and Wheat Berry Salad with Rainbow Chard
Adapted from The Kitchn
Makes about 5 cups
You can really play fast and loose with this recipe, as I did in adapting it to my tastes. For the greens, you can use kale, beet greens, or spinach (though I would cook them for less time if I were to use spinach) if you don’t have chard. For the grains, you can use barley as The Kitchn recipe suggests, but I used wheat berries and I also think that farro would be lovely. For the onion element, I cooked white onion instead of adding raw (though soaked) red onion because I just don’t like raw onion. I also omitted the scallions in the original recipe because I didn’t have any, and – I must admit – used lime juice instead of lemon juice because I didn’t have any lemons. All of this is just to say that this recipe is a prime candidate for experimenting and using what you happen to have in your kitchen – it will taste fabulous no matter what!
- 1 cup dry hard white wheat berries
- 3 large golden beets, tops removed
- 1 bunch rainbow chard, washed
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice (or lime juice, if you must), divided
- 1 small white or yellow onion, diced
- 4 ounces feta, crumbled
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oven to 450-degrees.
Bring 3 cups of salted water to a boil. Add the wheat berries. Reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for approximately 45 minutes, or until they are soft. Drain when done and set aside.
Loosely wrap the beets in foil and roast in the oven until they are just fork tender – about 45 minutes. Peel the beets while they are still warm – I find the edge of a fork works brilliantly to just scrape the skin off. Once peeled, dice the beets into 1-inch cubes.
Meanwhile, prepare the chard. Strip off the leaves and tear them into bite-sized pieces. Cut the stems into bite-sized pieces.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the chard stems and diced onion until they start to brown a bit around the edges. Add the torn chard leaves, half of the lemon juice (1 1/2 tablespoons), and a big pinch of salt. Cover and cook the chard until it is bright green and has wilted down, stirring occasionally (about 8 minutes).
Once everything is cooked, combine wheat berries, beets, chard and onion mixture, and feta in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together the remaining lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and drizzle this vinaigrette over the salad. Stir to evenly coat all the ingredients.
Taste and season with salt as needed, and pepper to taste. You can serve immediately, but if you can wait it’s good to let it sit for 15-20 minutes so that the wheat berries can absorb the liquid. Serve at room temperature.