On Winter Vegetables & those Who Grow Them & a Beet Salad

On Winter Vegetables & those Who Grow Them & a Beet Salad


arugula wildMy cover crop of crimson clover has just sprouted, I’ve planted my garlic and  have two fairly robust pots of lettuce and arugula growing steadily. The rest of the garden is slug ravaged and pretty drab. Our small garden that can produce quite a bit in the warmer months is not sustaining us now, by any means. I stay cozy inside and don’t venture into the garden much other than to dump the compost and make a quick dash to pick herbs–which actually are still very robust and much appreciated. Meanwhile some farmers I know are just wrapping up their summer shares and starting their winter ones. More and more of them, in order to sustain themselves (and us!) are growing and/or storing produce all year round.

I recently had the privilege of writing the forward for the forthcoming book Planting the Future: Profiles of Oregon’s New Farm Movement which profiles a fascinating mix of farmers, ranchers, seed breeders and advocates. It is abundantly clear from these profiles of these resilient, hardworking people who care about bio-diversity, people, land and their communities that WE, the eaters/consumers, have a critical role in their survival.

So I want to give a big, loud, thankful shout-out to the farmers who I have the privilege of working with directly who would very much like to keep you healthy and happy this winter with their beautiful produce. CSAs embody the epitome of cooking-with-what-have. The farmer chooses what’s best and that’s what you get. In the words of my ever-philosophical seven-year old, “you get what you get and you make the best of it!” and that’s not difficult with this produce because you are getting the best of it already. And if you don’t live in the northern Willamette Valley in Oregon you probably have CSAs or winter farmers’ markets in your area where you’ll find similarly wonderful produce.

If you do per chance sign up for any of these CSAs you will automatically get access to my subscription-only Seasonal Recipe Collection. And if you sign up for Sun Gold Farm’s one-time Thanksgiving share you’ll get a custom set of recipes.

Happy cooking to all and thank you dear farmers for going out in the rain and muck and wind and sleet when I’m cozy inside writing recipes!

WINTER CSAs in the Portland/Salem area

47th Ave Farm’s Winter Share starts the first week of November. The share features field grown crops like Tuscan kale, leeks, Purple Sprouting broccoli and sweet winter carrots. It also includes storage crops like Delicata & Sweet Meat winter squash, Amish Butter popcorn, a variety of potatoes, onions, dry beans and more.

Sauvie Island Organics is offering a Winter Storage Share for the first time that will include yellow French carrots, German Butterball potatoes, Dutch red shallots, nutty Japanese Kabocha winter squash, juicy Kohlrabi, crispy Daikon radishes, and more.

Minto Island Growers continues to provide a Winter Share for both Salem and Portland area customers with a wide variety of storage crops like carrots, potatoes, celeriac and just harvested greens and brassicas.

For additional Winter CSA options visit Portland Area CSA Coalition. There are also several wonderful year-round farmers’ markets including Hillsdale Farmers Market, Portland Farmers Market, and People’s Co-op Farmers’ Market.

Beet, Celery, Cilantro and Walnut Salad with Garlicky Dressing

I toss together a lot of beet salads, some of which make it into the recipe collection. This one, as they always do, resulted from what I happened to have on hand. Adapt as you see fit but the crunch of the celery, the sweet, robust beets and the sharp zing from the garlic is a particularly fun combination especially in the cooler months.

Serves 2-3

beet celery walnut salad

4 roasted (or boiled), cooled and peeled beets, cut into large dice or wedges
2 good-sized stalk celery (use some leaves if attached), washed and thinly sliced (halve the stalks lengthwise if they’re quite large first)
2 cloves garlic, minced and then mashed into a paste with some coarse salt on the cutting board with the side of a chef’s knife (or put through a press)
1/3 cup (or more) cilantro, stems and all, roughly chopped
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
1-2 ounces feta, crumbled
1 scallion, thinly sliced (optional–use a little onion or shallot if that’s what you have)
1 tablespoon (or more) sherry or red wine or cider vinegar
2 tablespoons (or more) good olive oil

Whisk the mashed garlic with the olive oil and vinegar. Toss this dressing with everything else, except the beets. Gently toss in the beets. Taste and adjust seasoning.


4 thoughts on “On Winter Vegetables & those Who Grow Them & a Beet Salad”

  • Carol Boutard says:

    What an absolutely magnificent creation! I could honestly master this. Can you expand on the reason behind your vinegar suggestions? I am often in doubt as to which to use when.

    • cookwithwhatyouhave says:

      Thanks for your note Carol. My vinegar choices are a combination of trial and error over the years (though I don’t think there are actually too many possibly errors with vinegars) and what I have on hand. The beauty of vinegar is that it of course keeps for a long time. I long ago got onto Sherry vinegar and beets but both the others are just fine too. You just want a nice acidic punch. Honestly I don’t think it matters much at all. But do make it, in whatever version works for you.

  • I made this last Sunday, modified for those who would be enjoying it. I left out the feta for the non-dairy requirement. and replace the cilantro with arugula for those who fiercely dislike cilantro (their loss). I added extra walnuts, but would follow your amount next time. This salad was a big hit. I served it along with garlic bread and a squash soup from “The Tassajara Recipe Book” . Showing my age here. Adapted the soup, too, to make it non-dairy and added cooked white beans for some extra protein, which I thought improved the soup. Thanks for this recipe and I look forward to more.

    • cookwithwhatyouhave says:

      Thanks so much for the update Joyce. And it’s so useful for others to see your modifications. And I’m glad the food was enjoyed by all.

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