Well there it is, at the top, a slice of roasted gold beet replacing the usual bread. Layered on the beet are avocado, sautéed leeks and kumquat slices, with mint for garnish. It's a beauty of a first course, more elegant than the bready version.
Rather than a restaurant creation, it's from Melissa's, the produce company, which was showing off spring produce to a writers group to which I fortunately belong.
A vegetable lover, I was in heaven tasting what we'll be getting this season, and planning how to use it. For dinner tonight, I pulled together a salad with black kale as the base topped with mini San Marzano tomatoes, slices of watermelon radish and beets in balsamic vinaigrette (Melissa's sells the beets already cooked and in the dressing).
Kale is big for spring, and we admired a table full of it--the ruffly, chewy green kale you get in the supermarket, black kale, pretty flowering kale with purple stems (above) and kale sprouts, which are a hybrid of Brussels sprouts crossed with red Russian kale. In the center are kale chips.
We saw jumbo sized leeks, the kind they prefer in Europe, and which are expected to take over the market here. If you don't like cleaning leeks, you'll be pleased to know you can get them already cleaned, sliced and ready for your potage Parmentier (potato leek soup). To help you out, the recipe is on the package (above).
Spring also means rhubarb (above). Try it combined with dried strawberries in a cupcake frosted with buttercream, perked up with Pixie tangerine zest, and topped with a Pixie segment. The Pixies come from Ojai, and the crop this spring is so abundant they'll be here longer than usual, until the end of June.
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup rhubarb, minced
1/2 cup dried strawberries, chopped
2 tablespoons brown sugar