A couple of weeks ago I was treated to a great evening at Rue Cler in downtown Durham. The highlight of the meal was a salad course of fresh summer tomatoes, cucumbers and beets in a creamy chevre dressing. The key to this salad was the freshness of the ingredients (their menu changes monthly to keep up with the seasons) and the fact that the tomatoes were seasoned really well with good quality salt. Beets have never been a favorite of mine, but I came home thinking about how beautiful and delicious that salad was. In an effort to expand my diet and take advantage of the beauty of summer vegetables, I recreated this salad over the weekend. This recipe is very close to the original. It is light and fresh and an incredible purple color. I ate it solo on Saturday night while I was home experienting. I served it the following night to a friend with a simple grilled steak, good cheese and bread.
The Durham restaurant scene is fantastic and seems to be gaining a lot of press these days. Check it out next time you are looking for something new and different. In the meantime, make this salad while the season is so tasty.
Goat Cheese Buttermilk Dressing:
- 1 handful fresh basil
- 2 scallions
- 4 ounces goat cheese
- 4 tablespoons buttermilk
- 3 or 4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- white pepper
In a food processor, mince basil and scallions. Add goat cheese buttermilk, vinegar to taste and consistancy. Season with salt and pepper.
Summer Tomato, Cucumber and Beet Salad, serves 2 or 3 people
- 1 good summer tomato, heirloom if you are looking to splurg
- 3 fresh beats
- 1 garden cucumber
- fleur de sel, or other good salt
- olive oil
- Goat Cheese and Buttermilk Dressing
Drizzle the beets with olive oil and wrap the beets in aluminum foil. Roast the beets at 425 degrees for an hour (or until tender) in the oven. Allow the beets to cool and then remove the skin (you should be able to rub it off with your fingers). Chop into medium sized chunks. Peel the cucumber and remove the seeds with a spoon. Chop the cucumber in similar sized chunks as the beets. Dress the cucumbers and beets with the Goat Cheese and Buttermilk Dressing.
Slice the tomatoes very thin, layer them on a plate and season liberally with fleur de sel. Drizzle with olive oil (optional). Top tomatoes with big scoops of purple beet and cucumber mixture. Season with fresh basil – if you’d like.