Sunday, June 1, 2008

Last dinner in Oregon

My last dinner before returning to Berkeley started, as many dinners do, with a morning trip to Farmers' Market. Oregon is a month behind California with respect to vegetables: we ended up with rhubarb (for bringing back to Berkeley; for whatever reason, the market there never had much), rainbow chard, very small red beets, carrots, green onion, and basil. Add to this wheat berry, feta, chevre, and garden oregano, and we get two fantastic dishes. Both are nice combinations and brilliantly colored, and could sit happily next to each other in the salad display case at a gourmet deli. (A high-end restaurant could make the wheat berry as described, garnished with a sprig of oregano. The salad would be composed on individual plates.)

Wheat Berry, Greek-Inspired
Set salted water and two cups wheat berry boiling. We started with two cups water, then added another two later, and then a little more. Sauté diced green onion, and stir into the wheat berry. While wheat berry cooks, prep remaining ingredients.

After about an hour, stir in one head chopped rainbow chard, and allow to cook two minutes. Remove from heat and add cubed feta, fresh oregano (we have two large oregano bushes: a plain oregano, and a very spicy "Greek" oregano), olive oil, and just a touch of lemon juice. Serve warm.

Salad with beets, carrots, basil, and chevre
Our beets were roughly one-inch diameter. If yours are larger, slice them. Wash and peel one bunch beets, reserving stems and greens. Cover beets with water, and bring to boil. After three to five minutes, beets should be just tender enough that you can get a fork in with some effort. Add washed and chopped stems and greens, cover, and let cook three more minutes. Drain in colander and rinse in cold water.

In a salad bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Add cooked beets, and mix. Then add, mixing each time, one bunch carrots, washed and chopped (young carrots do not need peeling); half a bag of basil, washed and with stems removed, but leave leaves whole; and four ounces chevre. Serve cool.

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