Every Saturday in Puerto Vallarta, there's a Farmer's Market at the plaza in "the romantic zone". It's always one of the highlights of my visit. Local farmers and food vendors come together to share what they've grown and produced with the 'snow birds', part timer's, permanent expats and Mexican nationals. Last Saturday, there was seafood paella, candied nuts (all kinds), Thai food, creamy coconut water, homemade yogurt, hummus, cheeses, tortillas, tacos and tamales (duh) along with baked goods and of course beautiful produce. I came looking for rocket (aka arugula) and in the process also found some beautiful fennel and a bunch of golden beets...perfect salad ingredients!. According to Gillian Riley, author of the Oxford Companion to Italian Food, rocket has a reputation as a sexual stimulant and it was "prudently mixed with lettuce, which was the opposite", who knew? The combination of the spicy, sexy rocket with the crisp and mild anise flavor of the fennel is a perfect base for the sweet, earthy beets. The addition of some thinly sliced red onion and salty feta cheese adds just the right touch. This salad just might be the perfect addition to your St. Valentine's Day menu... lucky devil.
Golden Beet, Shaved Fennel & Rocket Salad
a few big handfuls of fresh rocket (arugula), washed and dried well.
1 bulb fennel, cut in half and sliced thinly (I use a mandoline)
1 bunch of golden beets (or any color of beet)
1/4 of a red onion, cut into 1/4's sliced thinly
1/2 c crumbled feta (optional)
for the vinaigrette:
1 clove of garlic, chopped finely
1 T dijon mustard
1 T honey
1 T chopped, fresh basil leaves
1 T rice wine vinegar
salt and pepper, a few grinds of each
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the tops off of the beets, wash and dry them well. Place them on a piece of foil on a sheet pan and drizzle with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Close the foil and roast until done 45-55 minutes. I like them to have a bit of resistance when poked with a knife since they will be eaten in a salad. Let them cool and then peel, the skin should come off pretty easily. Prepare the vinaigrette, mix the first 6 ingredients in a small bowl. Add the oil in a steady stream, whisking to emulsify. Toss the rocket in a bit of the vinaigrette and place on 4 plates by small handfuls. Toss the fennel and red onion together with a little vinaigrette and place on top of the rocket, then top with some of the beets. Drizzle lightly with more vinaigrette and then sprinkle with the feta. You could sprinkle with some torn basil if you like. Serves 4.
Voted Best Caterer for Tuolumne and Calaveras Counties 2016