Plainclothes Feast

A weekly peek at one dinner table, in the heart of one home, in the center of the country


Roasted Summer Greens Salad

It’s summer proper, and I have proof:


This little guy is licking the beater clean of homemade blueberries-and-cream ice cream…in the back yard…in his underpants…at 7-something in the evening. The shadows are yawning, and he is sticky, but there’s a water hose nearby, so I can’t even be bothered to be bothered.

It’s Saturday evening, but I know this only because I’ve been to the farmers’ market, a weekly ritual which works to fasten the world into its daily slots. And we need that. I’m reminded now of what our older son said a few weeks ago, as he grieved the approaching end of 2nd grade: “I want to staple myself to the wall and stay 8 forever.” It almost feels as though he could. The sunset takes so long to take hold, and Mondays feel no different from the weekend days they follow. And if I had a thousand lives, I hope I’d have the good sense in every single one of them to marry a hunky English teacher and have a handful of pretty kids who run around the yard half-naked all summer long.


This is what I bought at the market:


It’s so pretty I was tempted not to cook it at all, but I know from experience that Swiss chard bouquets don’t last much longer than a single summer day.  So, in the interest of stapling this Saturday to the wall a little more firmly, I decided to deploy the chard, along with a bunch of beets and beet greens (also from the market) in the creation of a date-night dinner that we could enjoy in the interminable twilight once the kids were sleeping soundly on top their sheets.

This is what I did:

1. I roasted my beets in a 400-degree oven for a long time. Then I took them out of the oven and rinsed them under cold water to peel away the scaly skin.


2. I chopped the Swiss chard–leaves and stalks– and the well-rinsed beet greens. (Did you know, by the way, that Swiss chard and beets are two varieties of the same plant? The chard is bred to put more of its energy into its leaves, and the beet to put more of its energy into the root. Cool, huh?)


3. I added some lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, and lemon pepper to the greens and the stalks and tossed them well.




4.Then I roasted them in a 450 degree oven for just a few minutes, until they wilted slightly and smelled fantastic.


5. Meanwhile, I grilled a nice, fat ribeye, which I’d rubbed with lots of grill seasoning. When it was medium-rare, I topped it with some herb butter and lemon juice and let it rest for quite a while.


6. I served the roasted greens salad with garnet bullseyes of beet slices, crumbled feta, the thinly sliced ribeye, a pile of fried onions (because without onions, it’s not date night at my house), and some lovely farmers’ market Parmesan peppercorn bread.

roasted summer greens salad

I happen not to like red wine (or maybe I should say it doesn’t like me), but I wished I had glass behind this plate just for the jewel color. Beets and chard stems and medium-rare beef and a glass of red wine at sunset. Wow. What a world.