Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook

I can just feel the excitement in the air as we get ready to revv up summer with as much time as possible spent outside-whether garden, beach, river, park or mountains. That time is complete with carefree meals with the smoky essence of the grill. For the following dishes, much of the prep can be done in advance with grilling the sausages and warming up the dessert  as last minute cooking ...Relax and join the fun.

Farro is a whole grain of Italian derivation which nicely contains a good amount of protein.  When topped with fresh beets of the season and spiked with arugula leaves, it is a refreshing yet sturdy side dish/salad.

Grilled sausages are a sure hit for an outdoor grilling holiday. There are so many choices of sausage-pork, beef, lamb, chicken-apple or vegetable that everyone can choose their favorite or sample a bit of each. I’m suggesting the great “beyond pesto” recipe I showed at Homestead Gardens Urban Garden Weekend. The herb nut sauce can be made ahead and served on the side. The recipe is below.

The dessert dish, Clafouti is classic French and is simply a pancake-like batter poured over fruit and then baked. You may want to serve it with something rich and cooling like real whipped cream or even lightly sweetened mascarpone.


Farro Grill-Roasted Beet Salad

If you use different colored beets, roast each color in separate foil package. For this dish, you can substitute quinoa if farro is not to be found.

  • 2 cups farro
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups halved and sliced Euro or Persian cucumbers
  • 1/2 cup halved and sliced red onion
  • 1 cup small arugula leaves
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

 For the beets

  • 4 medium beets, different colors if possible, trimmed, washed and dried
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon roasted and freshly ground cumin seed

To grill roast the beets:

Preheat the grill to high.

In a medium bowl, combine the pepper, oil, salt, cumin and coriander. Add the beets and mix well.

Place the beets on a large piece of aluminum foil, and wrap tightly ensuring that they stay in a single layer. Make sure the package is tightly closed to keep the steam inside as the beets cook. (If you are using different colors of beets, wrap each color separately.) Discard any remaining marinade. Place the foil packets on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 50 minutes, until the beets are cooked through. Beets are cooked through when they are easily pierced with a knife.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature.

Remove the beets from the foil. You will notice that the skin peels off very easily with your fingers or a paring knife. The spice marinade may have concentrated itself on parts of a beet. If so, gently scrape it off with a knife.

Cut the beets in cubes and reserve while making salad.

For the farro:

Bring 6 cups of water and the bay leaf to a boil in a medium pot. Add farro and cook until just tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and let cool 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Put farro and remaining ingredients (except beets) in a medium bowl and toss gently to coat. Mound the salad on a serving platter on on individual plates. Place  the beet cubes on top of the salad.

Pistachio Arugula Pesto for Grilled Sausages

Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • Can't you just smell the aroma?5 ounces small peppery arugula leaves (about 5 cups)

    5 cups peppery arugula leaves

  • 1/4 cup pistachios or almonds, toasted
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons grated Manchego cheese
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

In a food processor, combine the 2 tablespoons olive oil, 4 ounces of the arugula, the pistachios and the garlic and pulse a few times until the arugula is roughly chopped. Add the Manchego and turn on the processor. Slowly drizzle in the 1/4 cup olive oil until a smooth paste forms, adding more olive oil as needed. Do not overprocess. Scrape the pesto into a bowl. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. Serve in a small bowl along with the sausages.

Preheat the grill to medium high. When hot, add the sausages and turn frequently so all sides are equally golden.

Berry Clafouti

Serves 4-6

A big bonus here is that you can make the batter the night before and just whir it up again just ahead of pouring over the berries. This is also a great dish for brunch.

The Clafouti can be rewarmed on the indirect heat of the grill.

  • Butter or oil to grease baking bowl
  • 8 ounces mixed berries (strawberries, hulled and halved lengthwise)
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Powdered sugar
  • whipped cream or lightly sweetened mascarpone

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 2-qt. baking or gratin dish with the butter. Toss the berries and strawberry halves with cornstarch until evenly coated, then arrange berries, cut side down, in bottom of dish and set aside.

In a blender or food processor, whirl eggs, milk, flour, granulated sugar, vanilla, and salt for 15 seconds. Pour batter over berries.

Bake until puffed, golden brown, and set in the center, about 50 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar and serve warm. Top with whipped cream or mascarpone.

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