Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Kitchen Gardener Cook


Last week we gave you crabcakes on the grill and this's fresh from the farm (or your garden) for the side dishes. The beet salad is spectacular and can be held outdoors at a picnic or cook out. Even the beets shine if you decide to serve them solo. Baby turnips make a unique and delectable dish--somewhat like a very mild and sweeter radish. If the turnips greens don't appeal-just omit. Everyone needs a pasta dish to round out any menu and this makes use of that grilled essence, but you grill the vegetables ahead and have the dish ready-to-go in advance. Oh those grilled portobellas! Yummy and succulent graced with a robe of spiffy mayonnaise.

Arugula and Anise Scented Balsamic Beets

Serves 4

If you’ve got the grill fired up for holiday cooking there is every reason to do ALL your cooking on it-including some of the prep.

The beets and glaze in this recipe can be made up to 3 days in advance. Toss them, chilled, right before serving for a vibrant cool salad.


  • 1 pound beets (about 1 bunch), about 2" in diameter each, trimmed
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 medium bunch arugula (about 4 cups), trimmed and washed
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste



Preheat the oven to 425°F or the grill to high heat.

Wrap the beets in aluminum foil and place directly on the oven or grill rack. Roast for 45 minutes, or until a knife easily pierces the beets. Cool for 30 minutes, then peel and cut each beet into 8 wedges.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the orange juice, vinegar, star anise, and sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 12 to 14 minutes, or until reduced to about 2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons of syrup. Discard the star anise pods, then toss the syrup with the beets.

Toss the arugula with the lemon juice, lemon zest, oil, salt, and pepper. Arrange over 4 serving plates. Divide the beets into 4 portions and place each on top of the arugula. Drizzle any remaining orange-balsamic syrup over each plate. Serve immediately.

Shaved Baby Turnip Salad

Serves 6

If you can find the tiny extremely sweet Hakerai turnips from your farmer...go for it! I was introduced to these gems at Clagett Farm and even the kids gobble them up as they did on my  Sustainable Cooking TV show with Emeril Lagasse. You can substitute slightly larger bulk turnips (about the size of a lime - any larger and they'll have to be peeled), or watermelon radishes.




  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil


  • 2 bunches baby white doll, Hakerai, Scarlet or Gold turnips, or 5 small regular turnips (about 2 cups shaved)
  • 3 heads white Belgian endive, leaves separated
  • 2 cups Boston lettuce leaves
  • 1 ripe avocado, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt

For the dressing: Whisk together lemon juice, tamari, pepper flakes and oil. Set aside.

For the salad: Cut off turnip tops. Clean the turnips, wash and dry the greens, and set them aside. Use a mandoline to shave whole slices of turnip 1/16 -inch thick, or as thin as possible with a sharp knife without having the slices break.

Place the dressing in a large mixing bowl. Add the turnips, turnip greens, endive leaves, lettuce and cubed avocado; gently toss by hand. Add salt to taste.

Place salad in the center of six plates, drizzling the remaining dressing from the bowl around the vegetables and serve.

Rigatoni with Grilled Vegetables and Roasted Garlic Dressing

Serves 10-12

This is a stellar pasta salad-prefect for summer when foods sit at room temperature.  You can use any type of pasta -  even ravioli is lush.  And, you can use any grilled vegetables that you like.  The roasted garlic dressing emulsifies so that it almost appears creamy and really coats the pasta and vegetables.

  • 1 pound rigatoni or penne pasta, cooked and drained per directions
  • 4 cups grilled vegetables (use some combination of eggplant, red or yellow bell pepper, sweet onion, zucchini and summer squash) that are basted in equal 2 parts olive oil to one part white wine vinegar
  • 1 head roasted garlic (cut off some of the top, drizzle with olive oil and grill or bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour)
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

To make the dressing:

Add the roasted garlic cloves (squeeze them out of the head of garlic), olive oil,vinegar and cheese to a food processor.  Puree until smooth.  Toss the pasta and vegetables with the dressing.

Grilled Peppered Portobello Mushrooms

Serves 6

These gems could serve as a side dish for a grill or as the main star if you decide to go all veggie. You wont' need all of the aioli for the top of the mushrooms, so serve it as a condiment.




  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper + more to taste
  • 4 medium portobello mushrooms, stems removed

Caper Aioli

  • 1 cup quality prepared mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon ustard
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest, finely chopped

For the portobellos:

Preheat the grill to medium high.

Mix extra virgin olive oil, tamari and black pepper together. Rub mixture onto the mushroom caps. Place cap side down on a the grill and cook with the lid closed for about 6 minutes. Flip and grill 6 more minutes. Cool and reserve.

For the caper aioli: Whisk together the mayonnaise, capers, mustard, garlic, oregano, parsley, lemon zest and olive oil. Refrigerate until ready to use. (This can be made a day ahead.)

To serve: Slice the grilled mushroom caps on a thin bias, arrange on a grill safe  pan and sprinkle with a bit more freshly ground black pepper.  Dab up to 1/2 cup of the aioli on top and  place on the indirect heat of the grill for a few minutes until aioli is warm and bubbly.


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