Light and bright

When temperatures rise, our whole way of eating changes – we often make dinner out of nothing but a good, lean protein and a whole mess of veggies. Again, it’s about stripping things down, simplifying flavors so that the freshness of the good stuff we bring home from the market shines through.

Last night was another of those meals. A couple halibut filets, seared in olive oil until golden, and served on top of a beet “carpaccio” – red and golden beets sliced as thinly as possible (and since my mandoline slicer has disappeared since our move, I did it the old fashioned way), steeped briefly in vinegar (champagne vinegar for the golden beets; sherry for the red), then layered on our plates. They got a sprinkling of lemon thyme, some thinly sliced purple scallions, Maldon salt, freshly ground pepper and a drizzle of grassy olive oil before the fish went on top, and I finished the plates with a salad of baby mustard greens and picked flat-leaf parsley.

Dinner:  July 2, 2008

The flavors were fresh and vibrant, and dinner was ready in minutes, with minimal cleanup – leaving us more time to enjoy the warm evening. Isn’t that what summer cooking is all about?


12 thoughts on “Light and bright

  1. i just picked up our first bunch of stuff from the bushwick csa so i’ve got a bunch of beets to work with now as well. plus i just read an article in the NYT about how good beets are for you. this is an awesome way to prepare them! i’m probably gonna roast these with some turnips, but apparently raw is the best use for them.

  2. These photos are fantastic. I could almost taste the vinegar and sweetness of the beets they looked so real.

    My CSA basket hasn’t provided beets yet, but I’m waiting.

  3. Marijoe says:

    Hello Jennifer,
    I am a big fan of your blog. It is fantastic!!!!
    Did you cook the beets? I had made beet carpaccio with roasted or boiled ones, but never with raw beets. I should try this way.

  4. Marcos Castrillón says:

    So much colour, you gotta love Summer.

    The weather here is still a bit crazy, hot but still raining, but the Summer really has hit the local market, judged by the staggering amount of fish available now, and specially, the size of it. July has truly arrived when you start seeing Groupers the size of a human torso and 8 footer Conger eels on the market.

  5. Jennifer Hess says:

    Marie – I really wanted to keep their vibrant color, and this was actually the first time I’ve tried them raw… but it definitely won’t be the last!

    Chris – I love them roasted, but try them this way, too! Nice to hear the csa is happening in the old neighborhood – I was hoping they’d be able to get it up and running. 😀

    Melody – I only recently became a fan of beets, but now I can’t get enough!

    Marijoe – hello and welcome! These were uncooked, and they were great this way. I just sliced them very thin and gave them a brief soak in vinegar, no cooking necessary!

    Marcos – I’m so jealous of your bounty of fish. We get wonderful clams, oysters, lobsters and sometimes crab at our local farmers’ market, but we’re missing the finfish we could get when we lived in NYC. It’s crazy how we’re so close to the ocean and local bluefish, striper, and other fish are plentiful, but they seem to either go directly to restaurants or are shipped elsewhere. Frustrating! We sometimes have luck at the seafood counter at Whole Foods – they often have, in addition to local shellfish, lots of squid (which is plentiful in these waters) and bluefish, but we haven’t seen much else.

    Any of you Rhody natives care to direct me to a good fishmonger? 😀

  6. Marcos Castrillón says:

    Most of that fish ends up in Restaurants or it’s out of my budget anyway, so no need to be jeaoulus. 🙂 But it’s nice to see such a catch around. I really need to bring the camera next time I’m there, but I’m fairly crap at making photos and the lighting there is quite atrocious, so I doubt they’d look any good.

    If you are near the docks, you should try asking the fishermen directly. They’ll either point you to the fishmongers they sell to or, if you are lucky, sell you some of the catch. If things work there as in here, they’ll get more money that way.

    Or you could always buy Mike a fishing rod. 🙂

  7. Oh wow! What beautiful colours. Beets are so underused raw I think. This should hopefully inspire people to start thinking about using them in this way.

  8. Jennifer, this all sounds fabulous! And I’m totally impressed by the thinness of the beet slices without a mandoline. I’m still trying to embrace the earthy taste of beets, but since the New York Times recently named them one of The 11 Best Foods You Aren’t Eating, I think it’s time to get over myself. This sounds like the perfect way to do it.

  9. Jennifer Hess says:

    Marcos – don’t laugh but I actually said to Mike recently that I want to learn to fish!

    Helen – it took me a long time to come around, but now I love them raw or cooked!

    Terry B – Give beets a chance! 😉

    Rhonda – I can only recommend that you try them. I find myself wishing that I had sooner!

  10. Amy M says:

    As a Providence resident, I echo your frustration with the lack of available fishmongers. How is it possible that we can see the water but cannot access fresh fish other than from Whole Fds?
    If you are willing to drive 20+ minutes, you may have some good luck in Wickford village. There is a fish market, Gardner’s Wharf Seafood, located on Main St right on the water, just east from the town center. I bought some fresh squid there a few months ago, and some nicely smoked bluefish. The staff were knowledgeable and offered a good selection of fresh fish and some prepared foods. I have only been there a couple of times, so can’t attest to it’s consistency (nor it’s variety! Especially considering the fact that we bought the same squid that we ordinarily pick up at Whole Fds…), but it might be worth a visit if you find yourself near Wickford. Besides, Wickford is lovely at this time of year!
    I am eager to hear of any new, local sources of fresh fish from you and your readers.
    I love your blog!

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