Beet and orange salad

Neither my son nor I are crazy about beets, but this recipe has somewhat changed our mind. The mild acidity of the orange balances the earthy sweetness of the beets, and the onion and parsley add nice grace notes. This offbeat recipe is from Franco Dunn, retired from restaurants in Sonoma, California, and now making sausages for sale in the many area farmers’ markets. It’s included in a small new cookbook, just out, that collects recipes from six chefs in Sonoma, one of California’s premium wine regions. The grassy-sweet-tart combination is perfect with a light red wine, such as Beaujolais.

2 lbs beets
2 oranges
½ thinly sliced red onion
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
Juice of 1 lemon

Roast beets till tender (about 45 minutes) Let them cool slightly, then slip skins off with your fingers. Cut beets into small wedges and cool completely. Peel the oranges with a knife. (Tip: Cut right down the sides of the oranges, exposing the flesh, then cut the wedges away from the membranes with a sharp paring knife and drop into a mixing bowl. Do this over the bowl, to catch more of the orange juice.) Toss all the ingredients together. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.
The book, called “Gatherings,” is available online from

Potato Mixta

I’ve seen variations of this dish in Sicily, Greece, and southern France, so I guess it’s truly “Mediterranean cuisine.” Certainly comfort food!
        Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C. In a large pan, boil water.
       Start with 1 pound of waxy potatoes*, peel or not, as you wish; I don’t. Cut into quarters. Add potatoes, parboil for just 7-8 minutes. Drain.
       Cut about two dozen good-quality black olives in half. Cut the same amount of small tomatoes (baby plums are best) in half or thirds if they’re a bit bigger. Cut three or four cloves of garlic in thirds. De-stem and seed a red bell pepper, chop into dice. Combine and set aside.
       In a roasting pan, put 50 ml olive oil and place in oven (hot oil won’t soak into the potatoes and make them greasy).
       Place potatoes in a large bowl, add olive-tomato-etc. mix. Scatter over it a heaping tablespoonful of dried oregano** and several grindings of black pepper, toss well.
       Add the potato mixture to the roasting pan and stir well to coat with olive oil (give it a good shake as well, to settle the mix). Return it to the oven and cook for about 45 minutes. Stir the mixture every 15 minutes.
       If you want a one-pan meal, brown chicken breasts in a frying pan, then place on top of potatoes to finish for the last half-hour; or lay boneless fish fillets on top for the last 15 minutes. *Any quantity will do, just keep the 50/25/25% ratio. **You could also mix in a couple of rosemary sprigs to the mix before cooking; remove before serving.