The first scent of autumn always brings a smile to my face. As the days get shorter and cooler, Tahoe begins to smell differently. It starts with a swift, brisk breeze…the air holds the cool aroma of water mixed with the warmth of pine and for a brief second, it is almost possible to smell undertones of winter storm clouds on their way. Rich, distinct, and seasonal, just like an apple pie coming out of the oven: cinnamon, nutmeg and ripe fruit permeating everything around, I can picture the season en route to our mountainous basin for a visit, bringing with it a wealth of sensory pleasure. At this point every year, there is a calm…a tranquility and silence unique to autumn. Each year, I take a huge whiff and appreciate the unsurpassed beauty of the place I call home.
Fall reminds me of how lucky I am to experience sensory overload any time I desire it. Fall begs for change and yet provokes the embrace of safe routine, early evenings, and above all, colorful, rich food. I took one of my favorite recipes, substituted a twist of root, added some warmth and the result was a dish reminiscent of autumn. This caprese salad calls for beets as opposed to tomatoes. All the combined ingredients create a textural haven for buttery, nutty, sweet flavors that compliment each other and indulge the hunger for season.
- 3 – 4 medium-sized golden beets, peeled
- 1/2 red onion, thinly and finely chopped
- 8 oz. fresh mozerella cheese, chopped into bite-sized peices
- 1/4 pound walnuts, chopped
- Handful of fresh basil leaves (about 8 large leaves)
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- zest of one lemon
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
In a large saucepan, heat water for steaming the beets. If you have a steamer, it comes in handy. If not, you can boil the beets right in the water, like potatoes. Bring the water to a boil and then turn heat down to a simmer. Allow beets to steam roughly 30 minutes or until they’re soft enough for a fork to poke in easily. Remove beets from heat and allow them to cool so that you can peel and chop them for the salad. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the chopped beets, onion, mozerella, and walnuts. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest and honey and stir well. Pour this mixture over the ingredients and stir well, ensuring all pieces are coated with dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste, garnish with fresh basil. Refrigerate to ensure beets are the same temperature as the rest of the ingredients. This salad gets even better the next day and makes a great side dish!