Beet-Tomato Soup & Shaved Zucchini Salad

I've been looking forward to farmer's market season for months. Yeah, our local farmer's market technically goes all winter long, but only the meat/dairy people are there. It's not until May that all the produce farmers set up shop. We have a few weeks still before the veggies really hit their summer stride, but some really great springtime deliciousness can be found.

This soup & salad meal made use of some of the late-spring produce that I picked up yesterday. A big pile of tiny baby zucchini -- only about 4 inches long, and very thin -- became a shaved zucchini salad with sweet pistachios and salty parmesan. (Never eaten zucchini raw? It's great. It's got a really nice crunch to it.) And two bunches of beautiful beets got transformed into a delicious beet and tomato soup with cumin, kind of like a summery southwestern take on borscht. Together, they made a beautiful and wonderfully fresh Sunday dinner.

Shaved Zucchini Salad with Parmesan and Pistachios
From Food & Wine
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 pounds small, firm zucchini, very thinly sliced lengthwise on a mandoline
  • 1/3 cup shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 1 1/2 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons lightly salted roasted pistachios
In a small bowl, whisk the oil with the lemon zest and juice. Season with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, toss the sliced zucchini with the lemon dressing. Add the Parmesan and the pistachios, toss again and serve.

Beet-and-Tomato Soup with Cumin
From Food & Wine
  • 1 pound medium beets
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 medium shallots, thinly sliced
  • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin, plus more for garnish
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • Creme fraiche (for garnish, optional-- I couldn't find any at the store, so left it out)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley (for garnish, optional)
In a large saucepan, cover the beets with water. Bring to a boil and cook over moderately high heat until tender, about 1 hour; if necessary, add more water to keep the beets covered. Drain the beets and let cool slightly, then peel and coarsely chop.

Wipe out the saucepan and heat the olive oil in it. Add the shallots and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and chopped beets, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes release their juices, about 5 minutes. Add the 1 teaspoon of cumin and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the vegetable stock and tomato paste and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.

Puree the soup in batches in a food processor. Rewarm the soup in teh saucepan and season with salt and pepper if needed. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with dollops of creme fraiche (if using). Sprinkle with a little cumin and the parsley and serve.