Walking along a trail, in a park that runs along the Columba River, I found mulberries. At least I think that’s what they were. I ate a bunch before asking an elderly couple, and their Lhasa Apso passing by, if they knew what I was eating. The dog didn’t talk much, but the couple said the berries were quite edible. I had to agree. They were sweet and unlike any berry I'd had before. (I know what you're thinking, don't eat the unidentified berries you dummy! Trust me though, I've eaten much worse.)
Along this park are many mulberry trees, plum trees, apple trees, and fortresses of blackberry bushes. It makes me wonder why we don’t plant fruit trees in our parks anymore. I can just imagine what it was like fifty or more years ago walking along the river, knowing you could stop for a snack of fresh fruit anytime you wanted. What a remarkable legacy to leave behind.
Jesse and I picked a napkin full of mulberries to make this salad before heading home. I look forward to going back when the plums are ready.
Fig flavored goat cheese or plain goat cheese
½ cup Pompeian Pomegranate Infused Balsamic Vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus a little more for beets
Salt & freshly cracked pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
2. Cut off the beet stocks and roots and scrub well under water to clean. Pat dry and rub the beats with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place on the baking sheet and cook for 50-60 minutes until easily pierced with a knife. Cool, peel, and slice beets.
3. Toast the walnuts in a bowl in 30 second increments on high until toasted and fragrant. Chop into large pieces.
4. Chop spinach or use baby spinach and arrange on individual plates. Top with sliced beets, some crumbled goat cheese, walnuts, and mulberries.
5. Shake together vinegar and oil. Drizzle a little over salads. Then sprinkle salad with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Serve immediately.
By Laura Flowers