Jennifer Lopez, Mick Jagger, Madonna and Tony Bennett. Throw in Mae West, Coco Chanel and Mata Hari and you can see that those born in Leo — the fifth sign of the zodiac — aren’t shy and retiring. I know this from personal experience as my Mom was a Leo. Her idea of an intimate gathering was sixty of her closest friends, bottles of champagne, and new potatoes that had been boiled, sliced in half, flesh scooped out and replaced with caviar and sour cream.
So it’s not surprising that the foods we harvest in August are all singing and all dancing. We can barely keep up with the bounty. It’s heady and intoxicating and we know it can’t last. And we’re probably a bit relieved too. Autumn comes in quietly. Like the sunlight itself this time of year, it’s softer and more subtle.
But don’t underestimate what you’ll find at farmers’ markets in New Mexico this time of year. Winter greens have a bitter bite that begs for a creamy, mustardy vinaigrette. Kabocha squash is more flavorful than butternut and is multi-talented — roast them in wedges or cook and puree for a creamy soup dusted with chile and toasted pepitas.
And beets may be small, a bunch resting comfortably in the palm of your hand, but there is a concentrated sweetness in them. Save the leaves and sauté like you would chard. Give the beets themselves a scrub and place them in a baking dish lined generously with aluminum foil. Tuck in lemon peel and a bay leaf, anoint generously with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then fold the aluminum foil to form a packet. Into a 350 degree oven until you can insert a knife in easily.
Let cool, then slide the skins off and let your imagination run wild. In a salad with toasted walnuts and goat’s cheese — beets and goat’s cheese adore each other — or blitzed with a spoonful of tahini and lots of lemon juice for a dip.
Here are some of our TABLE favorites, plus an Instagram must-make, to utilize your New Mexico farmers’ market bounty.
Story and Photography by Julia Platt Leonard
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