This salad was adapted and (we think) improved from several recipes to incorporate more veggies and use a trusted pesto of ours. While it is best made with vegetables and herbs you've just picked from the garden, it can also be enjoyed year round as a refreshing side dish, starter, or a light meal.
Using a variety of different colours and techniques for dicing your tomatoes, cucumbers and beets creates a more visually appealing and interesting salad so that part is up to you to get creative with.
Note: The pesto used here is thicker and less oily than a traditional store-bought pesto and works perfectly with this salad. You can use store-bought pesto in a pinch but the result won't be quite the same.
For the pesto:
2 cups lightly packed radish leaves
2 cloves garlic
3 1/2 tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped
3 to 4 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 cup blanched whole almonds
3⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
1⁄2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
3⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄2 cup freshly grated parmesan
For the salad:
Tomatoes (mix of roma, beefsteak, green tomatoes, tomatillos, or whatever else you have/enjoy)
Beets (mix of golden, red, and candy cane)
Yellow onion (optional)
(portion size for this recipe is up to you because it can easily be adapted to serve smaller or larger groups. The pesto makes enough for approximately 4 salads but depending on how much you put on, it will cover more or less. Making more is not a bad idea because it keeps great in the fridge and freezes well too)
1. Scrub outside of beets and boil in salted water until a paring knife can be easily inserted and skin starts to "peel" off. Drain and immediately rinse with cold water, remove skin, and set aside to cool.
2. Put the radish leaves, garlic, oregano, lemon juice, almonds, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes in a food processor and pulse to form a coarse purée. With the motor running, pour in the olive oil and process until smooth. Add the cheese and pulse a few more times. Taste and add more salt or pepper if you like. Set aside until ready to use.
3. Slice onion (if using) into thick rings and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Grill on a preheated barbeque until softened and lightly charred. Set aside to cool.
4. Slice and dice tomatoes, beets, and cucumbers into rings, wedges, cubes, strips, or whatever else you feel like creating and begin putting them on a plate. Layer with colours in mind to create contrast and depth. Top with slices of bocconcini, torn basil leaves, pesto, and sprinkle with chia seeds to finish.