Bite into a crisp summer salad with these recipes.


On a recent trip to my neighborhood farmers’ market, I saw a woman carrying a bundle of deep purple beets tucked between her forearm and bicep. The beet greens were strikingly healthy, bigger than both palms of my hands and such a beautiful bright-green color with vibrant pink veins. It was at this moment when I had a craving for one of my most favorite summer dishes, a raw beet salad with julienned beet greens, sprinkles of goat cheese, diced walnuts, and a homemade orange vinaigrette. Simple and delicious.

Red beet



It’s crunchy in texture, and the sweetness of the beets plays well against the creaminess and richness of the goat cheese (I enjoy Laura Chenel’s chèvre). It’s a refreshing way to welcome the Sacramento area’s hot temperatures at a friendly barbecue. I complimented the woman’s purchase and shared my recipe with her, explaining how I rinse the beets and shave off their rough skins before cutting the root vegetable into matchsticks and tossing them with the other ingredients. She was elated and grateful and said, “I like simple recipes.”

Who doesn’t? In the spirit of summer, enjoy my take on these simple salad recipes that make use of Sacramento’s farm-to-fork bounty.

All recipes courtesy of Steph Rodriguez, journalist and home cook, in Sacramento.

Berry and Spinach Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

(Serves 4 to 6)


1 bundle fresh spinach leaves from your local farmers’ market

½ basket strawberries, raspberries, or blackberries

½ cup gorgonzola or blue cheese crumbles

½ cup pecans or almonds, diced

For the dressing:

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon minced garlic

½ teaspoon kosher sea salt

½ teaspoon cracked black pepper

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons local honey

Rinse and pat the spinach dry, de-stem the leaves, and chop into desired size. Remove leaves from strawberries and slice thinly. Roughly chop desired nuts. Combine spinach, berries, cheese, and nuts in a large bowl and crumble desired cheese. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, honey, garlic, and olive oil until a creamy consistency is reached. Toss the dressing and the salad together, and enjoy!

Raw Summer Beet Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

(Serves 4 to 6)

1 bunch red beets, about 4 total, cut into matchsticks

4 beet leaves, julienned

Goat cheese crumbles (Laura Chenel chèvre recommended)

Walnuts, roughly chopped

For the dressing:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon orange zest

Juice of 1 orange (about 2 tablespoons)

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Pinch kosher sea salt

Pinch cracked black pepper

In a large bowl, combine the beets, beet greens, walnuts, and goat cheese crumbles. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil, orange zest, orange juice, vinegar, salt, and pepper until well incorporated. Toss the dressing and salad together and bite right in.

Classic Cucumber, Tomato, and Mozzarella Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette

(Serves 4 to 6)

Cucumber tomato

1 basket cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered

1 medium cucumber, quartered

½ cup red onion, thinly sliced

¼ cup fresh mozzarella, diced

For the dressing:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Pinch kosher sea salt

Pinch cracked black pepper

In a large bowl, combine cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, and diced mozzarella. In a separate bowl, whisk olive oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Combine the dressing with the chopped ingredients and serve chilled. If desired, throw in a few sprigs of mint for more flavor.

Tri-Color Carrot Salad with Curry Dressing

(Serves 4 to 6)

Rainbow carrots 2

1 pound purple, yellow, and orange carrots

¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

Pinch kosher sea salt

Pinch cracked black pepper

For the dressing:

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

4 teaspoons honey

1 teaspoon curry powder

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Pinch kosher sea salt

Pinch cracked black pepper

Rinse the carrots and destem each. In a large bowl, using a vegetable peeler, shave each carrot until ribbons form and fall into the bowl. Toss in parsley, salt, and pepper to taste. In a separate mixing bowl, combine balsamic vinegar, rice vinegar, honey, curry powder, Dijon mustard, sea salt, and pepper to taste. Whisk the dressing ingredients together until a creamy consistency is reached. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until well incorporated. Serve chilled.