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FreshTartSteph Recipe: Grilled Watermelon Salad with Cherry Tomatoes & Charred Beets


I got clocked on the head by an acorn last night during my after-dinner walk. Ouch! And not because it actually hurt, but because of what the acorn was telling me: "Summer is winding down and September is almost here, my dear." Aw, shucks.

But not shucks! Because September is the best food month of the year, when food events celebrating the bounty of the season beckon at every golden turn. Like on September 23, when Jason DeRusha and I invite you to join us at Farm in the Cities at Solera Restaurant in Minneapolis. Meet and chat with local farmers and producers, then sit down to a stunning meal prepared by 12 of your favorite local chefs. Proceeds from the dinner will benefit Youth Farm and Market Project, which builds youth leadership through planting, growing, preparing, and selling food.

This year's event will be the second for Farm in the Cities, founded by farmer Maurice Smith of Dragsmith Farm with the help of chef Jorge Guzman of Solera Restaurant. Smith and Guzman pulled together a terrific dinner on the fly last year, with the goal of gathering several farmers and chefs to chat about local and sustainable food with the community, while raising money for charity. Bonus: A seriously fabulous meal emerged, paired with beautiful wines, in a relaxed setting with plenty of opportunity to make new friends.

To purchase tickets, or to volunteer to set up or serve food, check out the Farm in the Cities Facebook page. We hope to see you there!

Grilled Watermelon Salad with Cherry Tomatoes & Charred Beets

Jorge Guzman, executive chef at Solera Restaurant
Serves 4

3 medium beets
12 cherry tomatoes
2 1/2-inch thick slices seedless watermelon, cut into 8 pieces
2 Tbsp. pepper jelly
2 Tbsp. goat cheese
handful pea shoots or microgreens
coarse sea salt olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven 350 degrees. Preheat grill.

Wrap beets individually in foil. Set on a baking sheet and roast in oven for 1 hour. Unwrap beets and cool to room temperature. Peel and quarter beets.

Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Drop tomatoes into boiling water for 30 seconds, then quickly drain and rinse with cold water. Slip the skins off the tomatoes, leaving tomatoes whole.

Brush watermelon pieces with pepper jelly. Set pieces jelly-side down on hot grill for 2 minutes, or until lightly charred. At the same time, set beet quarters on grill for 2 minutes.

To serve salad, place two slices of watermelon on each plate. Top with grilled beets and tomatoes. Scatter goat cheese and pea shoots over the salad, then drizzle with sherry vinaigrette. Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper and serve immediately.

Sherry Vinaigrette
2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
2 Tbsp. minced shallots
5 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Whisk together ingredients in a small bowl. Store leftover vinaigrette in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

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