The Pistachio Festival in Aegina island ended last night, in sort of an anticlimactic way. Once it was over, so was summer. I was dancing at the main stage along with friends, tourists, children, their grandparents, local politicians, bar owners, and festival volunteers. And then the band said goodnight, the wind suddenly grew strong, and people said goodbye. Today it is raining, and us locals are the only ones left at the cafés.
As a final tribute to the pistachio, here is a dish that’s as suitable for summer as it is for fall. The mint and lime makes it as fresh as a summertime mojito, and the beets give it the heartiness you want from any winter food.
- 4 medium red beets, trimmed
- 4 oranges
- 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
- olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- a handful of fresh mint leaves
- a handful of peeled, roasted and salted, Aegina island pistachios
- Wash your beets and place them in a baking dish. Fill the dish with about 1/3 inch of water, cover it with aluminum foil, and bake in a 400 degree F (200 degree C) oven for about an hour, or until the beets are fork tender. Let the beets cool to room temperature.
- Cut the peel off the oranges using a sharp knife. Fillet two of the oranges and slice the other two crosswise. Reserve all the spilled juices, squeezing the membranes from the filleted oranges to get all the juices out.
- Peel the beets and cut them as you like. Slice some, and chop some.
- Toss the beets and the orange segments and slices with the lemon and lime juice.
- Arrange the salad on a large platter or individual plates. Pour some of the orange juices over the top. Drizzle with olive oil, and top with salt and pepper, mint leaves, and Aegina pistachios.