The hedgerows along the fields and roads near my house are especially beautiful now. Rose hips glow red and orange, the last of the blackberries, dark purple, past ripe, mix with sprays of white snowberries, and the foliage of the berry vines and all the other deciduous shrubs offer shades shifting from red into purple, yellow into gold, orange into brown. On morning walks I look forward to one particular stretch of hedgerow where vibrant red and yellow leaves stand out against darker vines, berries and bits of still-green foliage. I considered picking some of these leaves to decorate the table but then realized that with just a little more effort I could recreate these colors in a salad.
The autumn kitchen garden offers much the same palate as the hedgerow. In the garden basket, red, orange, and white beets next to purple, yellow, white and orange carrots matched the hedgerow colors that had inspired me. Leeks and kale would provide the contrasting green.
I peeled the beets and cut them into half-to-one-inch cubes, peeled the carrots and cut them into two-to-three-inch strips, spread both on sheet pans, coated them thinly with olive oil and roasted them at 425 degrees until they were tender but not too soft, about twenty minutes. I cut the leeks into ¼ inch dice, tossed them in olive oil and roasted them until they were golden and starting to crisp, about fifteen minutes.
While the vegetables were roasting, I made a simple kale salad, tearing the leaves into bite-sized pieces, rubbing them with olive oil and salt then adding lemon and some grated Pecorino Romano cheese.
When the vegetables were done and slightly cooled, I tossed the roasted leeks with the kale and then arranged the colorful carrots and beets on top. Another squeeze of lemon just before serving completed this beautiful hedgerow-inspired salad. I’ll be making this autumn salad again even after the hedgerow foliage fades.