Something—a robin, maybe? a ghost?—ate every last green plum in the middle of the night. They are gone from the tree out back without a trace—no flesh, no pits, not so much on the ground as a twig.
Inside, the fridge is full: corn in its husk, fresh bluefish, arugula, broccoli. I can't concentrate on cooking—where are those plums? who stole them from me?—but I turn on the oven without thinking, then decide to roast the basket of beets.
When they come out—steaming, piping hot—I trim them, skin them, slice them into half tears, orange and ruddy. I husk the corn and cut the kernels from the cob; it's so sticky, milky when it's this sweet. I tear a handful of basil and arugula and toss them in a salad bowl, then squeeze a lime in, and a bit of vinegar, and olive oil. The corn and the beets go on top, still hot enough to fog up my face. I toss everything and then add a pinch of salt—mourn the plums and sit down to eat.
ROASTED BEET, CORN, AND BASIL SALAD
This salad is as simple as it is good. If you prefer your corn cooked, go ahead, but at this time of year, I eat mine straight from the cob, raw and milky. With the addition of cheese and a good slice of toast, this easily makes a meal.
4 ears corn
1 cup packed basil leaves
1 cup packed arugula leaves, torn
juice of 1 lime
1-2 tablespoons white vinegar (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan, for shaving
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place the beets—scrubbed but with about an inch of their top greens and their tails still on—on a baking sheet, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, and cover with tinfoil. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour, or until tender when pierced with a fork.
Husk the corn and cut the kernels from the cob. Put the kernels in a large bowl with the basil and arugula. When the beets have cooled down enough that you can handle them, cut off the tops and tails and peel off the skin. Then cut the beets in half, and then into thin half moon slices the way you would an apple. Add the beets to the bowl with the corn and greens.
Squeeze the lime juice over the vegetables and drizzle the salad with olive oil. Toss well, and taste for acid and oil. If you think it needs more acid, add the white vinegar one tablespoon at a time, tasting after each addition. If you think it needs more oil, drizzle with a bit more olive oil. (How much you add of both are really a matter of personal taste.) Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve while the beets are still warm, with shaved Parmesan over top.