10 reasons to love september PLUS beet, watermelon and feta salad

I love the summer and always feel a little sad as fall approaches but September is also – a very close second to – my favourite month.

Here are the top 10 reasons I love September….

#1 Visiting friends and family for the last long weekend of the summer

#2 I can’t explain it (and anyone who doesn’t know this about me would probably find it a little out of character;) but I love the Canadian International Air Show that comes to town every Labour Day. The Snowbirds send a wave of patriotism through me that can actually give me shivers. Canada is an amazing place to be!

#3 Cool nights and warm sunny days

#4 Local produce at its peak

#5 Canning the local produce and planning for winter

#6 *Anticipating* settling into routine after the craziness of summer
*see #10*

#7 There is a fresh smell in the air that I almost forget exist during the heat of the summer. The first time I smell it its like a blanket of good memories wrapping around me.

#8 Driving in the country with the windows down 

#9 Unpacking my wool sweater and fall jeans and remembering how much I really love them.

#10 – Finally September is birthday month. Like most families, my family has this stretch in the year where birthdays cluster. In my family September is the epi-center of that cluster. From August 19 to November 11 we have birthdays for three of  four sister (including yours truly), my niece, my daughter, my brother in-law, my step-Mum, my mother in-law, my god son and my husband (that’s almost half of my immediate family) plus its my Dad and step-Mums wedding anniversary. It’s hectic but I can’t complain about too many parties!

The last several years my birthday has been low key. I remember an epic dolce de leche cheese cake that my sister inadvertently ordered large enough to feed forty when only three of us where eating it (it froze surprisingly well;). I have also never forgotten this beet and watermelon salad which I had on my birthday three years ago while I was 8 months pregnant. It was the last supper out that my husband and I shared as a couple before our new adventure in parenting.

The salad I had was created by Dustin Gallagher the chef at Grace Restaurant – a local favourite. More recently Dustin was one of the – well deserved – final four in Top Chef Canada. This is my enterpretation of Dustin’s Salad:

Ingredients:
3 small multi-coloured heirloom beets
Extra Virgin First Cold Pressed Olive Oil
1 cup of watermelon – cut in small cubes
60 grams of feta cheese – crumbled
Zest of 1 lemon
Small handful of fresh mint

Method:

Roast the beets by trimming the long hairs and greens, placing them on a sheet of tinfoil, drizzling with olive oil and folding the foil so the beets are completely enveloped.
(You can roast all of the beets in one package but I prefer to separate the purple so the colour doesn’t bleed onto lighter coloured beets.) Roast in preheated oven at 375 degrees. Check them after 25 minutes and continue until they are just soft to the touch. After cooking let the beets cool and the skin should easily peel off. You may need to use a pairing knife to get some of the tougher skin off. Cut two of the beets into rounds and the last one in cubes slightly smaller than the watermelon.

Toss the cubed watermelon and beets with the feta cheese. Plate the beet rounds and place the watermelon mixture on top. Sprinkle the lemon zest, julienned mint and salt. Finally drizzle with a small amount of olive oil.

A delicious addition to this salad is crushed pistachio.

Serves 2

What do you love about September?

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