The Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth takes environmental preservation exceptionally seriously, whether it’s efforts to restore habitat for the endangered New England Cottontail, to plant butterfly gardens, or to heat the pool with solar panels. As part and parcel of that green outlook (and in keeping with longstanding and universal culinary tradition to keep kitchen costs down), chef Mitchell Kaldrovich of the inn’s Sea Glass Restaurant sources local produce and sustainable seafood and strives to use his groceries in their entirety. Lobster shells are used to make lobster ice cream and lobster oil (the latter is drizzled on bisque). Stale bread may find new life as toast, bread pudding or bread crumbs. Chickens are consumed from top to tail – the breasts make up entrées, the necks and bones go for stock, the liver for an amuse bouche. In this salad, Kaldrovich practicses what the inn has dubbed “root-to-stalk cooking,” using beet and carrot tops and fennel fronds, not just the usual vegetable parts. “The idea of this salad,” he says, “is we want to use the whole vegetable.”
Kaldrovich suggests you wear gloves to peel and julienne the beets, or you’ll have pink hands. A mandoline makes fast work of slicing the fennel. Save the fennel fronds for a nice aromatic and licorice-flavored garnish, Kaldrovich says, but don’t overdo it, or it they’ll overpower the salad.
Raw Beet and Broccoli Salad
2 medium beets, peeled and julienned, with leaves reserved
1 head broccoli, stems peeled and julienned, florets cut in small pieces
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 carrot, peeled and julienned, with carrot tops (leaves), chopped
1 cup whole young kale leaves or 1 cup thinly sliced Tuscan kale
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup Champagne or white balsamic vinegar
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Pinch of sugar or honey
Slice the younger, more tender beet leaves into fine strips. Strip the stems from the larger leaves and slice them fine (they have a nice earthy taste). Set aside the larger leaves for another dish – they need cooking as they are too chewy to eat raw. In a large bowl, combine the beets and leaves, broccoli stems and florets, fennel slices, julienned carrots and carrot tops, and kale.
Whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper, and sugar (or honey). Check the seasoning. The dressing may be made ahead and refrigerated for up to week. (Add mayonnaise or sour cream to create a more coleslaw-style dressing, if you like.)
Add the dressing to the vegetables a little at a time – remember that it’s always easy to add more dressing, but you can’t fix an overdressed salad. Garnish sparingly with chopped fennel fronds.