Ricotta with summer vegetables

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2 beets, well-scrubbed and quartered (reserve edible greens for another recipe)
2 cups white wine
2 tablespoons pink peppercorns
4 bay leaves
3 garlic cloves, smashed with the back of a knife
1 cup champagne vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
4 cups water, divided
4 whole strawberries, hulled
1 cup ricotta
¼ cup heavy cream
6 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 medium cucumber, shaved into thin slices with a vegetable peeler
2 medium radishes, remove tops and shaved into thin slices with a vegetable peeler
Purslane sprigs and leaves, for garnish
Olive oil, for garnish


1. In a saucepan, add beets, white wine, pink peppercorns, bay leaves, garlic cloves and poach on low heat for 25 minutes, or until the beets are tender when pierced with a knife blade. Set aside.
2. In another small saucepan, heat vinegar, sugar and 2 cups water until boiling. Remove the mixture from the heat and submerge the strawberries in the hot liquid and allow to cool slightly.
3. In a medium mixing bowl filled with 2 cups ice water, stir in remaining 4 tablespoons salt, add shaved cucumbers and radishes and chill in refrigerator for 10 minutes until crisp.
4. Whip the ricotta with cream, remaining 2 tablespoons kosher salt and lemon zest until well combined.
5. To serve, spread ricotta evenly on a plate. Distribute warm poached beets and strawberries over with some poaching liquid. Garnish with chilled cucumber and radish shavings, purslane leaves and a drizzle of oil. Eat with a spoon or use pita bread, lavash, crostini or any other bread of your choosing.
Recipe by Bryan Zachery Sparks, executive chef of Broadway Bistro


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