Most of us either grill on the 4th of July or we go to a party where grilled meat is the star of the show. Instead of the typical baked beans and slaw, why not serve a cool and refreshing salad? This one is colorful and makes good use of ingredients that can now be found in our metro farmers’ markets.
I liked the salad immediately, but thought a sprinkling of blue cheese chunks would improve it immeasurably. Fortunately, I had a hunk of blue cheese handy and added some. Bingo! I don’t usually think to pair avocado and beet together, but the creaminess of the avocado tasted great with the beets, the peas (I used fresh English peas) provided an additional texture, and the mint pulled all the flavors together.
This is an easy recipe to make, and beautiful to serve. (To my friends who are reading this, you can count on having it at my table sometime so you may want to refrain from making it for a while :))
For those who might be wondering what beetroot is, it’s just beets. This is from an English cookbook (see link below), and in England beets are more commonly referred to as beetroot.
Enjoy and Happy 4th!
I love to make this dish in the summer because I have all the ingredients on hand in our garden. And, unlike some of the beet greens you find in the grocery, when beets are just pulled from the dirt the greens are usually unblemished.
This is such an easy recipe (see below for the link). Roast the beets, peel off the skins and cut into bite sized chunks. (For instructions on how to roast beets, refer to a previous post on the subject.) While the beets are roasting, whisk the dressing and chop or julienne the mint and basil.
Once the beets are prepared, toss them with the dressing and herbs and let sit in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
While the beets are in the fridge, I quickly wilt the greens and stems in a saute pan that has a thin film of olive oil. I then squeeze out any extra moisture and chop them into rough pieces.
Pull the bowl of beets out of the refrigerator and throw in the beet greens. Toss it all together with some crumbled feta and sprinkle with some basil leaves.
You’ve got a vibrant and delicious salad that will go with anything. Throw a piece of meat or fish on the grill, and you don’t need much else. You could even put a spoonful of the beet mixture over grilled salmon for a knockout entree.
Recently my niece, author of Season with Reason, posted a recipe for beet and carrot soup that looked stunning. At the time, we still had an abundance of both vegetables in our garden and this seemed like the perfect way to use them.
The soup is easy, vibrant, healthful and delicious. Each bite alternated flavors: one spoonful tasted like carrot, the next beet. Ginger lingered but wasn’t overpowering. I wasn’t a huge fan of the yogurt–the dollop looked pretty floating on top of the soup, but it diluted the intensity…for some that might be a good thing, but I loved the soup in its purest state.
Beets are still plentiful at farmer’s markets and in stores. Be sure to use the purple ones–orange or candy-striped Chioggias won’t make as pretty of a picture.
Beet season is upon us and will last through early fall. Take advantage of the various stripes and colors at farmers’ markets, they are more flavorful and luscious than their winter counterparts.
Many people aren’t sure how to cook or what to do with beets once they’ve bought them. I usually roast mine at 350 degrees for an hour, wrapped in tin foil and drizzled with a touch of olive oil and salt. I recently made a beet and burrata crostini, which was fabulous and incredibly simple. You’ll wow your friends with it.
Beets are also terrific in salads. Toss with greens or arugula, an orange or balsamic vinaigrette, blue cheese chunks, and some marcona almonds or pistachios.
I often hear people say they don’t like beets. I didn’t think I did either, based on childhood memories of ones that came in a can. But roasting fresh beets, recently dug out of the ground, changed my perception, and I suspect it may change yours as well.
I love beets. I know they aren’t everyone’s favorite, but people who wrinkle their noses at the mention of this root vegetable are often thinking of the canned beets of our childhood. I didn’t like those either. But fresh beets have a very different flavor than the canned variety.
Here’s my primer on roasting beets to enjoy in a salad.
Scrub each beet to get the dirt off. Cut the stems and leaves (keeping the leaves to saute if you like). You can leave the beets whole, or cut in uniform sizes for even cooking. Place them in tin foil, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with fresh salt and pepper. Wrap tightly and put in a 400 oven for 40-45 minutes, until the beets can be easily pierced with a fork. Once out of the oven, leave the foil package open to allow the beets to cool.
Now for the time consuming part. Don some gloves to keep your fingers from staining, or use a fork to hold each beet in place while you peel the skins with a knife. If the beets have been cooked long enough, the skins should come right off with minimal scraping.
Red beets are the only ones that stain, the yellow, orange and striped varieties do not, so keep that in mind if you care. If you wash your hands right away, the juice should come off your hands without any problem. In any case, it will go away eventually!
Once the beets are skinned, you can slice or cube them into bite-size peices. Then toss them with mixed greens, goat or blue cheese, almonds or pistachios, and a sherry or balsamic vinaigrette, and you’ve got a stunning and tasty salad.