Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Remember beets? The only person in my family who liked them when I was growing up was my mother. She ate them out of a jar and probably does to this day. Pickled purple disks in a jar were a major food gross-out to us kids and to my dad, who eats almost anything.
It's a shame I missed out on all those good beet-eating years because now I have discovered how wonderful this low-calorie, folate-filled vegetable can be. If the thought of eating beets makes you squirm, you might want to give them another shot by buying them fresh and roasting them in the oven. It brings out their sweetness. I really like them this way, as does my previously beet-hating sister.
My neighbor's mom, a delightful Brazilian grandma and fellow beet lover, shared with me another preparation that's delicious. She boils them in sugar, vinegar and water, slices them and stores them in the fridge in their cooking liquid. They keep for quite a while that way. Watch for that recipe in a future beety post.
The aforementioned Neely concoction is one of my all-time favorite salads. It paid to watch those two fawning all over each other the day they made this dish. So simple that I never had to look up the recipe, it's addictive due to its balance of bitter and sweet flavors and crunchy and tender textures. I am not listing measurements because you can add as much or as little of each ingredient as you prefer.
Bunch of arugula
Red onion, sliced
Roasted beet, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
Pecans, toasted and chopped
Goat cheese, crumbled
Toss together the first five ingredients, then splash with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Note: A colorful medley of ingredients, this salad is pretty served in a glass bowl. Take the time to toast the pecans (or walnuts). It adds more nutty flavor and only takes 5 minutes in a dry, medium-hot skillet. I know this step must be important because the judges on one of the food competition shows looked incredulous and then glared at one of the chefs in utter disdain when he said he didn't toast the nuts in his recipe. Uh-oh. I don't know whether he got chopped or had to pack his knives and go, but it was one of the two and his nuts were then toasted. (Sorry. I can't help myself. I'll stop now.)