I have been dreaming up a salad in my head for a while. I mentioned it to Chef Lij and he was willing to go on the wild side with me. In fact, he encouraged it and took my very rough idea and refined it into this salad that was so winter-meet-spring-fresh that we had to fight hard to restrain ourselves in the tasting sessions.
As a child, the only way my mother could get me to have beets is as a juice with another vegetable. As far as I was concerned, beets tasted like dirt. So, beets were never big on my agenda. I grew to tolerate a pickled beet salad in some 20 years later, but I found the same old recipe replicated in several different buffets. I got bored again. It wasn’t until I got married to a man who was excited to work with what I considered balls of red dirt, that I began to give beets the respect they are due. Packed with the wonderful goodness of nature, beets are more versatile than we think. We recently made Beet Oatmeal to add some variety to colourless beige oatmeal and sneak some more nutrition. Here is our newest recipe that we have developed that will make you a lover of that red ball of earth.
Ingredients: 1 small beet for every apple, apple cider vinegar, light olive oil, ground allspice, salt and pepper, fresh mint.
After washing and drying beets, use a paring knife and pierce holes all over each beet. Remember to snip off the little rough part that was attached to the leaves.
Rub whole unpeeled beets with oil, salt, pepper and ground allspice. Cover in foil and place in the oven at 130C until cooked. The knife will pierce without resistance when cooked. Cooking time will vary according to the amount of beets you are roasting. 500g/1lb of beets should roast in 30mins-45mins.
Allow beets to coo then peel. But feel free to peel them hot if you have fingers of steel.
Dice them into small squares
Slice apples in round, then stack the rounds to julienne into long strips. Slice those strips in the opposite direction to dice.
Add about 1 Tbsp apple cider per apple used in the recipe to the apples in a bowl.
Combine the beets. Add about 1 tsp of oil per apple used in the recipe. Tear a few mint leaves and combine. Add the mint sparingly because you do not want it to overpower the other flavours. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss again. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs and serve.
CHEF’S NOTE: This is a great side salad for a barbecue and can be made ahead of time. One of the major mistakes we make with beets is that we boil them. Yes they cook quicker, but when boiled, you lose the sweetness of the dates and the texture changes as it gets water-logged. Refrain from boiling beets unless you are simply using them in a purée. Roasting them in the oven is a better alternative though it is more time-consuming. However, If you want to convert your family into beet lovers, it is worth the wait!
Next post, another great beet recipe that will make you walk past those canned pickled beets in the supermarket forever!