Monday, April 17, 2006

Creamy Beet Salad

I get pretty indignant on the behalf of beets. Why do so many people (i.e. Americans) dislike them? I suspect it's because many Americans have never had a properly made beet dish. Trendy beet salads where you roast and slice a beet and pour on some citrus-based dressing? Eh.

Beets deserve better. In Russian cooking, you never just eat a chunk of beet. Beets are always grated and combined with other ingredients. In fact, beets, like eggplants, are one of those vegetables that are so-so on their own but really shine with other flavors.

This salad is one of the better things you can do with beets. It's easy, it's light and it tastes like spring. Even P., my meat-and-potatoes boyfriend, said so.

You can roast beets at 375 for an hour, but I simply boil them, like potatoes. Bring some water to a boil, put one small or medium trimmed beet in the pan and simmer until the beet is tender and is easily pierced with a knife--45 minutes to an hour. Let it cool. (I cooked my beet the night before and it was nicely chilled when I was ready to work with it the next day.)

Grate the beet into a salad bowl. Add the following, finely chopped: 1 small, peeled cucumber; 1-2 scallions; 1 hardboiled egg; 1-2 good dill pickles; and a handful of fresh dill. Some finely diced red onion wouldn't be amiss if you aren't using the scallions.

For the dressing, I used a combo of a little olive oil, lemon juice, plain yogurt, sour cream, mayo, salt and pepper. You can use just mayo and yogurt or mayo and lemon juice or sour cream and yogurt, etc. Just make sure you have something creamy rich and nicely tart. I think 2 or 3 tablespoons of dressing is enough; eyeball it.

The end result is sweet and sour and fresh. Beets, sugary sweet. Pickles, sour. Cukes, scallions and dill, fresh. Mayo, sweet. Yogurt, sour...

3 comments:

The Jeff Next Door said...

Yulinka,

Not to quibble, but beets can be divine with just a touch of flavor added. A favorite trick of mine is to roast them in foil (skins on) with shallots. When they're tender, remove the skins, slice, and serve with a dab of olive oil, fresh pepper, and salt.

Your recipe sounds quite nice, though -- as a beet fan, I need to try it. Beets are a great way to add color to those winter meals.

Yulinka said...

Jeff,

One of these days I'll make beets your way. I'm not really a fan of minimalist beets, but who knows? I might change my mind...

Anna said...

My grandma makes a beet and prune salad. Can't say that I'm a huge fan of beets, but that salad I even eat a few spoonfuls. I bet if I added crunch via pecans and eased up on the dressing, it would be more to my liking. Hmmm.... ideas, ideas...

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