Hello Everyone! I'm Lissa's cousin Dorothy, and I'm doing a little guest spot on her food glorious food blog for your viewing (and cooking?) pleasure today. I've been thinking of starting my own foodie blog and my sweet cous' generously donated her space for me test the waters, so here we go!
Today we are making "Edie Beets Salad," which is named in honor of my parents' cat Edie Beats, the Small, Mean Thing. The reason its not "Easy Beet Salad" is because, while it is easy, there are a lot of little steps, and is a wee bit time consuming so I like to make a big batch of everything and store it in the fridge so I can easily assemble it throughout the week.
Beet salads are especially abundant in the summer and fall on Martha's Vineyard, MA, where I'm originally from, and I spent a lot of time in my early(er) 20s during and after college working in several cafes and restaurants that served them, all different varieties. This recipe takes a little something from the best and leaves out things I'm not wild about like... lettuce or raw baby spinach - don't get me wrong I adore almost all fruits and vegetables, but for some reason salad greens I could take or leave. I've been known to order greek salad on a bed of baby sprouts instead of its traditional Romaine. So we're leaving salad greens out of this, but by all means, add 'em if you want 'em! Beets are nature's candy, and they are one of the most nutritious vegetables you can put in your body. They are especially good for cleansing your blood and detoxifying your liver, which makes this the perfect dish to kick-start any new years resolutions to lose any excess holiday wobble (which I personally need to do - I'm tall and fine-boned and that means any extra weight hangs on my frame in all the unflattering places and its worn out its welcome thankyouverymuch. But I digress. This salad is healthy, filling, and satisfyingly sweet and savory. All food should be this good).
The goods: makes approximately 4-5 servings as an entree and twice that as a side salad:
1 small bunch of chives, chopped
1 pickled red onion (recipe follows)
sweet red onion vinegarette (ditto)
1 can of mandarin oranges, drained
sweet and spicy candied walnuts (recipe follows, or you could just use regular walnuts, almonds, whatever you have, i bet sunflower seeds would be good in this too. Use your imagination!)
goat cheese (or feta, gorganzola, bleu... any crumbled cheese would work, they're all good and you won't be using more than a tablespoon at a time)
freshly ground black pepper to taste
the first deal:
Rinse and trim any greens and tails from the beets (don't peel them yet! you'll do this when they're done steaming, you don't want to lose the nutrients from the skins). Place in a large pot and fill with water 3/4s of the way up the beets:
Bring water to a boil, then simmer until beets are soft when gently poked with a fork, 45 minutes to an hour, depending on size. check the water level occasionally to make sure it hasn't all boiled off (this happens quicker than you might think!). Add water as needed.
While the beets are steaming, make your pickled red onion:
more goods: adapted from a Bobby Flay recipe for Creamy Potato Salad with Pickled Red Onions on foodnetwork.com
1 red onion
1 bottle of Red Star red wine vinegar (save the bottle, you'll use it as a vessel to hold the dressing)
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground mustard, or mustard seeds
2 tablespoons olive oil
the second deal:
Quarter and slice the onion 1/4 inch thick slices
combine vinegar, salt, sugar, and mustard together in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, whisking constantly, about 1 minute until sugar and salt are completely dissolved. Remove from heat. Add onion slices, submerge, cover, and put in the fridge for an hour (or put it outside on a cold winter's day - I should point out that I'm writing this from upstate NY, where we are having a rather Southern, mild winter this year).
At the end of the hour, remove the onion slices to their own container, and reserve the liquid in the vinegar bottle, adding 2 tablespoons of olive oil. This will be your dressing for the salad.
While the onions are pickling, check on water level for the beets, and then make the sweet and spicy walnuts:
even more goods: makes 2 cups of candied nuts
2 cups walnuts
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
the third deal:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blanch the walnuts in boiling water 1-2 minutes. While nuts are blanching combine sugar, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper in a medium sized bowl. Drain the nuts and immediately combine with sugar mixture until fully coated. Evenly spread on a cookie sheet lightly coated in cooking spray:
...and bake for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until nuts are golden brown. Be careful near the end, powdered sugar can burn quickly! Remove from oven:
...stir the nuts to prevent sticking, cool, and store in an air tight container.
the final deal: assembling the fruits of your labor :)
Check the beets with a fork to test tenderness. When the tines of the fork slide in the beet gently, without any effort, they are done:
Reserve the beet juice if you like (I'm still trying to figure out what to do with it, its just too gorgeous to pour down the drain! side note: I'm thinking of making beet juice ice cubes for summertime lemonade) Rinse with cool water, and peel the beets - the skin will slide off easily with the slightest pressure from your fingertips, you probably won't need to use a veggie peeler (unless you've used organic beets which have a slightly tougher skin. Don't let this deter you from organic, its worth breaking out the peeler if need be, they tend to be a little smaller and sweeter than the average grocery store variety).
Cube the beets, and store in an air tight container:
time to assemble!
for 1 entree
throw a handful or so of beets in a bowl:
top with 1-2 tablespoons of chives:
add the pickled onion:
dress with sweet red onion vinegarette and toss together:
top with 1 tablespoon of goat cheese:
sprinkle with candied nuts and season with freshly ground black pepper:
Thanks for reading, and Thank you, Lissa for letting me in on your wonderful blog! I'm off to start my own!
Happy New Year!