27.11.12

Winter salads, part II (beets)


On with the winter salads, then. Everything I said in the other post about shredded cabbage goes just as well with red cabbage, of course, but also with carrots, and with celeriac if you like it (I don't, very much) and even with parsnips, if they're small.

All of those are things that keep for ages, so there's no reason not to have at least one or two around. But they do spoil, eventually. Vacuum packed beets, on the other hand, are something you can count on having around when you come back from holiday, or have forgotten to go shopping, or whatever smallish crisis hits.
The problem with beets is that many people don't like beets, which may be one of the reasons why those packets are always there. My own J, who eats anything and everything and has never been known to complain, is not enthusiastic about beetroot. But he is being brought round, because  It really is delicious, as long as you take a little care.

First, don't be shy with the salt. No silly stuff now. It's the ready made foods that hide the nasty salts. If you don't salt it well you won't be able to eat it, and will miss out on all those nutrients.
Likewise, vinegar is a must, and it's better be strong. Beets are usually called earthy but what people mean is that they often taste like ducking your head in a muddy puddle. And we want to avoid that.

Also, slice them thin. Mandoline or food processor thin. No grated beets, they are horrible.

Add carrots, or apple, or orange segments, or a few shreds of cabbage, for contrast of colour. They'll go bright pink, which is the whole point of eating beets, really.
Also, some herbs, parsley, or chives, or both.  And a finely chopped dill pickle too.
The dressing must be vinegary and oily and have a spoonful of horseradish.
And for great effect, you should scatter something crunchy on top, like chopped nuts or toasted pumpkin seeds. It's a cooked vegetable, after all, so the interesting texture must come from somewhere else.

I love this as is, but if you add smoked mackerel, and serve it alongside rye bread, with cold sweet butter and caraway seeds, you have yourself a beauty. Vodka optional, cold beer if not.

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