RUBY RED BEETS
I love beets but I hate the mess they leave behind. I usually have to lay plastic on my counter and get out my plastic gloves otherwise the skin on my hands stay stained red for days! If I am ever in a crunch I will simply grate them raw or use golden beets instead but the deep red ones are my favourite.
Growing up, my mom always told me they were good for cleansing the blood. I thought it was an old wives tale until I looked into it. It turns out beets have many health benefits. According to one site, bbcgoodfood.com, they help fight inflammation, lower blood pressure and are great for detoxifying. There are plenty of websites describing these health benefits and beets are becoming more common in grocery stores and households. Maybe the Ukranians knew all about the goodness of beets when they created borscht.
In my family, we have always served up a simple beet salad. Once boiled, we slice up the beets and marinate them in a vinaigrette. They keep for days and the vinegar preserves the lovely red of the beets. The thin slices give them a delicate texture and beets are naturally a bit sweet so it is almost like a sweet and tart salad.
They do take some time to prepare. Cut off the stems if there are any (which, if fresh, can also be cooked. . .try this basic recipe from all recipes. . .it is a good one for the beet greens but also kale or even swiss chard) but leave the skin and place the beets in a deep pot filled with water to cover them. There is a theory that adding vinegar to the water will prevent the beets from bleeding but I have tested this out and bleeding is inevitable. Don’t worry when the colour of the water changes.
Bring them to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the beets and let them be for about 45 minutes to an hour. The long, narrower ones I chose are cylinder beets which I opted for because of the rounds I would get for the slices. If you are using different beets than this, they may be thicker and will require a bit more time. You can turn off the heat at this point, drain the water and rinse them under cold water or let them cool naturally.
Once they are cooled, prepare your hands and your kitchen. With rubber gloves, use a knife to peel the skin from the beets. This will be easy to do since they were boiled. You then have the option to cut the beets in chunks, or as I prefer, in slices. Add some olive oil and vinegar and season with salt and pepper and you have a nice beet salad base. This will keep for several days and you can eat them as is or dress them up.
I find crumbling some goat cheese on them pairs nicely with the beets. Also, I have been on a bit of a nut kick and so I sprinkle some crushed and toasted pecans or walnuts on top. Thinly sliced red onion would also be a very nice addition if you like onions. If you choose, you can even use a combination of red and golden beets but keep in mind that whatever the red beets touch will change colour so you will need to cook up the different types separately and carefully layer them when serving. Tossing them all together will simply turn everything a shade of red.
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper
150 g (1 package) goat cheese
1/4 C coarsley chopped, toasted pecans
1. Add scrubbed beets to a large pot of water.
2. Bring to a boil.
3. Lower temperature, cover and simmer for an hour.
4. Remove beets from water and let cool.
5. Peel and slice beets to about 1/2 cm thickness.
6. Toss slices in olive oil and vinegar.
7. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
8. When ready to serve, arrange beets on a plate.
9. Sprinkle beets with goat cheese and pecans.