Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Beet, Red Onion & Tomato Salad

This is one of our favorite summer salads, all the better with beets and tomatoes freshly harvested from the garden.

The beets are the Chiogga variety, noteworthy for their concentric circles of red and gold when sliced open. We cook the beets in boiling water until just done, then move them to a cold water bath to arrest the cooking process. The tops and tails and the skin are all easily removed at that point. You can slice the beets into wedges, or very casually, however you prefer.

To make a dinner salad for two persons, slice 1/4 red onion very thinly and cut a ripe tomato into wedges. Add the beets and toss everything with extra-virgin olive oil and a splash of red wine vinegar. Season with course salt and pepper.

For a change, we added an herb, in this case several leaves of anise hyssop, chopped fine, plus some buds from the lavender-colored flowers that are now in bloom. You almost have to grow anise hyssop yourself--I've never seen it in the grocery--but it is a wonderful herb to have on hand, with its bright, almost sweet flavor of--as the name implies--anise.

You could also make this salad with a fine mustard vinaigrette. The vinaigrette would do well to bind all the flavors together and make an elegant presentation. Shallot could also substitute for the red onion and make for a more subtle flavoring. But for an easy everyday salad, we are happy with this very simple preparation, especially when the tomatoes are at their peak.

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