Wednesday, July 16, 2008

First Beet

A friend came over to talk about teaching food to kids and just to make an impression on the virtues of root vegetables I went out to the garden to see if I couldn't find a beet ready to harvest.

Well, the beets are farther along than I thought. I pulled up a beauty--big and heavy and perfectly formed. I didn't put it on the scale, but I'm guessing it weighed close to a pound.

I couldn't think of a better end for it than our favorite beet, tomato and red onion salad. Prepare your beets in the usual way. Give it a good cleaning. Remove the stems. (I sauteed the greens for a snack. They are delicious.) Either roast the beets slowly in the oven, or cook them in a pot of water. I use a metal trussing skewer to test for doneness. When the skewer pierces the beet easily, it's done.

Set the cooked beets aside to cool. At that point, the skin should slide off very easily. Depending on the size, I usually cut the beets into bite-size wedges. Mix in a bowl with ripe tomato, also cut into wedges, and red onion cut into thin strips. I used our own puny red onions from the garden for this. Add a green herb. I like chives for this, but I think mint or even anise hyssop would work as well. Then toss with some extra-virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar. I also like the idea of a different red-fruited vinegar, such as raspberry vinegar.

Season with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Our beet salad made an easy, cool summer dinner paired with a leftover corn salad from the fridge. When vegetables are this fresh, there's no reason to eat anything else.

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