Sunday, February 5, 2012

Beets are Best!

This winter I have been reveling in beets, those sweet earthy vegetables with the fabulous color, great flavour, and many uses. I've used them in soups, salads, and cakes. I've grated them, puréed them, quartered and diced them.

You can often buy them already cooked, and even diced, which is handy, but I also buy them raw and roast them.

I especially like them paired with slightly bitter greens like kale or chard. I've served this warm winter salad a couple of times now, and love the colours and flavours.

Warm Winter Salad with Beet Root and Sweet Potato

I adapted this recipe from Discover Kale UK. I've only been able to get Cavolo Nero (black kale) once or twice, but it also works with ordinary kale. In fact, I think any bitter green leafy vegetable could be used. Just adjust the cooking times accordingly. The original recipe calls for a tablespoon of honey, but the vegetables, orange, and vinegar make it sweet enough.

3 fresh medium beets (or aprox. 200 grams)
1 medium sweet potato
300g Cavolo Nero, shredded
1 orange
2 tablespoons walnut oil (or olive oil)
1.5-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (or sweet fruit vinegar, optimally mixed with white wine vinegar)
salt and pepper
100 feta cheese, crumbled

  1. Roast the beets and sweet potato until tender in a medium oven. The sweet potato will likely be done after about 25 minutes, but the beets tend to take longer—45-60 minutes, depending on their size.   
  2. Once cooled, peel the roasted vegetables and cut into wedges or 1 inch blocks. You can do this up to a day in advance. Just reheat the vegetables in a microwave or at least let them come up to room temperature before using in the salad.
  3. While the vegetables are roasting, peel and segment the orange, freeing the segments from their skin, if possible. (It never is for me, so I segment and dice them.) Reserve any excess juice that comes free, or crush a few segments to produce some juice.
  4. Whisk the orange juice, oil and vinegar together, and season with salt and pepper to taste. I used some syrupy fig vinegar diluted with white wine vinegar.
  5. Boil the kale for 6-8 minutes and drain. 
  6. Toss the Cavolo Nero, beets, sweet potato, and orange segments together with the dressing.
  7. Crumble the feta over the salad and serve while still warm.

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