Another result of my busier schedule is my need for simpler foods. Sometimes that means convenience (and eating out), but I’m trying really hard to take advantage of all the wonderful produce happening now and arriving soon. I’m also trying hard to not let working two jobs make me forget to take care of myself – I’ve been very good at the relaxing part in my free time, but a little less so on the food front. Which is funny, considering both of my jobs involve food. Heaps and heaps of food. My partner recently told me I was spending so much time making food for other people I stopped making food for us. That really resonated with me, and I’ve been making a better effort to remember I need to nourish myself if I want to continue nourishing others.
Which brings us to beets – an underappreciated vegetable in my experience. Beets are a great source of iron and folate, and I think they really exemplify the idea that a lot of foods resemble the part of the body they’re good for, with deep red beets being a great vegetable to strengthen your blood (the non-red kind are good for you too!). They’re delicious roasted, juiced, or grated in salads, and you can eat the whole plant, from root to leaves.
I’ve missed out on Ricki and Kim’s first two SOS Kitchen Challenges because of my new schedule, but I certainly had them in mind when I was putting these two dishes together. The spinach certainly plays the minor role of a bed for the beets, but I did buy it on purpose in addition to just loving it as a salad green .
First up, a tangy, kicking fresh ginger-balsamic marinade coating pretty, raw beet matchsticks atop a simple salad (I opted for spinach, radicchio, and walnuts) and garnished with fresh basil. Then I made use of the beet greens in a simple slaw seasoned with caraway, inspired by some recent homemade tempeh reubens. Both are quick and easy, plus you get some bonus dressing from the first recipe (for an easier blending experience)! If you aren’t a fan of raw beets, boil or roast yours first and use the dressing anyway – it’s yummy.
This makes a great salad topping or side dish. I’ve made the dressing in a larger amount than you’ll need for the recipe to make blending easier, but feel free to reduce it if you decide to grate or mince your ginger instead of blending it.
a large chunk of fresh ginger (I really like ginger, mine was almost 2 inches)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 medium beets, peeled
2-3 salad servings
fresh basil, minced or chiffonaded, to garnish
If you don’t have a powerful blender, you may want to chop your ginger into smaller pieces or grate it to make sure it gets blended well. Combine the ginger, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper in a blender and process until smooth and emulsified. Set aside.
To make “matchsticks” out of your beets (they’ll be a bit longer than matchsticks to be entirely truthful), I find it’s easiest to slice the beets thinly lengthwise, then stack a few of the slices on the cutting board and cut them crosswise into thin pieces. You could also use a mandoline, or simply shred the beets. Toss the beets with enough marinade to coat and let rest while you prepare your salad (or if you’re serving it as a side, let it sit 10 or so minutes first).
Top salad greens with marinated beets and garnish with fresh basil.
My partner especially loved this slaw – I think she, too, had fond memories of our recent reubens. If you’ve bought enough beet greens you don’t necessarily need the cabbage, but it helps add bulk to the salad (I only had one bunch’s worth of greens myself). It would also look gorgeous with a combination of red and green cabbage!
Beet Green Slaw
makes about 6 cups
6 cups beet greens and cabbage, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-2 cloves garlic
a few grinds of fresh black pepper
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions or onions
Place the greens in a medium bowl. Blend the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, garlic, caraway, salt and pepper until emulsified. Pour over the greens and add the onions, tossing to coat evenly. Tastes best when the flavors are left to mingle.