Today's salad, day 19 as I spend this month tasting my way through fresh ways to liven up my dinners, is one of my most favourite recipes, one I have been making for many years now. It's one I can put together quite easily when away visiting, and one I can easily make for potlucks, but it is one I like to make time and again for my family. It is one all three of us like, and one that tastes even better the longer it sits. Today's star of the show: YE ALL MIGHTY BEET. Not only do these tasty morsels colour your mouth (which leads to countless jokes and pranks about bloody mouths and horrible things) they are superstars when it comes to liver support. The liver, see, she does something like 500 jobs in the body. She works hard for the money, honey. The liver is a key contributor to metabolism and the manufacturing of hormones, it's certainly our biggest filter organ that works hard to detoxify and disassemble spent hormones and metabolic waste from our cells; the liver also makes bile and stores glycogen, vitamins and minerals and on and on she goes. Choosing foods that best support the liver then will improve just about every aspect of our body's function, so beet it up, kids!
I grew up in a house with a steady stream of fresh veggies all summer long, as half our big back yard was covered in garden, and more gardens were planted and cared for at our farm in Quebec, and later at our cottage in Northern Ontario. Beets, green beans and peas were regulars on our summer supper tables; they still are when we are lucky enough to go back for a visit in the summer time! Oh my parents' gardens are a thing of beauty. I think of them every time I make this salad. This is loosely based on an epicurious recipe I found a long time ago; follow the link to the original recipe at the end of the post.
To start, I drop about 6 beets (scrubbed, not peeled) in a big enough pot that comes with a tight fitting lid, drop about 4 ice cubes' worth of meat stock in the bottom to give a bit of moisture as the beets roast in the oven at 425F for about an hour or an hour and a quarter, until they are cooked through. Instead of stock, you could use water. (Whenever I make a batch of meat stock, I save some of it in ice cube trays and tuck them in a plastic bag to keep in the freezer once they're frozen; it's a great thing to have on hand for a quick veg braise, or if I want to melt a few to make a cup of stock to drink, or thin a sauce, what have you.) Once they are cooked, take them out and let cool until ok to handle. At this point, peel your beets and trim the tail and tops, and cut into bite-sized chunks.
While you wait for the beets to cool, assemble the dressing:
a full shallot, minced
2 tbsp lemon juice
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/4 cup good quality olive oil
I blitzed all of this in my mini food chopper, expressly made for dressings like this one. I tweaked to adjust the flavours. The original recipe calls for goat cheese, and I didn't have any on hand today, so I used instead a thickened kefir that was now like a cream-cheese consistency, and added in some chopped chives and parsley from the garden, and a crushed garlic clove. Once the beets were cooled enough, I tossed them with the dressing and the cheese, and because it was still a bit warmer the cheese ended up blending right in. I must say it's quite exquisite with goat cheese added when the veggies are completely cooled; the white chunks of cheese add a visual effect that was missed here. (After all, we do eat with our eyes first, yes?) I didn't mind today's version though. I threw in about 3 tbsp of soaked and dehydrated pistachios, and that was it. Sublime, when served alongside our Veggie Burgers and fresh hand-made perogies from Lethbridge's Saucy Ladies for my two honeys, it was the perfect way to ring in the official first day of summer in this here household. This could be my most favourite salad recipe. You just might want to try it.