Don’t get me wrong. I like beets. I like them a great deal. But in order for me to like them a great deal, I have to do a great deal to them. The classic American sugary pickled beets leave me as cold as they are. I like borscht better than pickled beets (and have a bottle of concentrate from Poland to prove it), but better still is a recipe that downplays the sugar beet’s historical significance as a sugar fix.
Deprive a sugar beet of its will to go all sticky and sweet on you, and you will have the flashing flavors of vinegar, garlic and herbs having their way with what I consider the earthiest vegetable around. Raw beets smell like dirt and they taste like dirt. I’m convinced the beet’s tap root is as curled as a rat’s tail in order to anchor it in the soil; it’s not going to be dug and pulled up without a fight.
Once a beet is harvested, it doesn’t want to loose its characteristic rankness, either. The golden heirloom beets I purchased were so filthy that it took several changes of water and a good scrub to make them presentable for this recipe. Yet when they were boiled and dressed in a simple, but delicately complex sauce, they were ready to star on my best French porcelain plates. How exactly this transformation comes to pass, I will never know. Beats me.
Yellow Beets with Walnuts - Loosely adapted from Epicurious
4-6 small-medium yellow beets, well-scrubbed and washed, greens cut off for another use
2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 tablespoons red wine or other robust vinegar
4 tablespoons chopped scallions, whites only
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
Scant handful broken walnut meats, toasted in a skillet for approximately 10 minutes
Salt and Pepper
Cover beets and garlic cloves in water in a large saucepan. Boil until beets are tender, about 40 minutes (microwave directions in original Epicurious recipe above). Remove vegetables from saucepan and set them aside to cool. When cool, squeeze garlic cloves out of their skins, then mash them in a bowl with the back of a spoon. Add olive oil and vinegar, mixing well.
Peel beets and slice into rounds about ¼ inch thick. Arrange beet slices on small plates, spooning garlic dressing over them. Divide and scatter the scallions, cilantro and walnuts over each plate, finishing lightly with salt and pepper.
Serves 2 as a salad or side. --
This post is being submitted to Pat of Up a Creek Without a Patl, who is hosting Weekend Herb Blogging for Kalyn Denny of Kalyn's Kitchen, creator of the Weekend Herb Blogging event.