Alternate Title: The Recipe That Made Me Like Beets
I will be the first to admit that I have never been a fan of beets. Growing up, we would occasionally have pickled beets in the house (I remember being told they were one of my grandpa’s favorites). We also grew them in our garden, and I can remember my mom making them occasionally (though usually she would pickle them). Over the years, I’ve tried them at various times – some places will put a slice or two on your salad when they bring it out, and occasionally they’ll show up roasted with other root veggies. But they always had an overly “earthy” taste to me. Actually, more accurately, they always made me consider what consuming a dirt clod would taste like. The only thing I really ever had liked about beets were the greens.
So, you can imagine my lack of enthusiasm when our CSA newsletter listed beets as one of the items in our share this past Thursday. I am not going to turn down anything that is part of our weekly share (with exception of wheat and similar gluten-containing grains if they come up), and I enjoy the challenge of finding ways to try to use as much of the plant we receive as possible (even if it just means chopping up the greens in a big salad). So I wasn’t going to turn down the beets – I just wasn’t sure what I was going to use them for. Until I showed up to pick up the CSA share…
The Washington State University Extension Food $ense group was set up with an information display and some samples of a recipe they had for Carrot Beet Slaw. So I grabbed a sample dish and a scoop of the salad and give it a try. And it was excellent. As soon as I got home, I set out to make a batch for dinner (and leftovers for lunch the next day).
- 1/2 lb fresh beets, peeled and shredded (I don’t know if it is because these are younger, smaller beets, but they didn’t have the “dirt” taste I’ve always tasted in the past)
- 1/2 lb carrots, shredded (you can peel them too if you like)
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp Frank’s Red Hot (or other cayenne pepper sauce)
Start out peeling and grating the beets and the carrots. Do this with a box grater, and into a bowl or container that will completely contain any bits that try to escape. Beet juice stains. Wear old clothes, an apron, a Tyvek paint suit, and maybe some industrial rubber gloves. Use one of those plexiglass quarantine boxes with the glove arm-holes in the side if you have one. Otherwise consider building a plastic bio-hazard containment bubble in your kitchen (like the one in E.T.). Because, if you are anything like me, no matter how careful you are, this stuff will still jump out of the bowl and get on something (or everything). You’ve been warned.
In a small prep bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, mustard, and pepper sauce. Whisk well, then pour into the bowl with the shredded veggies.
Transfer the bowl back into the containment bubble (in case you had removed it). Toss to coat the beets and carrots with the dressing. Cover and chill for at least thirty minutes before serving.
In the original recipe file (linked below), the Food $ense group have a list of optional add-ins to try. I’ve got to say that the addition of grated ginger sounds incredible to me (I love ginger). I would use the same box grater for a coarser texture, and would probably use about a 1-1/2 inch piece for the recipe size listed above.
Another suggestion in the original recipe is to serve on fresh leaves, and they show the slaw served in what looks like Belgian endive. This would make for a great appetizer – a spoonful or two of the slaw dished into Belgian endive “boats” and arranged on a platter for casual snacking. Just be sure to warn your guests to wear old clothes or a bib!