I Got Beeten

Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a severe aversion to beets. This aversion started at a salad bar when I was a kid. I thought this pretty red food was something sweet and when I bit into it, I was very very shocked to taste that strange vinegary earthy flavor. That was my first and last time eating beets for many many years. In culinary school, we cooked a ton of recipes containing beets. I found out those dastardly things were considered “delicacies” and could be found in most fine dining establishments. So I would cook them, but I refused to eat them. Now, I’m not a namby pamby when it comes to trying food. I’ve eaten almost anything you can think of, from frog legs to alligator to most (edible) internal organs found in a cow.

Last month when we had lunch at Novecento, I really wanted the salad that had some of my favorite things… arugula, blue cheese, tomatoes… and beets. I hate to be “that person” in a restaurant that gets food special ordered, especially in fine dining. So I ordered it… with the beets. I started eating the arugula and other goodies, and then ate one brunoise sized cube of beet. It wasn’t bad. Actually, it was quite good. Just like that… my relationship with beets has changed. I’ve made them at home several times now, and I’m glad its opened up a whole new color for me! Clearly I eat with my eyes first, so color is important to me! This salad is a bouquet of color with amazing organic veggies from Josh’s Organic Market on Hollywood Beach.

Roasted Beet Salad Recipe

3 small beets, around 1 pound
olive oil
champagne vinegar (or other type)
2 c arugula
1 c baby spinach
8-12 cherry tomatoes
cheese (blue, goat, feta… etc)
1/4 c nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans)
pumpkin seed oil (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Scrub and then pierce each beat several times with the tip of a sharp knife. Wrap each beet in a piece of aluminum foil and roast for 45 minutes to an hour, or until tender. Let cool about 30 minutes and then peel by rubbing off the skins under running water.

2. Dice the beets into cubes. Add a little salt, pepper, olive oil and vinegar to the beets (to taste) and let sit for at least a half hour. If you have pumpkin seed oil, add a few drops of it to the beets.

3. Place the arugula and baby spinach in a bowl and toss with a little olive oil. vinegar, salt and pepper. You can also use prepared vinaigrette, but I prefer to keep it simple. Arrange the greens, tomatoes, cheese, nuts and beets on the plate and give an extra drizzle of olive oil.

Makes 2 servings as a dinner salad, or 4 as a side salad.