Wednesday, July 7, 2010

syrian beet salad

So while there are many wonderful things about having a food co-op share, it can be a bit rough at times. The amount of vegetables can be simply overwhelming, and all too often something beautiful and fresh wilts and rots before you can use it. Very sad. This is even more likely to happen if the veggie in question is not something you are particularly familiar with or even like. For instance, neither Laura nor Nathan nor I can ever seem to muster up any enthusiasm for beets. I don't hate them, but they're just not something I generally cook with. I have no idea what to do with them.

Luckily, beets can stay for months in the refrigerator and reemerge little worse for the wear. Last season, I honestly did my best with the beets. I pickled them, I made borchst, I roasted them with sage for Thanksgiving dinner... but by the time winter rolled around, I was burnt out on beets. While I don't dislike them, persay, they really do very little for me, and I was flat out of ideas and inspiration. Judging by the fact that we've had two big bags of them in the crisper since at least February, I think it's safe to say that Laura feels the same way. My apologies to Dwight Schrute, but I think I've had enough of nature's candy.

However, with the summer CSA season now in full swing, I started to feel pretty bad about the winter veggies taking up room in the fridge, and resolved to remedy the situation. Enter A Bushel of What?, a fabulous blog detailing one woman's attempts to use up all the strange produce she gets from her food co-op. It's interesting reading, it's got good recipes, and she's got plenty ideas for using stuff like beets and kale, vegetables that generally stump me. Basically, it's a god send.

One of the recipes Nicole posted was for a Syrian beet salad. I liked the idea of jazzing up with beets with cilantro and scallion, and I had gotten both of those in my summer share, so I was excited to try it.

syrian beet salad

I halved my beets, (they were tiny), and boiled them for ten minutes. Then I peeled them simply by pushing at the now-softened skin with my fingertips. I smashed up a small clove of garlic, sliced up half a scallion, and chopped up my cilantro. I tossed all this with salt, pepper, olive oil and a generous squeeze of lemon juice. As instructed, I let this sit for a half an hour so that the flavors would meld.

It was good, but it still didn't blow me away. I was happy to taste the bolder flavors of the lemon, garlic, scallions and cilantro, but the beets were still a little bland. I suppose it could be that they were so old, but I think it's also just a matter of personal taste. Beets, in my opinion, are just alright. I doubt I'll ever be a true beet enthusiast. That being said, if you are, then you should give this recipe a shot. It's definitely an unusual and tasty take on the vegetable.


  1. Oh man, I don't know if we can still be friends- beets are probably my favorite veg!

    Since I don't have a fridge, the way I stored my winter root veggies was by burying them in sand. They keep for 4-5 months and maintain their vitamins and freshness better than in a crisper.

    If you've still got some left over, try making beet chips or cutting them into thick slabs and grilling them. Those are my favorite ways of eating beets that don't involve roasting, borscht, or salads.

  2. Well I'm sold, time to go find some sand and put beets away.

  3. Hi, and thanks for the blog/recipe/name shout-out. I am a BEET LOVER and proud of it! I'm pretty sure beets from February are not the freshest, so maybe you should start with some new ones? Were they still firm (if yes, you have one amazing crisper)? If you ate a ton of beets last year, you probably know that beets + chevre = awesome. Add some pine nuts and dried cranberries, throw them over some greens, toss with olive oil and balsamic v and you're golden.
    -Best, Nicole from A Bushel of What
    P.S. I just posted a new beet recipe. :)

  4. Yes they were still firm, for the most part. I got more beets this week and last week from the CSA, and since I don't have a desert to bury them in, I will try to use them in a more timely fashion, haha. I love goat cheese, so I will have to give that a shot!