Welcome to Beet Week! Not as exciting as Shark Week, but maybe just as messy.
So my friend and reader, Charlie, wants to know if beets a) always take SO long to cook, and b) always make THAT much of a mess.
It’s true. Beets are going to make you work for them. And I’ll show you how to do that over several posts this week, but first, I’m going to cheat just a little, and show you beets at their easiest:
I love anything pickled and beets are no exception. I had actually purchased these before I knew what our featured ingredient would be, thinking I’d so enjoy them in salads. Serendipity! Now I can share with you a super quick, very delicious salad recipe that makes use of easy pickled beets.
Recipe #1: Salad with Pickled Beets, Candied Walnuts, Granny Smiths and Gorgonzola
Goat cheese seems to be everyone’s favorite soft, strong-tasting cheese to pair with beets, and there is a good reason for that, as they are indeed a harmonious marriage. But I don’t want to wear out the goat’s welcome (having already featured it with zucchini, and also planning its return this week), so I opted for gorgonzola and thought the combination was also excellent.
This, by the way, is what beets look like out of the jar:
Compared to the mess that will come later, these were far less stainy and hard to manage. I diced them up into fairly uniform pieces for the salad, sneaking a bite or two. The pickling is such a nice contrast to the earthy sweetness of the beet. Just the right vinegar bite.
I knew that I wanted walnuts in my salad, but decided at the last minute that what I really wanted was candied walnuts. These are so easy to make. Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat and add a 1/2 of walnuts. Toast them for a few minutes, shaking the pan to make sure they don’t burn. Now it gets a little trickier, but only because you have to work quickly. Sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of sugar over the walnuts. Keep stirring the whole time to coat the nuts. As soon as the sugar is melted and begins to get liquidy, you want to take them out of the pan and spread them out on a a lightly greased cookie sheet or parchment paper to cool, separating them as best you can as you do that. Otherwise you’ll have candied walnut clusters, which really, there could be worse things. Sprinkle a little sea salt on top.
Once they’re cool, you can break them apart easily.
To assemble the salad, put some nice greens into a bowl with the beets, 1/2 of a diced Granny Smith apple (or other tart, crisp variety), a handful of walnuts and some crumbled gorgonzola. Salt and pepper on top of that. I am fairly lazy when it comes to dressing my salads, and I rarely actually make a vinaigrette. Instead, I drizzle a little olive oil and then a little balsamic vinegar (or lemon juice for some salads) and then toss it all up. Nobody has complained so far.
We ate this with burgers from the grill and it tasted like the perfect bridge between summer and fall.
Are you having a hard time letting go of light, fresh summertime foods or are you already racing to get your crock pot set up for fall chilis and stews?