A few weeks ago, while reading through my cooking news feed, I found an informative video by Dani Spies of Clean & Delicious about beets.
She offered some great tips on how to select fresh beets, ways to prepare beets for cooking, and most importantly, I learned that you could eat beet greens! Seriously, I had no idea!
Up to that point I had always bought loose beets, and when I did buy them with the greens attached, I cut them off and threw them in my organic recycling.
Not only did I learn a new way to make the most of all the delicious parts of this healthy root veggie, but because I bought a whole bunch of fresh beets, I was able to try her recipe AND experiment, too. I created this beautiful aromatic summer salad as a result, which only takes about 15 minutes to make.
That week when I did my vegetable shopping I specifically followed Dani’s advice on how to choose fresh beets. The first think I did was to cook the beet greens during one of my bulk cooking sessions for the week.
I cooked the greens following a recipe for Swiss chard from Simply Recipes. You can, however, eat the beet stems since they are not as tough as Swiss chard. I separated the stems, cut them into about one inch pieces, and cooked them for a few minutes before adding the chopped leaves.
For some reason I have a low tolerance for cooked beets. I can eat a small amount, but if I eat too many my stomach bothers me. I prefer to eat them raw and usually have beets in my fridge to grate onto a large dinner salad. I usually use half of a large beet as one of the ingredients for two large salads. Their intense colour makes them a wonderful addition to any salad or meal.
Later in the week I came up with this beet carrot salad recipe by chance. We had eaten most of the meals I had cooked. I had some uncooked tilapia, which I pan fried, but I needed to make a side of vegetable.
In my fridge I had a large beet, lemons, an orange, some apples, and a bag of organic heirloom carrots. I decided to make a grated vegetable salad. I grated a yellow, orange, and purple carrot, as well as the beet and apple. These colours look great on their own, but once you mix all the ingredients together the beets will have dyed everything beet red.
You can use any type of carrots for this recipe. I had the organic heirloom carrots on hand, and for some reason I think they taste better than regular carrots. They also look amazing!
To make the salad naturally sweet I added the apple and the juice of one large orange. To flavour the salad I added cumin, Dijon mustard, sesame and olive oil, and raw organic apple cider vinegar. This turned out to be a great combination of flavours.
I would recommend making beets part of your “healthy fridge inventory.” I usually have beets in my crisper to use as needed. I’ve already mentioned just how healthy they are for you, but don’t take my word for it. Check out the links in the resources below for more than you may ever want to know about beets!
Beets do have a funny “side effect” on some people, which might be alarming if it’s your first time:
Beets, blackberries, and rhubarb can temporarily turn urine pink or red, which can be alarming, because it may be mistaken for blood. The pigment that gives beets their deep magenta color is stable only at certain levels of stomach acidity and is usually too faint to show up in most people’s urine. The phenomenon — dubbed “beeturia” — occurs in only about 10% to 14% of the population. Even if you’re in that select group, eating beets won’t always have a visible effect, because the acidity of your stomach (and therefore your urine) depends on when you ate and what else you ate. [Source]
Tips to save your fingers when grating beets
Once you have washed the beets and carrots cut off the root-end. Leave the tops (which is where the greens would have been). You will hold the top while you grate. Just slow down the closer you get to the top, to prevent slipping and cutting yourself.
If you want to double the number of servings for this recipe, you can certainly use a food processor with the blade attachment for grating.
1/2LargeOrangeA clementine or tangerine would add even more flavour
1tbspRaw Apple Cider VinegarI use Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar
2tbspExtra Virgin Olive Oil
1tbspDijon mustardA grainy mustard is best
1/4tspCeltic Sea Salt
1/2tspFresh Ground PepperOr to taste
Peel or clean the carrots with a vegetable scrub brush. Vigorously scrub the beet with the brush. Wash the apple, lemon and orange. Even though you're not eating the lemon or orange peel, you still need to wash it. If it's contaminated in any way, when you cut it your knife will transfer the bacteria to the fruit.
Grate the carrots and put into a large mixing bowl.
Grate the apple and put into the mixing bowl.
Grate the beet and add to the bowl.
Juice the lemon and orange. Add to the bowl.
Add all of the remaining ingredients to the bowl and gently toss until everything is thoroughly mixed.
You can serve immediately but the salad will taste much better if it marinates in the fridge for at least an hour. Toss the ingredients to distribute the liquid before serving.
How to Serve
Since the beets will "bleed" onto your plate I like to serve it in its own bowl with my meal. You can also use a lettuce leaf or a Romaine leaf to serve as a "cup". Find a nice leaf, wash well, and pat dry. Place it on your plate and spoon the salad onto the leaf. Add the remaining parts of your meal to the plate and viola!
You can use Dijon mustard, but the flavour and texture of the salad is better with a whole grain, or a coarsely ground style of mustard. This is also sometimes called, "old style" mustard. I recommend something like a Grey Poupon mustard or any specialty mustard.
You could top the salad with a quality feta cheese (a Balkan style made with goat's milk) or use a plain, soft goat cheese. Crumble the cheese on top of the salad when ready to serve. For presentation, don't mix the cheese in with the salad. It will take on the colour of the beets and get lost in the mix.
You can make the salad creamy by adding 1/4-1/2 cup of whole milk plain or Greek yogurt.