Thursday, June 30, 2011

FFwD: Chunky Beets and Icy Red Onions

Beets. Onions. Beets and onions. Of all the beautiful recipes in Around My French Table, French Fridays With Dorie wants me to eat beets and onions???

This was the refrain looping through my thoughts all week, especially as I trudged through the aisles at the supermarket and bought my beets (I couldn't buy one beet, per my minimalist plan; they were grouped in threes. Grrrr.), my onion, and my sherry vinegar. I wasn't going to bother with buying a special vinegar, and just use something else, but the row had a dollar-off coupon waiting for me, so it only cost a buck. Figured it was worth the dollar if it bore any chance of making beets taste good.Of course, once I poured it, I realized that I'd bought sherry cooking wine. It was in with the vinegars. Is that the same? Probably not. To adjust things, I added half the sherry cooking wine, and half red wine vinegar.

My history with beets is not a good one. My earliest exposure to them was straight from the can, at my grandmother's house. Yuck.

I gave them another chance a few years ago. I'd bought a subscription in a CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture), where you buy a share of a farm's yield and pick up a bag of fresh-as-can-be fruits and veg every week. When they were in season, I wound up with some beets. I followed some recipe for them--I don't even remember what it was--and they seemed okay for about five minutes, while they were still warm. Once they cooled off, I couldn't swallow them. Matt wouldn't eat them, either. After that one try, the rest of my beet supply went to waste. I did love dying my hands and half the kitchen red, though. That was fun. (I'm not joking. I love a mischievous mess.)

Needless to say, the fact that Chunky Beets and Icy Red Onions (pg 123) is a recipe for cold beets made me even less enthusiastic about this week's selection.

I boiled my beets, crossing my fingers and spinning for good luck to keep my pot from permanently staining red. Boiled and peeled, I cut them into chunks and mixed them up in the vinaigrette of Dijon, honey, sherry vinegar, and olive oil. Then, into the fridge to get cold. Sigh.

The instructions say to thinly slice a red onion and swish it around in cold water to remove the bitterness. Drain, then refill the bowl with water and ice and stick it in the fridge until ready to serve. I don't know what this step was supposed to do. My onions were still QUITE potent.

I followed the Bonne Idee in the sidebar, because I felt like more ingredients could only improve things. So, I mixed halved cherry tomatoes and fresh oregano into the beets, then dumped them on arugula. I topped the beets with the drained onions and goat cheese.
Beets and onions aren't so bad, after all.
I'm woman enough to admit when I'm wrong, and I'm delighted to say that Dorie has changed my mind on beets. This salad was actually good! WHAT? Didn't see that coming. ha! The tangy goat cheese worked so nicely with the sweet beet. I thoroughly enjoyed eating this, except for the onions. I'd grill them next time. They were waaaay too strong. A friend invited me to join her book club, so tonight is the first meeting I'll attend. I'm pretty sure that I won't be making any friends with breath like this. Holy moly. I wouldn't talk to me.

Conclusion: Liked it. I ate three whole beets all by myself. I'm growing as a person.


  1. Eileen if you can buy fresh beets, esp. golden beets, don't boil them- roast them. try this sometime- just wash/scrub them, toss them with coarse salt, plenty of olive oil to coat them, and the pan generously, fresh ground pepper and 2 diced garlic cloves in a baking pan. bake@350º for about 30 mins- pierce with fork and when fork goes in easily they are done. You can just pull off the skins once cooled- no beet juice, no mess, and really great beets for salad. Add plenty of chopped parsley ,a TB or so of dijon mustard, a good squirt of lemon juice and you will have the makings of a really classic french beet salad- add diced avocado and/or endive and goat cheese and it is even finer. The dijon mustard, fresh parsley,garlic and roasted beets mix together so well- perfect flavor combo and low fat too.

  2. I am impressed that you gave beets another chance despite your history with them. I just couldn't get past mine. Kudos for sticking with this week's recipe!

  3. Good for you for trying something you thought you would not like! I love beets so I was probably one of the few actually looking forward to this one. So happy that you like it. I think sometimes our dislikes have more to do with how the vegetable is prepared than the actual vegetable itself. For example, I still don't like plain boiled brussel sprouts, but love them roasted.

  4. Yup, definitely didn't see that one coming. What a fun read! I'm glad this salad changed your mind about beets. :)

  5. I'm the opposite of you, I actual prefer the beets cold. Warm beets kind of creep me out! I should have used the bonne idee, because beets and onions by themselves are kind of boring. As for the mess, I roasted my beets, and there was still a very red mess to contend with!!

  6. Loved your post! I'm a newbie to beets and truth be told, I didn't even bother making the recipe when I first got some. I roasted my beets and laughed at my pink tongue and fingers!

  7. ok here's one way to tame the beet mess- roast in a double ( or triple foil) lined pan with lots of olive oil , garlic, salt, then dice or slice in the pan once cooled.

  8. Very funny. I still have moments of terror inspired by the canned beets with cold butter from my childhood years. Seriously (as in, you can't leave the table until you eat them - shudders).
    Glad you worked through it and enjoyed!