How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Thursday, July 19, 2012

We Got the Beet

The Go Go's always had the beet! The Rockefeller Center version confirms that these young ladies are part of our generation.

Readers of this blog might already know that beets are among our biggest local-food challenges. We try to eat all of our vegetables, but the icky texture and the aggressive blandness seem to dominate anything we prepare with beets. Once again, kitchen goddess Deborah Madison came to our rescue, with a green salad based on her "Grated Beet Salad with Cumin" (itself a variation of another salad on page 155 of Vegetarian Cooking for All).

I started by preparing the lime-cumin vinaigrette (p 185), a complex and savory sauce whose flavor could not be beeten. I began by mashing one garlic clove (from our Cochester Neighborhood Farm share) with 1/8t salt in our small mortar. Then I combined this with the zest of two limes and the juice of one lime (reserving a little straight lime juice for the chef!), 2T chopped scallions (also farm box) and half a chopped jalapeño. Then I toasted 1t cumin seeds in a dry cast-iron skillet (Madison calls for 1/2t each of cumin and coriander, but I could not find the latter). I cleaned out the mortar in order to crush the toasted seeds, and mixed them in, then whisked in 1/4t dry mustard and 1/3 cup olive oil (completely forgetting that I could have used jalapeño oil from L.O.V.E. --- more on that in a future post).

Now for the star of this salad, which we improved by demoting it to a supporting role. The recipe calls for one pound of beets -- I knew we did not have that much, but I used all we had, which was four or five small beets. I peeled and shredded them (again, see last year's gratin post for shredder details) and blanched them in boiling salt water (that is, I put them in only for a minute). I then drained, blotted, and sieved them so that I would not have a wet mess. At this point, we realized that -- for the first time in our lives -- we did not have enough beets! We were actually sharing this salad with friends, so Pam had the brilliant idea of combining it with cucumbers and greens -- also from this week's farm share -- before applying the lime-cumin concoction.

The result was actually delicious -- the greens solved the texture problem and the vinaigrette provided more flavor than even beets could absorb.

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