‘Florescent fuchsia’ would be a great name for this salad. The sweet pink and purple juices of berries and beets brighten a winter meal and recall us to the tastes of summer. And their florescent colors nearly scream healthy nutrients.
A little ode to the beauty of the beet… Often underestimated, the beet is many things—an early and hearty grower, edible from root to leaf, beautiful and versatile. And if you believe that color content really does indicate vitamin content, then the beet is at the top of the list for nutritional value.
It takes winter for me to cultivate a desire for pickled items. The palate matches the season in that sprightly pickled beets compliment winter main dishes, often heavy with starch or fats. Beets from the summer garden were preserved for just such a salad at this time (canning recipe below).
The work involved with pickling beets is truly worth the effort. The vegetable is good shredded raw on salads or roasted in the oven, however, the pickling process adds sugar and spice to the benefit of the beet. I tried this recipe with oven roasted beets and it was good, but not nearly what it can be when the veggie is pickled.
Preserved, the beets in this pickling recipe are seasoned to perfection, through and through. A jar can be pulled for topping salads, as a vegetable side for just about any meat dish, or eaten as a coveted appetizer.
~ Blueberry-Beet Winter Salad ~
1 large head spinach, washed and torn
1 pint jar pickled beets, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups blueberries
3/4 cup roasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup feta cheese (I use Sunny Pine Farm chèvre feta)
fresh ground pepper to taste
1 recipe Sherry Vinaigrette (optional, recipe below)
~NOTE: If you are using pickled beets, I find a dressing unnecessary to this salad; alternatively, if you are roasting the beets, the sherry vinaigrette or another similar dressing is required.
~The presentation of this salad is best plated individually, so begin with beds of spinach.
~Combine chopped beets and blueberries in a bowl and set aside; roast walnuts and chop.
~Assemble salads by topping each spinach bed with approximately 1/2 cup beet and blueberry mixture; sprinkle with nuts and cheese; dress with vinaigrette or not as desired and serve.
Yield: about 6 servings
~ Sweet & Spicy Pickled Beets ~
10-12 medium sized beets, or 4 pounds
3 cups onions, sliced long and thin
3 sticks cinnamon, broken
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoons sea salt (to taste)
1 Tablespoon allspice, whole
1 teaspoon cloves, whole
2 1/2 cups cider vinegar
3 cups water
4 cayenne peppers, whole and preferably fresh
4 cloves garlic
~Wash beets and trim stems and roots to about 2 inches (this will allow easy skin removal); boil in water until tender, remove and drain; when cool enough to handle, remove peel and trim ends if necessary.
~Combine remaining ingredients, besides peppers and garlic, in a large sauce pot and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
~Add beets and simmer until heated throughout; remove cinnamon sticks.
~Using sanitary, hot pint jars, add one garlic clove and one cayenne pepper to each; pack beets into jars and ladle hot liquid over beets, leaving 1/4 inch headspace; remove air bubbles and adjust two-piece caps; process in boiling water canner for 30 minutes.
Yield: 4 pints
If canning or pickling doesn’t suit your fancy, simply roast the beets on 400 degrees for about 25 minutes and make up a sweet vinaigrette. I love working with sherry as it seems to pick up flavor complexities in a wide variety of foods. You may easily substitute other vinegars.
1 shallot, finely minced
1-2 cloves garlic to taste, finely minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup sherry vinegar
~ Carefully sauté shallots in 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil until transparent and just beginning to brown; remove from heat and cool.
~Combine shallots, garlic, vinegar and mustard with whisk or food processor; emulsion is the key to a good vinaigrette, so proceed slowly with olive oil, pouring in a steady, small stream while mixing until smooth (it is far easier to use a food processor for this step); add salt and pepper to taste and serve.
Yield: about 1 1/2 cups
The Beet as Food Coloring
One of the niftiest uses for beets is as a natural food coloring. For those attempting to avoid synthetic food coloring (often containing unnatural or toxic chemicals), the beet is the ticket. Simply slice the root into chunks, cover with water, and simmer down the liquid into a thick, fuchsia sauce.
This natural food coloring is virtually tasteless and is great added to frostings or desert sauces on special occasions. My daughter knows it well as her signature birthday cake coloring.
Love from our kitchen to yours! Georgina @ Caramelize Life