Saturday, December 26, 2009

Beets and greens salad with mint, almonds and lemon

Last few weeks have been a sweet overdose for me.. You know what I mean, right? Cakes and cookies and chocolates and truffles and sweet breads: you name it and this holiday season I have ate it! Since I am one of those minority people who are low on a sweet-tooth, a sweet overdose of this magnitude is likely to take me off sweets for a while.. or may be just for a few days, we'll see, depends on how hard the box of cookies and chocolates sitting on my dining table stares at me (like that Geico add where the money stares at people!) :D

Anyway, today morning I just wanted to eat a simple and light lunch to make up for all the desserts that I have had last few weeks (and particularly yesterday!). I looked in the pantry and saw a bunch of golden and red beets that I had bought from farmer's market last week. I instantly thought of my favorite beet salad! I started making this recipe a year or so ago; the origin of which comes from one of my most treasured cookbooks "Vegetarian cooking for everyone" by Deborah Madison. This is a great book and I'll highly recommend it to anyone who cooks or wants to cook simple vegetarian foods most of the time (no ties with Amazon). I refer to this book not so much for the ready to go recipes but more for the information about a vegetable, like its flavors, how to store, methods of cooking, ideal pairings etc. The book is particularly good in describing flavor pairings for vegetables and seasonings. I guess I use this more as a reference cookbook where I get an idea of a recipe and then eventually make my own version of it. That being told, the book does have excellent recipes too :)


Very recently I figured out that beet greens are perfectly edible (through the same cookbook)! So I am kind of a beet green novice. I use soft baby beet leaves as raw salad greens and mature leaves as steamed or blanched. These is a lot more interesting information about beet greens here; like how in pre-historic times people used to only eat beet greens and discard the beets(!) and to think about all those times that I was just discarding these healthy greens (my forefathers are sure not to be happy with me)!! I would like to use more of these greens in my diet..so I am wondering Do you use beet greens? Do you know of any other way to prepare these delicious and healthy beet greens?

Anyway without further ado here is a roasted beet salad with mint, almonds and lemon:
Source: adapter from beet salad recipe of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison
Ingredients:
Beets (I used 3 medium sized golden beets and 3 medium sized red beets)
Beet greens of the beets you are using (tender preferably -- or substitute with regular salad greens)*
1Tbsp chopped red onion
3Tbsp chopped cilantro
2Tbsp chopped mint
handful of roasted slivered almonds (or any nuts for texture)
1Tbsp capers (optional)

Dressing:
Juice of half a lemon
zest of a lemon - (Don't skip this, lemon zest is a big flavoring of this salad)
olive oil - per taste
salt & pepper
Pinch of crushed red chili flakes

A note about beet greens: Beet greens taste parallel to chard leaves to me. I find that greens from the baby beets are soft enough to eat them raw similar to spinach leaves. If the beets are mature though then the leaves seem a bit tough and its best to blanch them or steam them instead of eating raw. Either way, you can always substitute spinach or salad greens in place of the beet greens or omit the greens altogether (and answer you doctor later :D).

Recipe:
  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. Scrub the beets gently to remove dirt. Remove the leaves. Do not peel the beets (they tend much better to peeling post-roasted). Drizzle with olive oil and black pepper. Roast for 40-60 mins (depending on the size). The done-ness test is that a pierced knife should come out easily.
  3. If not using beet greens, skip this step: Remove the stem of the leaves. If they are soft enough, use them as raw greens; if not, steam or blanch them for a few minutes before using. If unsure, just blanch :)
  4. Once the roasted beets are cool enough to handle, peel the skin off and cut them into small pieces.
  5. Add chopped greens, onions, cilantro, mint, almonds and capers to the beets.
  6. Meanwhile make a salad dressing combing all of the dressing ingredients mentioned above. Adjust per taste.
  7. Add the dressing to the beet mixture and enjoy!


* The picture above uses salad greens instead of beet greens. (The beets I bought this time did not have greens attached to them) Salad greens is a perfectly good substitute for beet greens in this recipe, but if you do find beets with greens attached to them, then please try the beet greens; they will give the salad a lot more beetiness!

On a happier note, a very warm thanks to Malar of Kitchen Tantra for giving me a Holiday Cheerleading award here. Thanks Malar!

Till next time leaving you with a tip to anyone who may want to photograph a beet salad in future: Please please don't mix the red beets to the salad before plating! As you can see above, they take no time at-all to stain the rest of the salad :(. Next time I would probably plate the salad minus red beets and then add red beets (without mixing) just before the photo.. Hey, you live and learn, right? :)

27 comments:

  1. Beet salads to detox the sugar! They look so very good. I spent a lifetime throwing away those greens too till I realize how tasty they are. I save mine for making sambhar, just like chard they are delicious in the sambhar. You got to give it a try.

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  2. wow, using beet greens in sambhar sounds like a great idea! I'll surely try it soon :)

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  3. Beet salad looks great! I haven't cooked with beet greens before too, feel guilty now about throwing them away so much.

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  4. hi pj!! hope the holidays were good! the salad looks delicious. i love beets!! my favorite ofcourse are beetroot added in sambhar-nice red sambhar!!

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  5. What a great and best (from waste) idea of using green beets! Such a lovely salad that I can never imagine. :D
    But, is this your dinner/lunch or side dish? Oh God! I can never survive on salad or greens only. ;) :)

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  6. Healthy and colourful salad.I only have this as a side dish.

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  7. am not a big fan of salads but its so colourful and wintry would love to try it. between loved your edible fruit tree. was so caught up with the festive get together could not comment earlier.

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  8. I agree 'sugar over dose' this week:) Need to be back on track...

    Good that you blogged about this healthy salad...I love the combo' sounds very refreshing to me:)

    So far used beet's greens only in subsi form!

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  9. amt, yes, beet greens was new to me too! Never again I am going to throw them now :D

    Rajani, thanks! Holidays were great and a lot of fun. How about yourself: did you have a great holiday? Beetroots in sambhar sounds delicious! and since so many people are recommending it, I must try this soon :)

    Sonia, thanks :) this was a lunch salad. Many days I have salads for lunch, but I think I give away all the health benefits by munching on snacks later :D

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  10. Padhu, this will go great as a side-dish too! At home we used to serve this as a side dish with beets chopped up really small.

    Sayantani, thanks :) I am so glad you liked the fruit tree! Hope you are having great holidays!

    Malar, thanks! Beet greens in sabji sounds interesting! Yes, need to get back on track now :) thanks for the award too!

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  11. how perfect is this meal....I would have it any day...and actually today is good too :)

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  12. looks very colorful n delicious. Love the edibile tree :)

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  13. Oh this is a healthy treat after ur right the sweet overdose. I have never tried Beet greens. Who knew we could make a yumnmy salad with that. I tossed it out too..but never again. Also love ur aromatic salad dressing. Thanks for sharing this wonderful salad recipe.

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  14. My dad makes a beautuful beet salad- we all love the stained veggies - Like ur beet colored salad!

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  15. Hey Dea..!!
    Hope you had wonderful holidays...
    That salad sounds interesting and looks yummy too..

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  16. Looks beautiful...i just LOVE all ur pics...
    Happy Holidays to you....

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  17. Never seen golden beets - and yes, the greens of radish I know can be cooked, but never tried beet greens - looks delicious

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  18. what a colorful and delicious salad...I too ate tons of sweets and other goodies during the week end and ended up with very light meals yesterday :D Guess you had a wonderful X'mas :-)

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  19. Jhonny, welcome to my blog! yes, I love such simple meals of salads or soups anyday! fast cooking, healthy and delicious.. Thanks a lot for stopping by :)

    Rahin, thanks :) I am so glad you liked the salad! The tree was so much fun to make, I think I am going to be making it every year from now on!

    Dolly, thanks :) Beet greens are really tasty, I would actually prefer them over spinach! I am so happy you liked the salad dressing too!

    A2Z vegetarian cooking, thanks :) such salads are my favorites!

    Cham, thanks so much for stopping by.. I love the beet flavor as well, and staining is something I don't mind anymore for the flavor :)

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  20. Manasi, thanks :) Color of the salad is a big part of what makes me into making this so many times :)

    Sarah, thanks! I am so glad you liked the salad :)

    s, thanks :) Happy holidays to you too, dear!

    Miri, thanks! I found golden beets a few months ago at farmers market.. they are just so delicious! flavor-wise I think they are same as red beets but the huge advantage is no staining!

    Gulmohar, thanks! the holidays were great! I hope you are having a great vacation too :)

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  21. Looks fantastic.. thanks for sharing.

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  22. colourful & healthy salad...lovely click too

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  23. Nostalgia: thanks!

    Sushma, thanks!

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  24. lovely salad bursting with flavor...
    i use the beet greens in whole dals cooked with garam masala and in rajma too...they taste yummy in that combination...

    i make a kabab with the greens too..have yet to post that one.

    wishing you n family a happy n prosperous new year !!

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  25. Sangeeta, thanks! making kababs with greens is such a nice idea! Looking forward to seeing your post about this :)

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