“I don’t like it!” was my anthem, and I clung to the belief that unfamiliar foods most probably tasted like earthworm innards.
So needless to say, it speaks volumes to my mother that I occasionally sneak bits of raw onion as I am cutting them up for a recipe. Raw. Onions.
But there are still those foods that I just can’t get myself to like…I try them every few months or so, in various forms and recipes, but after one bite, I inwardly plug my nose and force the rest down, or gasp, throw them away. (Oh the glory of adulthood!)
Here they are.
Mayonaisse: the devil’s phlegm.
Mustard: honestly, I don’t know what ketchup sees in her.
Canned Tuna: is there anything worse?
Most Seafood: designed to be consumed by fish people…fish.
And on the fence…mushrooms and eggplants. In recent years, I’ve come to consider these tolerable, if hidden in enough cheese.
And a few weeks ago, I realized that my jury was out on beets. In my mind, they mostly tasted like dirt and cheap buffets, but I couldn’t honestly remember the last time I’d tried one. Beets, of all vegetables, were featured in the latest addition of Edible Twin Cities, a magazine dedicated to making local food look good.
As I flipped through the magazine, I stumbled across this recipe for a salad of roasted beets…and I thought…bacon? blue cheese? nuts? Surely beets have to taste good surrounded by such worthy friends…even if they do resemble tiny aliens.
So, I made the salad, and with an open mind, I assembled a perfect bite of roasted beet, bleu cheese, bacon bit, chard, and candied walnut…and bit in.
Folks, the jury is IN: for me, beets are firmly in the “like” camp. (I can’t tell you how badly I wanted to write “Beets can’t be beat!” there.)
This salad has a few steps to it, but all are easy. You can roast the beets ahead of time, and making candied walnuts, I found, is really fast and easy…a little too easy. With both of these players prepared ahead, the fried bacon, chard wilted in bacon grease, and crumbled bleu cheese all come together quickly. Eric and I kept talking about how well the flavors of the ingredients played off one another: salty, sweet, earthy. What I loved too is how the beets and the candied walnuts brought different kinds of sweet to the salad…the beets and the chard each brought a different take on earthiness.
Here’s my question: so now that I know that I like beets, what is YOUR favorite way to prepare/eat them? I’d love if you could link to or describe a recipe in the comments!
(recipe adapted from Edible Twin Cties Magazine)
(yields 2 large servings, or 4 small side servings)
This roasted beet salad recipe has major flavor from salty bacon bits, creamy blue cheese, and sweet candied walnuts. Colorful Swiss chard fills out the salad beautifully. I adapted the recipe by adding candied walnuts to the mix.
(I learned how to candy walnuts here)
4-6 slices bacon (thick-cut works best)
4-6 beets (roasted, peeled, & sliced)
1 bunch swiss chard, coarsely chopped (about 2 c.)
1 c. crumbled blue cheese
1/2 c. green onions or chived, chopped
1 c. walnuts
1/3 c. sugar
To Roast the Beets:
Cut off the stems about a 1/2 inch from the beet, and wash the beets thoroughly (I used my potato scrubber). Rub beets lightly with olive oil and wrap beets individually in loose foil packets. Place foil packets on a baking sheet, and roast beets at 375* for 45-60 minutes, or until beets are fork tender. Be sure to flip your beets over every 15 minutes or so, and open the packets periodically to make sure they are not scorching. Mine were starting to scorch, so I just put a tbsp. of water in the packet and resealed it.
Once the beets are roasted and cooled, peel and slice into thin half circles and set aside.
To Make Candied Walnuts:
Place walnuts in a dry, shallow pan. Toast, stirring frequently, over medium-low heat until nuts are quite fragrant and slightly browned. Remove to a plate.
In the same pan, pour your sugar. Over medium heat, stir the sugar until it is all completely melted and more of an amber color. Don't let it burn!
As soon as the sugar is melted, add the toasted walnuts, and stir to coat them. Quickly remove them to a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, and use 2 forks to separate the walnuts. Allow to cool.
To make the salad:
Over medium heat, fry your bacon until it is browned and crispy. Remove to a paper-towel covered plate, and let cool and drain. Once cool, crumble the bacon and set aside.
Using the same pan and bacon grease, saute the beet slices and chard over medium-low heat until chard is tender.
Add the bacon and toss.
Place the chard, beet, and bacon mixture onto plates, top with the blue cheese, green onions, and candied nuts, and serve immediately.
This salad does not keep well, best eaten the same day as prepared!