When we lived together in college, my housemate Tessa loved avocados and beets. At the time, I had a serious aversion to both of these foods, and awaited Tessa’s assigned cooking night with dread. It felt like no matter what dish she cooked for our nightly dinners, she would find a way to squeeze avocados or beets (or both!) into it. She put them in cake. She put them in frosting. She put them in soup. She ate them with a spoon. I grew to appreciate a well-placed avocado, but generally I avoided these weekly concoctions with a stubborn, self-righteous fervor. The Saturday I woke up to find four of my housemates excitedly using beet juice to tie-dye their clothing, I cursed hippie culture up and down and swore off beets for good.
Two years ago, though, all of that changed. I was out for lunch with my mother one day and her order came with a side of beets. Apparently my aversion to beets was genetic, as she left them untouched on her plate. Renowned hater-of-food-waste that I am, I begrudgingly took them home with me.
That evening, I realized what wiser friends of mine had known for years: beets actually rule! Seriously, they are so great. Boiled or roasted, this beautifully hued vegetable is nature’s candy, right up there with sweet potatoes and dates.
Of course, you should never, ever eat them from a can, but then again, rare is the vegetable for which this statement does not hold true.
These days, I eat beets whenever I can get my hands on them, and I make this salad regularly. It’s a simple dish and tastes best with fresh basil, which I always have in abundance during the summer months. And you know what? I bet this would even taste pretty great on a bed of spinach topped with fresh chunks of avocado.
- 6 medium beets (about 3 cups chopped)
- 15 fresh basil leaves, minced
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- pinch of ground mustard
- salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
- Wash and trim beets, leaving 1″ root and 1″ stem intact.
- Place trimmed beets in a medium saucepan and cover with water.
- Bring water to a boil and simmer beets, covered, for 20-25 minutes or until you can easily slice into one.
- Rinse beets in cold water and remove skins by rubbing firmly.
- Allow beets to cool completely.
- Slice beets into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl.
- Add remaining ingredients and toss until beets are well-coated.
P.S. For those of you who aren’t seasoned beet-eaters, don’t panic if you eat this salad and then find that you seem to be pissing blood. You are not dying, but you do have a cool new party trick!