One of my favorite things in this world is enjoying a perfectly cooked beet. (Can I get a show of hands for all you beet lovers out there?) Over the years of cooking beets, I have come to love the messy endeavor of processing them, from staining my hands magenta to turning the bottom of my sink into a kind of Pollock painting.
If I were to ever create a manifesto, I think it would probably have to include a clause about the importance of avoiding overcooking one’s beets. (If this has ever happened to you, you have probably realized what a tragedy this is.)
Beets are humming with vitality, from their color to their natural sugars and minerals. They can be both refreshing and comforting, placed in both sweet and savory contexts. While I love each and every vegetable I’ve ever put into my mouth (except maybe turnips, which I am still learning to love), I have to say that I think beets may be my favorite.
In an effort to welcome in the cold weather and simultaneously give a nod to the last wave of summer, I dreamed up this recipe one morning over a warm cup of coffee. Simple, fresh ingredients, variety of texture and flavor, maximum nutrients. I’m pretty happy with this side dish–and, it paired wonderfully with the ginger miso glazed halibut I had for dinner.
The beets were trimmed, wrapped individually in foil, and placed in a shallow water bath, otherwise known as a “bain marie.”
While the beets were baking, I cut my carrots into matchsticks and soaked them in vinegar for a “quick pickle,” sliced my scallions, and toasted my sesame seeds.
The drained carrots were tossed into the beets crumbled feta cheese and the other add ins, and the whole thing was finished with a drizzle of sesame oil and a squeeze of lime.
Sesame Beet Salad (GF)
- 3 medium sized beets
- 2 medium carrots, cut into matchsticks
- ¼ c white wine vinegar
- ¼ c rice wine vinegar
- 2 tsp white sesame seeds, toasted
- 1 tsp black sesame seeds
- 1 oz feta cheese
- 3 scallions, sliced
- 2 Tbs sesame oil
- Juice of ½ lime
Preheat oven to 450°F. Wash beets and trim both ends with a knife. Wrap each beet individually in foil and place in a baking dish with roughly two inches of water in it. Bake beets for an hour and 15 minutes or so, or until a fork can be inserted with minimal resistance the full length of the prong.
While beets are baking, place carrot matchsticks and both vinegars into a small bowl until the carrots are submerged. Leave them at least 30 minutes, but closer to an hour is ideal.
In a small pan over medium low heat, heat white sesame seeds until they just start to take on color and emit a pleasant odor, about 5 minutes. Mix warm toasted sesame seeds with black sesame seeds in another small bowl and set aside.
When beets have finished cooking, carefully unwrap them in the sink and run cold water over them until they are cool enough to handle. The skin should easily come off in your hands, but some will be more difficult to peel than others. Don’t be afraid to use a knife to cut off any stubborn bits.
Once cool, cut beets into strips about 1/4” thick and place in a medium bowl. Drain carrot strips and add to the bowl along with sesame seeds, sliced scallions, and crumbled feta cheese. Finish with sesame oil and lime juice. Pairs great with white fish for a full meal.