Beet, Fennel, Apple, Chicken Salad
Remember when I said I had this week off? Ha! The very morning I said this, a rush project came in. So did a health bill, so I put two and two together and came up with WORK.
So things aren’t quite as festive and relaxed and art-filled this week as one would hope. But then, with the slush everywhere, maybe a March vacation is a better option anyway.
Since February has been a month of slush, it’s also been a month of health. There’s little incentive to do more sartorially than pile on cashmere+scarf+shearling+boots when dirty puddles and snow await. So I’ve continued focusing on the insides with religious attention to yoga and exercise and a glorious spiritual attention to food preparation. So far this year, I’ve hands down experimented and cooked far more than all last year combined.
I love it. Combined, all this takes hours of my day. But it’s worth it, especially when the out-of-doors seems so icky.
Given the response to my last food post, I thought I’d pop in and share another discovery. This time it’s beets. I know, I know, I promised something more substantial for the next food post, but I’m about to make that elaborate dish again and would like the chance for some additional pictures . . . In the meantime—let’s herald the much under-appreciated beet.
I didn’t grow up with beets. Or, if I did, my mom hated the canned version as much as anyone, so she never visited it on us. (If you can’t read between the lines, let’s just say canned vegetables equaled vegetables in our household.) Then, about ten or twelve years ago, I had the experience of my life. A friend prepared us a dinner of simply cooked beets as we huddled in our jumpers in an old English Oxford cottage. It was delicious. Very simple, very memorable, and more than a bit of a revelation . . . I mean, how do you go from those ugly things in the grocery to something edible. Well, I didn’t ask then (though I certainly expressed my gourmand appreciation), so I’ve been at a loss.
Well. Let’s say now I understand why no one cooks beets. Or few people, anyway—and likely my readers, as you all are far more advanced than I am in the vegetable department. Beets are glorious. They are truly yummy. If you don’t know this, you haven’t had the fresh variety. But then, if you’ve made the fresh variety, you understand something critical. They’re messy. They stain things. And it takes a long time. Thank goodness, then, that it’s worth it.
I used beets this past weekend in a salad. I honestly can’t imagine a better way to experience the root vegetable, and this particular salad combination was so fabulous that I could eat it week in and week out (if willing to work for it). I particularly love how the beets ended up staining the other vegetables and fruits, creating a beautiful red and green salad that perks up the eyes as much as the tastebuds. Hopefully you agree.
Take 4 or 5 beets and chop off the greens. Put the beets into a roasting pan with water. Bake (350 or whatever) until cooked, 20-30 minutes. Skewer them with a knife to determine readiness. Cool them–running cold water helps. Then, carefully slip off the exterior skin. This is messy and yuck.
Chop beets into nice slices or chunks.
Next, the salad:
Throw a combination of salad greens and kale into a big bowl.
Slice up a bulb or two (two!!!) of fresh fennel. (I love fennel. Like leeks, it’s a très French vegetable.) Throw in.
Slice up thinly an apple. Throw in.
Throw in the beets.
Toast up walnuts and throw that in too.
Next, the chicken:
Have your honey chop up two chicken breasts into small pieces and fry them up in butter. Throw in.
Next, the vinaigrette:
Mix a spoon of mustard (dijon mustard makes everything yummy), 2 tbsp basalmic vinegar, and 3 tbsp of olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Mix and throw over salad.
All together this is the most delicious salad I have ever had. Bon appetit!
How’s the winter hump going for you?