Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Simplest Polish Beet Salad--Back to the Roots

I would not be Polish, if I did not talk about beetroots again. And I admit that they are one of my favorite Polish vegetables. Luckily, I have found them without any problems everywhere I lived. In Switzerland, where they also make beetroot salads, I could buy them already cooked, and here in America, I can buy them in more colors than red.

Going through food magazines I realized that beetroots are becoming increasingly popular. Many famous chefs and top restaurants include them into salads, while farmers clone them into unusual colors. But only in Polish and Russian cuisines beets have a truly prominent and well established position.

We prepare many national dishes with beetroots--the famous beetroot soup (barszcz aka borscht) and cold beet soup (chlodnik), and many varieties of salads. I love to eat them in the simplest way as accompaniment to meats and a dinner salad, but I also keep trying new recipes and look for new inspirations. The other day I have found a South American salad with beets that I will incorporate into my menu. It looked very original and I am sure the taste will not be disappointing. I was wondering today, if I should make something fancy and elegant to make you crave for beets, like the not-so-Polish beet salad that I make often, or rather make something really simple and familiar to show beets the way we eat them most often in Poland.

I think that if you are not afraid, or rather curious of beets, you should try them the way that we prepare them in their Polish kingdom. I would probably not post this easy recipe on any Polish blog, but since my native readers are a minority on my blog, I feel excused to do that. I hope to encourage some others to try beets, perhaps for the first time ever.

A good news is that beets (and especially their juice) are not only fashionable but also very healthy, as they are known to help fight cancer.

Since beet juice is so healthy I made just one modification in this traditional recipe and do not cook beets in water, as we do it in Poland for any kind of salads, but bake them in an oven. This way I preserve not only their beautiful color, but also some of the nutrients that would be otherwise thrown away with the water. I usually plan, and bake them when I use the oven to bake some other dish. Baked and peeled they preserve well in a refrigerator for up to 5 days.

I also add caraway seeds to that salad, as it has been done in my home, but if you do not like that specific taste you can easily skip that, without diminishing taste of the salad.

Beet Salad

4 medium beets,
1/2 sweet onion,
3 tbsp red balsamic vinegar,
1 tbsp sugar,
2 tbsp olive oil,
1 tsp caraway seeds,
salt and pepper.

1. Preheat oven to 375-400F.
2. Wash beets and wrap each of them separately in the aluminum foil.
3. Place them in the oven and bake for around one hour, or a little bit more or less, depending on their size.
4. Peel off the foil, remove the skin (the best is to do that in gloves, as beets will color hands), and grate the beets on a grater with very large holes.
5. Peel off the onion and cut into very small cubes.
6. Mix beets with onion, add vinegar, sugar, oil, salt, and pepper. Taste if you need more vinegar or salt, depending on taste.
7. At the end, add caraway seeds if used.
8. Let them marinate for a couple of hours and serve cold, as salad.

This salad can be stored in a refrigerator up to 4 days. It tastes best with red meats or cold cuts.


Moni said...

Mmmm! I've been wanting to make beet salad! Thank you for this, I'm going to attempt it next week.


4feet2mouths said...

Thanks, we're making this tonight with our p-dogs.

Anonymous said...

thank you, thank you!!