Dear sisters, Considering how much all of us love cooking, we haven’t talked about it very much in this space. And I’ve been thinking lately about the recipes we make over and over, the ones we have memorised. The recipes that when you are given an ingredient, you know exactly what you’ll make. So I hope that we all can contribute some of our standards! A few months ago we started getting a weekly produce box, which is quite similar to a CSA share but not quite so much commitment, i.e. no share payment up front. Ours is from our local Camphill community, which means it is lovingly tended and organically grown by volunteers and persons with intellectual disabilities living in community. We have been groaning under the weight of carrots (so. many. carrots.), potatoes, swedes (which Americans call ‘rutabagas’), parsnips, leeks, and cabbage, so much so that we’ve gone down to getting our veg box once every other week. Good winter crops, all, and it makes the greens more special when they show up. We’ve struggled to use all our root veg this winter, but there is one vegetable that never goes to waste. Whenever we have beets (or beetroot, as they call it here), we make beet and apple salad.
I got this recipe from Mom, who received it through a Mennonite friend, who got it from the Rolling Prairie Cookbook where it was called ‘Gorgeous Beet and Apple Salad’. It starts with roasting beets. I wash them lightly, leaving the skins on, and wrap them in aluminium foil (sometimes I sprinkle in a bit of salt and olive oil if I’m feeling fancy). They go into the oven for an hour or so at a reasonable temperature (approximately 350 F/175 C) while I am cooking something else, and I can tell when they are done when the kitchen smells like beets. If you are more attentive than I am, you can open up the foil packet and poke them with a thin knife to see if they are tender throughout. I don’t, but sometimes really big beets take a lot longer, so beware. After they’ve cooled, it’s time to peel the skins off. This is my very favourite part because I like getting my hands dirty and I find the task meditative. If the beets are well cooked they should come off relatively easily. Funny fact – it is hard to actually buy raw beetroot in the grocery store here. Our Aldi only sells vacuum sealed packets of boiled and peeled beets that come from France. They are very convenient for salad but it feels like cheating!
Peeled beets are diced and combined with diced apples and dressing. The dressing is a simple red wine vinaigrette with Dijon mustard to keep it emulsified and a bit of sweetness from sugar or honey. The original recipe called for ¼ cup of finely diced red onion. I adore the flavour of red onion, but I found that most of the time when I was serving it the red onion was left at the bottom of the bowl/on the plate. So we leave it out most of the time these days, and find the shallot provides more than enough yummy allium flavour. Sometimes if we don’t have shallots we use spring onions/scallions, and they are also good. A&E love this salad and we routinely pack it in A’s school lunch. Then they get to watch for their p00p and p€€ to turn pink, which is all sorts of exciting when you are 5/2. The kids always eat the apples first but they will eat the beets too. Here’s the recipe:
Beet and Apple Salad (a single recipe, which I doubled for the photos taken for this post) Adapted from the Rolling Prairie Cookbook (caveat: I have never seen the Rolling Prairies Cookbook)
- 4-5 medium beets, roasted or boiled, peeled, and diced to ‘bite size’
- 1-2 green apples such as Granny Smith, diced to the same size as the beets
- ¼ cup red onion, finely diced (optional)
- 1 Tablespoon rapeseed (canola) oil
- 1 teaspoon red wine or balsamic vinegar (we always use red wine)
- ¼ teaspoon sugar or honey
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper
- 1 Tablespoon finely diced shallot, or more
Combine the beets, apples, and red onion (if desired) in a medium to large bowl. Whisk together the rapeseed oil, vinegar, sugar, and mustard in a small container until emulsified. Add the shallot and salt and pepper to taste and toss the dressing with the beets and apples. Best if made and chilled before serving, to allow the shallot flavour to infuse and amplify. Sometimes our Momma adds finely cut parsley and that is also lovely.
Other recipes I’m obsessing over these days:
I can’t stop making this spicy popcorn after the kids go to bed while watching Parks and Rec – sweet, spicy, and herby with demera sugar, cayenne pepper, and fresh rosemary.
Bradley has made some variation of this soup (usually with homemade chicken broth) dozens of times this winter. We all love fennel seeds! I like it doused with Frank’s hot sauce, extra black pepper, and toasted bread for dipping. Sometimes I eat it for breakfast.