Down to Earth
It smells like snow...! Oh, I know that those of you who are actually under a good blanket of snow, and have to slog through it every day may not really understand why I am obsessed with the stuff, but I grew up with icy-cold, snowy winters, and the cold, grey, wet winters in London just don't cut it! There's nothing like a blustering storm outside to make one want to curl up by the window with a good book and a nice, hot bowl of soup.
...And yet, come January -after the gargantuan feasts of December- one of the things I crave most often is a good salad. Not the flimsy, leafy summer salads, but a good, hearty bowl of chunky vegetables, or beans of some sort. While it won't warm you up like a nice bowl of soup, a nice, hefty salad will do you lots of good, on top of making you feel virtuous.
My first ever vegetarian cookery book was Laurel's Kitchen, and it was a revelation. At first,the book did not have the handmade charm of the Moosewood books, but the recipes are just as enticing, and the reference section at the back of the book was -and is- ever so useful to a budding cook and new vegetarian. It is one of the few cookbooks I go back to again and again, and the recipe I make the most is bar none the Fruity Beety salad. Granted, I don't always follow the recipe to the letter... Here is its most recent incarnation.
Fruity Beet Salad
Serves 2-3 as a main
3 medium sized beets, cooked
2 blood oranges, or 1 navel orange
1 apple, Empires or Breaburns are great
1 Tbs grainy mustard
2 Tbs white wine, cider, or rice vinegar
5 Tbs oil
salt and pepper to taste
In a salad bowl, mix the mustard and vinegar, and slowly drizzle in the oil until well emulsified.
Peel the beets by lightly scraping the skin back with a knife -or a spoon could work too.
Rinse under cold water, and chop into a large dice.
Add to the salad bowl.
Peel and chop the oranges, or if you prefer, cut out the segments, and add to the beets.
Chop the apple into a small dice, add to the rest.
Cut the pomegranate in half, crosswise (in between the top and tail), and tap out the seeds over the bowl.
Mix everything gently, and season to taste.
Let sit for at least half an hour before serving.
I normally roast my beets in the oven -or in the wood-burning stove- but I just happened to have some left-over boiled beets from another meal, and they work fine too. If you are wary of cooking your own beetroots, you might be able to get a hand on cooked ones in some shops (in fact, in France, it is almost more difficult to find raw beets than it is to find cooked ones!) In any case, cooked beetroot should be firm, but not crunch, which takes about 45 minutes foil-wrapped in a 180°C/350°F oven, or more or less the same in a simmering pan of water.