At one family gathering, I brought a salad with beets. My husband’s Aunt upon hearing there were beets in the salad asked if they tasted like dirt. I responded that they had an earthy flavor, and she said, ” Well, they taste like dirt to me.” Orange pairs well with beets, and helps to give the beets a less earthy flavor, as evidenced by my daughter’s statement when she tasted this year’s beet salad. I handed her a plate and told her the beet salad was my offering. She took a bite and said she liked it because, “it doesn’t have that really rustic flavor that beets sometimes have. ”Diana
Borscht, a winter stew, has a long tradition in Russia and Ukraine. This recipe is from Cook Wild: Year-Round Cooking on an Open Fire by Susanne Fischer-Rizzi. I made this dish for dinner, and it was very delicious. It is vegetable dense, with lots of red beets turning everything a bright red, and very pretty. This stew has a lot of steps to it, so you will be close to the fire cooking for a good amount of time to prepare, but it’s worth the time you put into it. Though it serves 6 – 8, there are only 3 of us, so we had it for two meals, Yay for leftovers!
- 1 lb beef brisket
- 6 pints (12 cups) water
- 3 beetroots uncooked
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 potatoes
- 2 parsley roots
- 2 onions
- 2 carrots
- 1 red pepper, pitted
- 3 tomatoes skinned, pulp removed and quartered
- oil for frying (eg sunflower oil)
- ½ medium white cabbage
- 2 cups green beans cut into pieces
- salt and pepper
- 1⅓ cups sour cream or creme fraiche
- Put the meat (in one piece) in a pot with water, bring to a boil and simmer for a while.
- If there is foam on the surface, skim it off.
- Add the beetroots)whole and peeled), some salt and the bay leaf and simmer for about 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables. Cut the potatoes and parsley roots into strips or slices. Quarter the onions, slice the carrots and cut the peppers into strips. Heat some oil in a pan and add the vegetables gradually (the onions first, the tomatoes last) and fry for about 10 minutes.
- Cut the cabbage into fine strips and boil in a separate pot with the green beans for 10-15 minutes and then strain.
- Add all the vegetables to the meat, cover and simmer for another hour.
- Take out the beetroot and the meat, cut them into small pieces and return to the soup. If the borscht is too thick at this point, add some water. Bring to a boil, season with salt and pepper and serve hot.
- Put a generous dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche on each portion of soup and, if available, sprinkle some freshly chopped dill over it. Serve with fresh bread or blinis – and vodka as desired.
My Beet, Feta and Spelt Salad was my favorite of the two salads (the other was a pasta salad with peas, lamb mint sausage and a dill mint pesto) that we brought to the 3rd of July family gathering. It’s a potluck and I try to bring something new to the table, to make it interesting. Of course the young boys wouldn’t touch it, because it was healthy looking, and an aunt said she didn’t eat beets because they taste like dirt. I say earthy – she says dirt. Her husband liked it, and so did my family. I made a pretty big batch, so we had leftovers for breakfast and then some for dinner again. I also left a small bowl behind for my daughter because she had to work and wasn’t able to go with us. Feel free to cut down on amounts, I was cooking for a potluck, and had plenty of leftovers for us, which I wanted by the way – so I didn’t need to cook on the 4th. This is great for dinner, but I brought out the leftovers for breakfast and it went over well then too.
Spelt berry is similar to faro – or wheat berry. I intended to buy faro, but the shopkeeper told me I could have faro, or a more locally produced spelt which is similar. The spelt came from Stutzman Farms in Millersburg, which is not too, too far from me but I bought mine at the Greener Grocer. I seem to have a lot of their products in my home, I didn’t even realize it until today. Roasted beets are new to our family this year, and yes they have a very earthy taste, but I am enjoying it. I added basil and parsley from the garden, that was a suggestion from my daughter, who is getting into trying to figure out what herbs to use in our recipes. Feta seemed like a really good choice crumbled into the salad, though wait until it is cool, or it will be melted feta. I also threw in dried cranberries and chopped walnuts, plus don’t tell my husband but some itty bitty minced shallots.
This is a really delicious, healthy salad. Made ahead, you can portion it out for lunches or breakfast because it travels well in a covered bowl. It will also make a great side dish, or main dish for dinner. Best of all, it’s a quick fix with lots of chopping and a little bit of cooking. You make ahead and set to cool in the fridge.
I did roast my beets in the oven, but you can try the toaster oven, microwave or stove top if it’s too warm – today at 95 would be too warm.
The method I used to cook spelt was kind of a risotto method. I added the same amount of water as there was spelt, and heated in the microwave in a glass measuring cup more water. I slowly cooked out the water in the pot with the spelt, and then added a ladleful of warm water. I continued this way until the berries were almost the correct consistency and then I pulled the pot off the heat and allowed it to finish absorbing the water left in the pot. The berries were nice and chewy, not mushy, and not hard.
For the beets, I placed them into a glass bowl with a little water and cooked them until they were soft enough to chewy. Then you peel the skin off and dice. The walnuts I chopped with a knife, and also the basil and parsely.
Beet Feta & Spelt Berry Salad
- 2 cups spelt berries (before cooking)
- 5 or 6 roasted beets, peeled and chopped
- 2 handfuls of basil chopped
- 1/2 handful of parsley chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 cup of dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup crumbled Feta
Toss it all together, serve with a bottle of strawberry vinaigrette – my daughter used balsamic, but redwine or raspberry would work well also.
- 4 oz Strawberry Vinegar
- 2 oz olive oil
- salt/pepper/chopped basil leaves.
Shake well before serving.