A couple of weeks ago I was asked to bring a salad to a dinner party. I wanted to make something a little out of the ordinary, and beets popped into my head as they are just coming into season (June-October). Beets have many healing properties. In traditional Chinese medicines, beets are used to treat irritability, restlessness, anemia, heart weakness, constipation, herpes, and to detoxify the liver.
Beets are high in folate, potassium, manganese and other powerful nutrient compounds that help protect against heart disease and birth defects. Betacyanin, the pigment that gives beets their deep red color, is a potent cancer-fighting agent. Several studies indicate that beets are especially effective at protecting against colon cancer. Beets are expecially helpful during pregnancy, as they are rich in the B vitamin folate, which is critical for normal tissue growth.
The recipe below was a big hit. I modified it a bit from one that I found online. I hope you like it as much as my friends and I did.
* 1 pound small beets, well-scrubbed (about 5)
* 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon sugar
* 1/2 cup olive oil
* 1 large pear
* 3 cups Arugula
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
For the roasted beets: Place the beets in a sheet of foil and place another sheet on top and create a seal around the beet. Roast the beets on a baking sheet until tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Cool the beets in their foil packet for a few minutes, and then rub off the skins using a paring knife if needed. The beets need to still be a little warm to be able to remove the skins easily. While the beets are roasting, toast the almonds in a small skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Remove and cool.
For the vinaigrette: Make the vinaigrette by stirring together the vinegar, mustard, salt and sugar, and then slowly whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. Slice the cooled and peeled beets into 1/4-inch thick slices and add half the vinaigrette, tossing to coat completely. Toss the remaining vinaigrette with the salad greens. Quarter and core the pear and slice it into julienne strips, about 1/8-inch thick. Arrange the dressed greens, and beets on a platter and top with the pear and toasted nuts
Joe Curcio, L. Ac.