Orange Beet+Bean Salad

by - September 16, 2015

(I apologise beforehad for this) 

  I've BEAN wanting to perfect a beetroot salad for a while now. There are so many out there but most of them taste of dirt and earth. So finally, here it is: I am actually BEET-ing myself up for not thinking of this sooner. And ORANGE you glad I did?

(ok puns will cease here, lets talk about beets)

  It took me a while to warm to the idea of eating a beetroot. My dad use to buy them and cut them up for breakfast. I just remember watching my mum choke hers down, blushing beet juice bleeding all over her fingers, following it with a load of water to wash the taste of the garden-shed out of her mouth. 
  "But it's good for you!"
  Their golden sisters weren't any better in my books. Beet was beet, and beet tasted like mud. No matter how good they were for me, I would gladly get all my antioxidants from blueberries, thank you very much.

   It took me accidentally eating beetroot in a salad to change my mind. They were hiding under all the fennel and spinach leaves, wickedly pink and waiting to pounce + make all my tastebuds suffer. 
  Except they didn't.
  The trick, you see, to eating a beet and liking it, is to start small. Chop them up into small cubes, or into paper-thin slices on a mandolin. That way the sweetness from the beet overpowers the earthiness. Also, it is important to pair beet with sour, acid, salty ingredients to help intensify them. It makes beet almost floral. 
  Then you work your way up, if you don't already like beet. make the slices thicker, the cubes bigger. I love them now, and I could probably eat one like an apple, no problemo (except I wouldn't, because I get enough stares eating kiwi skin). 

  There is a lot of science to this salad, I like to think. Humour me for a while:
  The raw onion offsets the mild sugary-ness of the beet, adds a bit more of a bite, a bit more spice. I went for the yellow instead of the red because (a) red onions make me cry, (b) white onions don't (weird, huh?); and (c) it's a lot more mellow. Also, red onions with red beets and red kidney beans were a bit too red for me.
  Dill because beet and dill are the perfect marriage in the Ukrainian borscht. And you do not mess with perfect pairings. 
  Orange for the acid, also as a dressing. I went for orange instead of the traditional lemon because you can make better puns with 'orange', and the sweetness of the juice would cancel out the need to add any sweeteners in the dressing itself.
  Capers! Because I adore capers. And they are little bubbles of salt that pop when you bite into them and make you giddy with their mustardy-ness. 
  Cumin: the mother-spice. Okay- my mother spice. I use it in everything and it goes so willingly with beetroot. Both very earthy, but cumin verging on the smokey side. Don't add too much or you will get that overpowering raw-cumin smell. Less is more. 
  Now that I re-read that, not so scientific after all. But if you don't like beet, and are still very skeptical, give it a chance (take a chance take a chance take a chance...). 

Orange Beet&Bean Salad
Serves: 4-6 as a side

2 medium beetroot, cooked and cut into small cubes
1 can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 medium yellow onion, chopped 
1 bunch of dill, finely chopped
3-4 tbsp of capers, drained from their brine 
juice of 1 medium orange
1/2 tsp of ground cumin
salt and pepper, optional (you may not need it from the briney-ness of the beans and capers)

Cut up the beet, onion and dill. Mix them in a salad bowl with the beans and capers. Juice an orange and whisk in the cumin and salt/pepper, if using any. Pour this over the veg and toss. You can serve it immediately but I like to leave it in the fridge for a few hours to let the acid in the OJ do its thannnng.

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