Monday, July 21, 2008

Beet and Carrot Salad with Infinite Possibilities

Lately, I have been feeling very inspired to eat more raw foods, not because of the trendy raw foods diet which seems to have gotten increasingly popular over the last few years, but because of one of my recent guests, who has barely turned five. The little charmer has visited a few times over the last couple of years and is getting curiously more interested in food for her age. She wants to snap green beans without me asking her to, she opens the fridge to decide which vegetables should go into the pasta of the day, and asks for the honors of pressing the buttons on the blender. All that is fine, but when she asks me to make her a salad to go with the meal I shudder with a mild pleasant shock. The bigger shock is when she insists on checking every vegetable raw. "Broccoli tastes better when it is cooked than raw", she says conclusively as she chomps on a floret happily.

While I like salads in general, and there are many vegetables and fruits that I would happily eat in their raw state, there are also many others that I would rather have cooked. Beets, for example. As far back as I can remember, I have never disliked beets. Boiled beets, shredded, and served dressed as a koshimbir (a maharashtrian side salad, delicious but underrated) was a huge favorite and still is. When I was still young enough to be in middle school, an older cousin introduced me to lightly cooked beets - she would boil them for a few minutes, then peel them, slice into sticks, add some salt and pepper and have it as a crunchy snack. Later, a friend introduced roasted beets as a technique that preserves the nutrients more than boiling. All good. So naturally, when I read about this raw beets and carrot salad, I was intrigued enough to give it a try. The gorgeous picture with shades of red presented on black helped to add to the allure.

Chioggia Beets, shredded
Shredded Chioggia Beets

Fortunately for me, beets are available here nearly all year around, in different colors and sizes, and with lots of greens attached to it. [I use the greens and stems too, but that is for another post.] When I was ready to make this raw beets salad I had chioggia beets in the fridge, which are usually pink in color outside, and when sliced crosswise, they reveal beautiful concentric circles of pink and white. Otherwise they are almost like regular beets. Right after I peeled and shredded one I had to check out how it tastes, raw, so I tentatively pinched a few strands and ate them. It was great! I added one shredded carrot, a squeeze of lemon juice, a splash of orange juice, some chopped walnuts, salt and pepper and then let it sit for about half an hour. Refreshingly delicious. The earthiness of the beets and sweetness of carrots pairs together to create a combination that amazes with its simplicity. Less is more, indeed.

After tasting this salad I can relate to how this could have been Clotilde's go-to salad for several months. One can make infinite variations on it so it doesn't even have to get boring and taste the same every time. This salad is also wonderful in a sandwich made out of whole wheat pita bread or any other hearty bread, with a load of freshly made hummus. So far I have not tried adding either oil or garlic, both of which are in the original recipe, but here are some add-ins I have tried, with beets, carrots, salt, and a touch of something acidic being the constants.

* pinch of red Indian chili powder instead of black pepper
* chopped cilantro
* grated ginger
* chopped pistachios
* raita style, with yogurt and pinch of cumin powder and red chili powder.

All of these have been just as good, and I am sure I will continue to explore many more.

Carrots, Beet, and Walnut salad

Beets, carrots, a squeeze of lemon juice, a splash of orange juice, chopped walnuts, salt and pepper.

21 comments:

प्रिया said...

Looks crunchy and delicious! I must check out these chioggia beets, I always get the regular ones.

Mints! said...

I always saw these in local farmers markets and all cut and displayed nicely. But hardly ever picked up ... these will come home in the next trip to the farmers market!

delhibelle said...

I have only had the beetroot carrot combo juiced, never realised it could make a great salad.
Thanks for inspiring!

sra said...

Those beets are a revelation, as were yellow beets! A simple salad I sometimes make is beets/carrot shredded, with salt, a few grains of sugar, coriander and pepper.

Richa said...

first the watermelon radish now these beets, u pick up the most pretty vegs, et!

ranji said...

looks fresh and crunchy...very healthy too..loved the combo of beets and carrots..

bee said...

thank you. i have tons of carrots and beets growing in my garden.

Sangeeth said...

great combo.....looks fresh and crunchy....

Ashwini said...

I have never had raw beets!!! Do they taste funky at all, or just like any good ol raw veggie?
A Maharashtrian style koshimbir would be great with this idea...

Bhawana said...

Looks good. Never tried this combination. nice post.

Cynthia said...

I am yet to give beets a second chance. I had them once and did not really like them. Your salad encourages me.

Aparna said...

Beets aren't my favourite either, but your pictures look so good, I might just try this.
Interesting kid, too. I'm yet to meet a kid who likes raw veggies. Most of the ones I know, mine included, try to avoid even the cooked ones!

evolvingtastes said...

Thank you all for your responses. Once again, I am running out of time to thank each of you individually. Welcome to all those who stopped by the blog for the first time.


प्रिया, mints!, sra, richa, the chioggia beets taste very similar to other beets, but they do make for a gorgeous presentation, and sometimes, a conversation starter. :-)

Ashwini, arre if it tasted funky in any way I would have said so. I loved the taste as it is, but marinating the salad with orange/lemon juice mellows it out nicely even further as it sits.

Aparna, the kid is amazing about her food habits, touch wood. I make sure to stock up plenty of salad veggies and fruits when she visits.

Priya said...

I've never tried raw beets before. Will give this one a try, I have a lone carrot and golden beet in my fridge which need to be rescued asap!

Priyanka said...

wow...where did you find the chioggia beets et? i have never come across them before even at the farmer's market. looks lovely...but somehow i never like raw salads- give me a koshimbir, raita anytime of the day over a salad...so if i were to try this one- i would go with the raita style that you tried. the pluot jam looks mouthwatering.....and the pics are fabulous as usual

evolvingtastes said...

Priya, I hope you tried it out and liked it!

Priyanka, these were from the local farmers market.

Miri said...

very zen....can just imagine the simple flavours and crunchy texture. My favourite is the koshambir....

Divya Vikram said...

Colourful healthy salad..

Sunshinemom said...

Pretty snap and a great salad!

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Vanessa said...

Beets aren't my favorites, but it looks good in pictures. So I will try to make it for my child and husband. Hope that they will like this salad.

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