Thursday, September 19, 2013

Beet and Nectarine Salad with Feta

Do you like beets?  I didn't use to, but I think it's because I didn't know how to eat them.  Plain, over-cooked beets are as bad to me as soggy brussel sprouts.  Blech.  The first time I remember trying beets and enjoying them was when a friend served them, cold, with fresh feta and olive oil.  I tried it partly out of curiosity, partly because I love feta, and mostly because I didn't want to be rude and not eat what I was served.  Yum!  I was pleasantly surprised and thus began a new relationship with this beautifully colored vegetable.

Beet smoothies are popular in my home.  Beet greens are great sautéed for quesadillas.  And today I'm sharing a delicious salad made better by beets.  I guess you could leave out the beets and the salad would still be good, but why not give them a try?!  My guess is you'll find the slightly sweet, slightly bitter flavor not too offensive.  And if you don't over-cook them, the beet can add a great texture to this salad.

2 medium beets, cooked and cut into wedges (see below for how I like to cook them)
2 ripe nectarines, cut into wedges
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted (cook on a dry frying pan for 7-10 minutes)
feta cheese
bed of salad leaves

for the dressing:
3 tsp. honey
2 tsp. dijon mustard
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil

There are many different ways to cook beets.  My preferred method is to steam them with the skins on. Trim the stems and long root then give the beets a good rinse.  Place in your steamer with just enough water so that the beets aren't sitting in water.  Bring water to boil, cover, and turn down heat to simmer 20-30 minutes.  Test with a knife to see if beets are soft all the way through.  Once finished, carefully remove whole beets from steamer and let cool until you can handle them easily.  The skins will rub off, but if you'd rather not have bright red pink all day, wear gloves or use a small knife to scrape them off.  Now you have peeled, cooked beets ready for use!  I steamed four beets, used two for this salad, cut the other two into chunks and put them in the freezer for smoothies.

To assemble the salad:

Start with a bed of salad greens on each plate.  Top with nectarine and beet wedges.  Add crumbled feta and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds.

Whisk honey, mustard, vinegar, and oil together to make the dressing.  Drizzle on top of salad and enjoy!

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