Cooking Together

‘Cooking Together’: Beets and Potato Salad

A heart-healthy salad for February: Beets and potato salad with a light vinaigrette  

 By Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff

In many countries, the month of February is celebrated with a holiday of love – Valentine’s Day.  And red is the color for February as it symbolizes heart, love and friendship. 

Many of us give red flowers and heart-shaped candies to our loved ones. But the American Heart Association has a different theme for February. They call February the “Heart Awareness Month” to remind us that heart diseases are one of the major causes of premature deaths in the United States. 

Health professionals point out that many factors contribute to our heart health, such as the family history of heart disease and diet. While the genetics are out of our control, we can certainly modify our diet by including heart-healthy foods, such as fresh vegetables, to our daily menu.  So, let’s celebrate February by sharing a salad of healthy root vegetables with our loved ones. 

This column presents a red beet and potato salad with other vegetables that is different from a more familiar potato salad that contains high-calorie mayonnaise dressing. This salad is made with red beets, potatoes, carrots, pickles, celery and green onions. It is dressed with a light vinaigrette of red vinegar and olive oil which is flavored with fresh dill, salt and pepper.

The main ingredients of this recipe – beets, potatoes and carrots – are packed with nutrients that can help us in regulating blood flow, maintaining an ideal blood pressure and lowering the bad cholesterol. In addition, the antioxidants in these vegetables can protect us from harmful free radicals. 

Ingredients:

2 medium beets, cut into quarters  

3 to 4 small red or Yukon gold potatoes, cut into quarters 

2 small carrots, scraped cleaned and cut into large chunks

2 small whole dill pickles (or spears of 2 pickles), drained and chopped into small pieces 

1 or 2 stalks celery, cut into tiny pieces 

2 to 3 green onions (scallions) with some green parts, chopped very fine

1 to 2 beet leaves (optional), minced 

3 tablespoons olive oil

1½ to 2 tablespoons red vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh dill weed, minced 

¾ to1 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Boil 6 cups of water in a sauce pot and add the beets.  Cook them for 40 minutes or longer until they are very soft. In a separate pot, boil 6 cups of water and add the potatoes. After the potatoes have been boiling for 10 minutes, add carrots and cook the two vegetables together for 10 minutes or until they are soft, but not falling apart.  

While the root vegetables are boiling, cut the pickles, celery, green onions and the optional beet leaves, as described in the list of ingredients, and place them into a mixing bowl.

Remove the boiled vegetables from water and drain them. Peel the potatoes and beets using your fingers. (It is very easy to peel them after they are boiled.) Carrots do not need to be peeled. Cut the vegetables into a small dice (a little bigger than sugar cubes). Set them aside to cool. 

In a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, dill weed, salt and pepper. Set this dressing aside. 

Add the cooled root vegetables to the bowl of chopped vegetables and combine them gently.  Drizzle the vinaigrette on top of the vegetables while mixing them, using two wooden spoons, so that the salad is well moistened but not overdressed. (You may not need the full amount of dressing made.) The salad can be kept at room temperature for an hour or longer before serving.  Or it can be chilled until ready to serve. 

You can serve the salad as a light lunch placed on a bed of romaine or butter lettuce leaves. Or, serve it as a side entrée to go with a soup or a quiche or a light vegetable dish such as ratatouille.   The chilled salad also makes an ideal dish to take to a picnic.   

Makes four to six servings

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Shanta is a Sunset District resident and the author of “Cooking Together” and “Flavors of India,” both available at Other Avenues Food Co-op., Green Apple Book Store, Rainbow Grocery Co-op, and at other local bookstores. Shanta writes recipes and articles on food and teaches cooking classes. She shares her recipes via videos on YouTube. To view her cooking videos click Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff’s YouTube videos.

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