Beet salads became rather ubiquitous on restaurant menus a few years ago, and there’s a good reason why: beets are delicious, nutritious, inexpensive and very pretty on the plate. I’m also a big fan of rhubarb, another bright-coloured vegetable (often mistakenly called a fruit). It’s been a great delight to find local rhubarb available in wintertime, now that it’s being grown in darkened barns in many northern hemisphere countries. The best part? This forced variety is even sweeter than what gets harvested outdoors in early spring. The combination of rhubarb and beets in a salad makes for an explosion of colour as well as a balanced, sweet-tart flavour. To make this a complete meal, you could serve the beet and rhubarb salad over cooked quinoa or couscous.
- 5 lbs (700 g) beets (a mix of red, golden, candy cane is really pretty)
- ¼ cup (60 mL) olive oil, divided
- 3/4 lb (300 g) rhubarb, washed and cut in 1 inch / 2.5cm pieces
- 4 tsp (20 mL) white sugar
- 2 tsp (10 mL) cider vinegar
- 2 tsp (10 mL) Balsamic
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) maple syrup
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
- 1/8 tsp (.65 mL) ground cinnamon
- 1 small shallot, very thinly sliced
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/2 cup (100g) goat cheese or feta, crumbled (omit for vegan version)
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Scrub beets and trim ends. Leave small beets (less than 2 inches / 5 cm in diameter) whole; cut larger beets into halves or quarters to approximate that size. Lay the beets in a baking pan and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Cover pan with a tight lid or foil.
- Roast beets for 40 – 50 minutes, until the largest pieces are tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife.
- While beets are cooking, combine rhubarb and sugar in a bowl, then transfer the mixture to a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake alongside the beets for 8 – 10 minutes, until tender-crisp (think al dente pasta). Set aside to cool.
- While rhubarb and beets are cooking, add the cider vinegar, balsamic, maple syrup, remaining olive oil, cinnamon and shallots to a jar with a tight lid. Cover and shake to combine well.
- When beets are cooked, let them cool for a few moments then then peel and cut into 3/4 inch (2 cm) cubes.
- To assemble, put the cooked beets in a serving bowl and drizzle the dressing over them, stirring gently to coat the beets. Taste and add salt and/or pepper to your liking.
- Just before serving, add the rhubarb and any accumulated juices plus salt and pepper to taste to the beets. Sprinkle with cheese and parsley.