The art of simple food
March 31, 2011
Last week I picked up a used copy of Alice Water's The Art of Simple Food at my local library book sale. It was perhaps the best and most satisfying $5 I've spent recently.
Though it isn't a new cookbook, it is indeed a delicious revolution.
The chapter I'm digging into, pardon my corny self, is Salads.
There is no meal or side dish quite so simply elegant and satisfying as the salad. When Waters writes, "I love salad. I love to wash it. I love to eat it. As far as I'm concerned, a meal withut one is incomplete," I feel as if she has channeled my thoughts exactly.
So it is with great delight and anticipation that I peruse her writings on the composed salad, the art of combining and arranging ingredients on a plate. I anticipate the mesclun and fresh herbs from my edible garden- if I can wrest them from the digging squirrels - as mainstays on many a happy plate from my kitchen.
The joy of salad making for me is the infinte variety. From fresh seasonal vegetables and fruits to tasty roast leftover meats to slivers of nuts and cheese, there are many and diverse ways to build a lovely salad.
Here is a recipe using one of my favorite ingredients, the beautiful beet.
Recipe: Marinated beet salad
Alice Waters, "The Art of Simple Food"
Beets of different colors make a very beautiful salad. Dress the red ones separately so their color doesn’t bleed all over the others.
- 1 pound beets (red, Chioggia, golden, or white)
- 1 teaspoon vinegar (red wine, sherry, or white wine vinegar)
- 1 to 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil.
Trim the greens to 1/2 inch from 1 pound beets (red, Chioggia, golden or white).
Wash thoroughly. Put them in a baking dish with a little water (enough to cover the bottom of the dish to a depth of 1/8 inch) and sprinkle with salt.
Cover tightly and bake the beets in a 350°F oven until they can be easily pierced with a sharp knife, 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on their size. Uncover and cool. Cut off the tops and roots and slip off the skins. Cut the peeled beets into small wedges or 1/4-inch dice and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon vinegar (red wine, sherry or white wine vinegar) and salt.
Let stand for a few minutes to allow the beets to absorb the flavor. Taste and add more salt or vinegar as needed. Toss with 1 to 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil.
Serve alone, or with other salads.
- Substitute fresh orange juice for some of the vinegar and toss with grated orange zest.
- Toss with 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs such as mint, tarragon or cilantro.