Dec 03

IMG_2311beet340When my Mother-in-law asked me the week before Thanksgiving if there were any traditional recipes I was used to having for the holiday meal, I didn’t dare say a word about my raw brussel sprout salad. It being my first year celebrating with my new husband’s parents, I wanted to make the best impression I could. As a professional chef I feel a self-imposed pressure to impress those I care about with my culinary creations. While my raw brussel sprout salad has always been a family favorite in previous years, and the only dish aside from turkey to make a regular appearance on the table, I know that the idea of it takes some getting used to.

But I still couldn’t deny my fondness for raw vegetable salads and the desire to introduce it to my new in-laws. I mean if Thanksgiving isn’t the time to share favorite recipes with family, I don’t know when is.  So to warm them up to the idea of eating raw root vegetables, I chose instead to make a beet salad that is adapted from a Jaime Oliver recipe in his book Cook with Jaime. The compilation is a gorgeous entanglement of sweet red and yellow beets, that are sliced painstakingly thin to enhance their delightful crunch and palatability. Intertwined in the mix are ribbons of carrot, apple, fennel and thin slivers of scallion which are bound together by a maple apple cider vinaigrette. Flecks of sliced mint and parsley add an underlying herbal note to the salad, and a final sprinkling of sunflower seeds and crumbled feta deliciously ties the whole thing together.

IMG_0154beet340Despite the tremendous beauty of this salad, I was not entirely surprised when it was met at the table with raised eyebrows all around. I am well aware that some people have a strong aversion to beets, due to their association with the jarred pickled variety, and for others the simple idea of biting into one raw is enough to make their lips curl. I passed the bowl around in silence as everyone politely spooned a small amount onto their plates.

Well it should go without saying that if everyone hated it, I wouldn’t be sitting here blogging about the recipe. In fact it was the surprise favorite of the whole Thanksgiving dinner and the most complimented dish at the table. Two days after returning home from the festivities, I checked my email to find a message from my sister-in-law saying “I am a full convert from the Beet-haters-club” and with recently purchased beets in tow, she had scoured my website looking for the recipe. “Would you consider sharing it?” she asked. Smugly, I hit reply and began to envision a day when the brussel sprout salad would make its first appearance.

Raw Beet Salad with Sunflower Seeds, Feta, and Apple Cider Vinaigrette

adapted from Jaime Oliver’s recipe for Cruncy Raw Beetroot Salad

Ingredients:IMG_2510beet340

4 large beets, peeled

2 carrots, peeled

1 crisp apple, washed and unpeeled

I small bulb of fennel

2 bunches scallions, cleaned then sliced thinly (discard the root piece)

juice of 1 lemon

2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (sherry vinegar is a good substitute)

4 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp maple syrup

salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbsp fresh mint leaves, chopped or sliced fine

1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds for garnish

crumbled feta cheese for garnish

IMG_2518beet340Method: Using a Japanese mandoline, thinly slice the beets, apple, and carrot. Working in batches, hold the slices in a small stack and cut the entire pile into a thin julienne. You should end up with a big mound of matchstick pieces that you can place in a large bowl. Trim the stalks off of the fennel so you are left with a round, rather than tall, bulb. Slice the top half of the bulb very thinly into rings, using a Japanese mandoline. Reserve the bottom third of the bulb for another use. Add the fennel to the bowl.

Add all of the remaining ingredients to this except for the salt, pepper, seeds and feta, and toss to combine. Then adjust the seasoning to taste. Depending on your preference for sweetness or acidity you can add more or less maple syrup, vinegar, or olive oil.  Add the crumbled cheese and sunflower kernels as a garnish.

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3 Responses to “Raw Beet Salad with Sunflower Seeds, Feta and Apple Cider Vinaigrette”

  1. Tara says:

    Made it today- me and my family were amazed! Thank you, it’s beyond delicious.

  2. keke says:

    Thank you for sharing this. It looks wonderful! I can’t wait to make it!

  3. The salad’s colors are perfect for the holiday season, and a raw salad with fresh seasonal produce is the perfect antidote to all that heavy holiday food. I love this salad, Molly!

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