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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

nonna's summer beet salad.

when i stop and think of summer, food is the very first thing that comes to mind -- followed closely by the beach, the cottage and of course, booze. however when you think about it, you can't really have one without the other, they all go perfectly hand in hand. summers have always brought with them my nonno's garden packed to the tits with fresh and beautiful veggies and herbs, from his perfectly ripe tomatoes, to fragrant bushes of waist-high basil, to one of my very favourite crops since i was just a wee thing: beets. as a team, nonno plants and tends to the beets, while nonna picks them and prepares them into what is hands-down the best beet salad i have ever had. if she has them in the house, you can bet your ass i am shovelling them into my mouth, and every single bite somehow tastes better than the last. while visiting them for lunch on monday (a 'sangweech' and a bottle of blue in the backyard), i managed to score some of my tasty little friends, and didn't waste any time whipping up a salad that would knock my nonna's little cotton socks clean off.

how we do: nonna's summer beet salad
{serves 4}
prep time: 5 minutes
cook time: 30 minutes

you will need:
15-20 medium sized beets
5 leaves of basil
2 cloves of garlic
red wine vinegar
olive oil
salt & pepper
begin by thoroughly washing your beets and removing the caca from the tops and bottoms, leaving the skins on. bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and add your beets, allowing them to cook until fork tender or approximately 30 minutes. while your beets are cooking, you can make the dressing for your salad.
growing up there was only one dressing that ever graced our cucina table, and this my friends, is it:
2/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
salt & pepper to taste
i'm giving measurements for the sake of the recipe, but i'm telling you now, this dressing will always turn out best when eyeballed like nonna does -- the day she pulls a measuring cup out to make this dressing is the day she grows average height and stops trying to sneak $20 dollar bills into my bra while saying goodbye. my go-to dressing for the majority of the salads i prepare, with minor adjustments depending on which salad i'm making (i add dried oregano if making a greek salad, or dijon mustard if making a warm steak & wild mushroom salad), and it is exactly what i need it to be. not so overpowering that you can't taste the ingredients in the salad itself, but just enough to compliment it. for the beet salad, i added 5 leaves of basil fresh from nonno's garden. in a small mason jar, combine the oil, vinegar, basil and salt & pepper, shake it up and voila!
*easiest way to cut basil: lay the leaves flat on top of one another, largest to smallest, roll into a basil-like-joint (one that even bob marley himself would be proud of), and cut down the length to form long ribbons. 
once the beets are cooked and ready, strain them off and run cold water over them, within a few minutes they should be cool to the touch and you can begin peeling them. with the water still running, roll the beets in your hands and the peels should slide clean off. rinse those bad boys off and allow them to fully cool to room temperature.
with your beets cooled you can cut them into nice rustic sized pieces -- nonna quarters them so that's how i do it. she also adds 2 cloves of sliced garlic, which adds a lot of flavour without blowing your head off. toss in your dressing, tasting until you are happy with the amounts of salt & pepper. there are not a lot of things in this world that makes me drool like a fresh beet salad, and with that said, i'm off to finish the last of what i have somehow managed to save from our dinner last night, and clean the drool from my keyboard.


  1. I'm gonna need to find me some beets ASAP!

  2. This is so simple yet looks like it would satisfy me quick-smart!

    1. I'm pretty sure it's easy enough that Willem could make it ;)


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