Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Beet and Fennel Salad




Mmmm beets.
Better yet: beets and fennel.
Better even still: beets, fennel, and vermouth.
Oh yes.

I have recently subscribed to the big daddy of online food forums: chow.com. And now I receive daily emails with suggested recipes. Like salads that include beets, fennel, and vermouth. Which confirmed my suspicions that I had indeed made the right choice in joining the millions on the site.
To be honest, I had no idea how this recipe would turn out. I rarely cook beets (due to their rather unfortunate tendency of staining your hands for days), but I thought, "What the heck?", live dangerously and make a beet salad.

And it was worth it. Absolutely. I know the picture may look a tad odd, but I guarantee the flavors will make up for the slightly ostentatious redness of the dish.

I cooked the beets myself but almost every grocery store now sells those of the pre-cooked variety, taking your cooking time down from 45 minutes to about 15. The dish which results from those 15 minutes looks so elegant and out of the ordinary, well, you'll find yourself claiming that you really did slave for hours to create the perfect side dish for your meal. We all know better but go ahead, take the credit.

You deserve it.

Ingredients

6 medium red or Chioggia beets
2 large fennel bulbs
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick)
Salt

Freshly ground black pepper"
1/3 cup dry vermouth
2 tablespoons whole-grain Dijon mustard
Juice of 1 medium lemon
1/2 bunch chives, finely chopped
1/2 bunch tarragon, leaves picked, finely chopped

Method

1.  Place the beets in a large pot, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Once
boiling, reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the beets are fork tender, about 30 minutes.
Drain, then peel under cold running water. Set the beets aside to cool.

2.  Trim any green tops off the fennel and slice the bulbs in half lengthwise. Remove the core from
each half and slice the bulbs lengthwise in 1/4-inch-thick strips.

3.  Return the large pot to the stove, add the olive oil and butter, and heat over medium heat. When
the butter foams, add the fennel, season well with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring
occasionally, until just tender, about 5 minutes.

4.  Add the vermouth, mustard, and lemon juice and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, slice the peeled beets into  rounds (1/4-1/2 inch thick should do the trick). Add the beets to the pot and cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes more.

Stir in the herbs, taste, and adjust the seasoning as desired.

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