Ulli's Beet Salad
It’s hard to argue with something that nature makes bright red. Beets are full of nutritious, colorful antioxidants that bring anti-inflammation to a new level plus provide a nice helping of Vitamin C, iron, magnesium, folic acid and fiber. And you all know how much I like fiber!
Those colorful compounds like betanin are particularly interesting. Ever notice a color change in your urine or stool after eating a large portion of beets? Don’t worry, it’s not dangerous. Some people cannot break down betanin and therefor excrete it in their waste. Rhubarb and swiss chard also have betanin in them, which gives them their pretty red color. It’s just in higher amounts in a bright red beet. To avoid getting this ruby red all over your hands during preparation, I recommend wearing a pair of disposable gloves when handling beets. It makes things SUPER easy.
Beets are also rich in natural nitrates, which the body converts to nitric oxide. Nitric oxide relaxes blood vessel constriction and allows for better blood flow (hence why we use nitroglycerin to ease chest pain). Nitric oxide helps the blood vessels stay relaxed, which ultimately means better blood pressure control. Thank you Hippocrates, who said, “Let food by thy medicine, and medicine be thy food."
Beets are sweet, so they pair well with more savory elements and side dishes. When vegetables taste sweet to you, let Nature instruct your intake. Even though beets are a vegetable, I don’t recommend eating them with abandon. Have a reasonable portion of sweeter vegetables like beets, squash and potatoes and find your own balance with more bitter greens.
As I do with almost all vegetables that come with a stem, I sautéed the beet tops with a little onion and garlic in EVOO and made a delightful savory side to my sweet dishes. It’s all about balance, after all, right?
Some notes on this delightful side dish. You can buy your beets raw and roast or pressure cook them yourself, or you can buy them already cooked. Feta tastes awesome, but if you’re 100% plant based then you can very easily substitute with Miyoko’s Fresh VeganMozz, which crumbles nicely. I also recommend investing in a higher quality thick balsamic vinegar or reducing your thin balsamic vinegar over the stove on low heat until it’s thicker. Just don’t cook it too long or most of the liquid will disintegrate and you’ll have a sticky hard mess on your hands.
4 medium-large or 6 small-medium red or yellow beets, cooked
1 semi-soft avocado, sliced or cubed
2 Tbsp crumbled feta cheese or Miyoko’s Fresh VeganMozz
½ cup cilantro, chopped
2 Tbsp capers
1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1-2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (see note above)
Salt & Pepper, to taste
1. Cook your beets by roasting them in the oven at 375 degrees for approximately 45 minutes or using a pressure cooker. Or buy them pre-cooked!
2. When beets are cool, peel and slice into 1/8 inch slices and spread them on a plate.
3. Sprinkle beets with avocado, feta cheese/VeganMozz, cilantro, and capers.
4. Drizzle EVOO and balsamic vinegar in your most artistic pattern on top (this part was actually very fun – I felt like a real chef!)
5. Season with salt and pepper.