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Beets with Garlic and Walnut Sauce

Beets, garlic and walnuts combine for a great taste treat.Beets are root vegetables with edible, leafy green tops. The most common beets are deep red, but there are gold, white and candy-cane striped varieties. I really enjoy the flavor of the green tops, which remind me of Swiss chard.

Beets are always used cooked either as a side dish, in salads or in soups. Roasting brings out the earthy flavors, but they can be boiled, steamed or microwaved. It is better not to peel or cut them before cooking.

Beets are a popular dish in many of the countries we visit on our tours: Eastern Europeans use them especially in soups, Italians and Spaniards in salads as a side dish, and French eat them as part of their plate of ‘crudités’ or raw vegetables that they serve often before the main dish (although the beets are cooked).

Ingredients for 4-5 people:
Two pounds or about 4 large red beets trimmed of greens
¼ cup olive oil
6 cloves of garlic, peeled
½ cup walnuts

2 Tbps to ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
Salt and black pepper to taste
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves, for garnish

The Beets: Boil the beets in water for about 25-30 minutes or when a fork or knife can pierce the beet with little resistance. (You can also bake them for 60-90 minutes, individually wrapped in foil on a cooking sheet). Peel off the skins and slice beets into wedges or cubes.

The Dressing: Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. When warm, add garlic and cook until fragrant and beginning to soften, about 6 minutes. Add walnuts and continue to cook until they begin to color, another 4 minutes. (Do not brown them or they will taste bitter). When mixture has cooled slightly, put in food processor until you have a relatively smooth paste. Add orange juice and sprinkle with salt and lots of pepper. Toss beets and dressing together, adjust seasoning, maybe even add a few drops of olive oil, garnish with parsley and serve.

Another possibility from our recipe archive is Beet and Feta Salad with Honey-Oregano Vinaigrette.

Whichever you choose, enjoy! Paola

Adapted from a New York Times recipe (March 4, 2009).