Thursday, February 17, 2011

Beet&B.Sprout Salad

The beet is a Trotskyite, a wool skirt wearing Sarah Lawerence girl with a babuska’s headscarf. Under its peasant soil, its muddy topcoat, the red flesh vibrates, singing socialist love songs. The beet is sentimental, cresting manic on waves of sugar highs. You will find yourself nostalgic as you wash away some one else’s soil, some one else’s pied a terre. It is impossible not to wonder where the beet came from, when washing away its history, when stripping away its regionality. It is equally impossible not to consider your own history, your own regionality, and the odd bits of dirt and soil clinging on for dear life. The beet, as both Sonny&Cher knew, goes on.

The Brussel Sprout has an attitude; like the Lollipop Guild. I imagine them speaking in unison with Brooklyn accents and Borscht-belt high kicks. They’ll scatter across your counters, roll beneath your refrigerator. Don’t get mad; they’re just having a good time. They’re a hoot, Brussel Sprouts.

Each is strong individually and doubly bright when complimented with the other. Imagine Marlene Dietrich & Groucho Marx. Or Beatty & Keaton.

This salad is romantic in a kind and sweet, 70s epic “Reds” kind of way. It is strewn together from side dishes from previous meals and made into a salad that can be picked at for days to come. It pretends to be pragmatic, but really it is about how good it tastes … right now.

That’s the thing about roasted beets and brussel sprouts, they don’t look back. Sure, you may get weepy while skinning the beets; but the act of eating is totally encompassing. The flavors careen across your palate, excited as love can be, giddy and speedy. The tartness of the balsamic vinegar is accented by the smoke in the roasted vegetables. Reminiscence is left in the preparation, where it belongs.

• Left Over Roasted Beets - 3-4, diced.
• Left Over Roasted Brussel Sprouts - 1-2 handfuls, halved
• Balsamic Vinegar – ¼ cup
• EVOO – 2 TBS
• Salt – 1 TBS
• Fresh Ground Black Pepper
• Fresh Dill, chopped, about that much

I love second chance food. I love how optimistic it is. I love that second incarnations are natural in the world of food. Though the act of roasting beets is wholly fulfilling, though the smell of a fresh roasted beet has the kind of juju behind it like to call out like Cassandra; on the second day, having cooled into a satin skinned, lush body, the next-day beet dices easily and will make you feel like a badass with your knife skills, which is always nice.

Halve the brussel sprouts. The top leaves will strip away slow and deliberate as Salome.

Toss the diced beats with the halved brussel sprouts. Use the shiny metal bowl that is really slidy. I find that listening to Louis Prima is a good idea in situations like this.

The beets will begin to stain the exposed white halves of the sprouts to a blushing, Hester Prynne red. The beats themselves will begin to look like the guilty and sexy side of a bruise.

Add the vinegar and respect it for the potion that it is. Don’t tell me vinegar isn’t magic. Vinegar, itself, is a second chance. Add the oil, knowing it to be olive tears.

The salt and the pepper, each, should be added with as much panache as possible. When or where else, really, do you get the chance?

Dill always seems like a grandmotherly cheat, some Eastern European wool over eyes kind of thing. I was always suspicious of what was being shrouded behind this cold war seasoning. But when I started eating fresh dill all of my paranoia was washed away on the immediacy of flavor that comes from fresh dill. Fresh dill reminds me of the sweet parts of Watership Down.

In the end the ingredients will blend through strata of sweet and savory leaving a joyful gang of flavor.


  1. wow! scarlet letter, sexy bruises, watership down... totally hooked on this Phil!!

  2. i love this so much. the story and the food...what a perfect relationship. can't wait to learn how to cook from you! brussel sprouts and beets are already my 2 favorites! -iowa