Food & Wine (January 2011)
You can be forgiven if you think, when reading the title of this post, that a Beet-and-Apple Salad sounds, well, a little dull. At first blush, it sounds pleasant but not exciting, tasty but not delicious.
And that's where first impressions can steer you wrong, because we're happy to report that this salad is anything but ennui-inducing.
The reason? It has a secret ingredient, a component you'd never expect in a salad like this.
We have a well documented near-obsession with beets. In nearly three years of writing The Bitten Word, we've made at least six beet salads (our four favorites can be found at the bottom of this post). And we've had tons more beets we haven't posted about. We never tire of experimenting with new ways to use them in our kitchen.
And this recipe -- selected because of our beet crush -- is a perfect example of why we love writing this blog. We picked the recipe out of Food & Wine thinking it would likely be a pretty decent beet salad. But honestly, we were blown away.
This salad's ace-in-the-hole isn't deliciously roasted beets, crisp green apples or the added crunch of crushed pistachios.
The thing that makes this dish a massive success is a vinaigrette made with apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, and the secret ingredient.
So just what is this secret ingredient? Surprisingly, it's horseradish.
We don't use a lot of horseradish in our kitchen. We mostly keep some hand for when it's time to make a Bloody Mary. In truth, our most recent small jar of prepared horseradish expired before we were able to use it all; so needless to say, we're not flying through the stuff.
But that may now change, because in this salad, horseradish elevates what would be a good salad into a great salad by adding just the right amount of spicy heat. Combined with the sweet beets and bright apples, the mustardy, cider-spiked vinaigrette -- punched up by horseradish -- adds a subtle spiciness that results in a salad that we absolutely loved.
We have two quick tips as it relates to making this salad.
First, feel free to roast the beats a day ahead. The only thing that makes the cook time here so lengthy -- at 2 hours, 15 minutes -- is that the beets need to be roasted for 1 hour and 45 minutes, and then cooled. We roasted our beets a day in advance, wrapped them up in the dish in which they were baked, and then stored them in the fridge overnight. When we were ready to assemble the salad the next day -- which takes no time at all -- we slipped off the skins and diced them up.
Second, we would recommend that you not follow the instructions in the recipe for applying vinaigrette to the beets. In the recipe, you whisk up the ingredients in a bowl, and then add the beets to the bowl. Rather than do this, we would recommend that you toss the beets with vinaigrette in a second bowl, first adding the beets and then the dressing, adding a tablespoon or two at a time. This will allow you to exercise more control over the amount of vinaigrette in the salad. Plus, if you're concerned about the dressing being too spicy, this will help you mitigate that. We found that for the size of our beets, we only needed a portion of the vinaigrette -- we saved the leftovers in a jar that we plan to eat on a green salad later this week.
If you're not a beet fan, we encourage you to give this salad a try. We think you'll be wowed!
Other Beet Salads You May Enjoy:
- Italian Parsley and Raw Beet Salad
- Golden Beet Salad
- Beet Salad with Cornbread Croutons and Country Ham
- Beet and Tangerine Salad with Cranberry Dressing
- ACTIVE: 30 MIN
- TOTAL TIME: 2 HRS 15 MIN
- SERVINGS: 8
- 4 large beets (2 1/2 pounds)
- 5 thyme sprigs
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup apple-cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
- 1/3 cup salted pistachios, chopped
- 1 green apple, thinly sliced
- Preheat the oven to 375°. In a baking dish, lightly drizzle the beets and thyme with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and roast until the beets are tender, about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Let cool, then peel the beets and cut them into 3/4-inch dice.
- In a large bowl, whisk the vinegar with the mustard. Whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup of oil until emulsified. Add the horseradish and season with salt and pepper; toss with the beets and pistachios. Transfer the beets to a platter, top with the apple and serve.