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Summer Fest: 4 Beet Salad Best Bets

Red or gold, beets are rich in folates, potassium and vitamins niacin, pantothenic acid and pyridoxine. The red variety is higher in anthocyanins, which are believed to have strong antioxidant properties. Choose beets with tops attached and, if you’re cooking a bunch at one time, try to keep them similarly sized. They can be stored in plastic bags in the refrigerator for about two weeks but you’ll probably be tempted to eat them right away. Featuring them in hot or cold salads really lets their flavor shine.

1. Beet Salad with Crispy Goat Cheese (pictured above)
If you’ve got the time and can roast your own beets, cooking them for an hour or so at 400 degrees F while wrapped in foil with a drizzle of olive oil should do the trick. If you’re in a rush, the packs of already roasted and sealed baby beets are a huge time saver. Serve the lemon juice, honey, olive oil, tarragon and almond-topped beet salad with warm, crispy goat cheese rounds.

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Dinner Rush! Beet Salad With Crispy Goat Cheese

I resorted to blowing the dust off from one of my old culinary schoolbooks the other night while canvassing for confirmation of a culinary fact in dispute. Welcome to my world. As I cracked the spine and thumbed through pages of notes (I’m a big advocate of writing in my books), an unexpected kick of nostalgia provided inspiration for that night’s dinner plans.

One of my culinary school’s go-to “beginner” recipes was a super simple but amazingly satisfying beet salad tossed with mustard vinaigrette and topped with a crispy round of goat cheese. It’s a salad with a bit of everything going on: roasted vegetables, a basic vinaigrette and a warm and crispy garnish. It was a total benchmark of achievement to go from having it served to you as a freshman to preparing it for others as a sophomore.

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Beet Salad with Walnuts, Dates, and Plenty of Garlic

Garlicky Beet Salad Recipe

When it comes time for Russian soirees, there’s no shortage of little bites, known in Russian as zakuski, that precede the main event. Personally, I’ve always been of the zakuski persuasion myself, enjoying the generous spread and often skipping the main course all together.

The word zakuski comes from the word zakusit, meaning “to have a snack”, but really it’s more of a vodka chaser than anything, which would explain why the assortment of various zakuski always includes pickles, herring, tiny meat pies, diminutive bread slices with bites of caviar or salami, and potent salads. The idea is to awaken your palate, to make you hungry for the meal to come. But for me, it’s always meant that my favorite snacks were together in one place.

One of my favorite zakuski family members is this intensely garlicky beet salad that’s ubiquitous at any family gathering. Russian delis also sell them by the quart, making it almost pointless to spend time making your own. But as I’ve tried to use as much organic produce as possible, it’s worth that extra effort.

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