Salad shouldn't be an obligation or an afterthought -- and it doesn't always have to be kale, either. Every other Thursday, Elizabeth Stark from Brooklyn Supper will help you make salads you actually want to eat.
Today: We're so close to spring, but we're not there just yet. Let winter's sweet, earthy beets and spring's greens and alliums push you gently toward the new season.
Even with blue skies and hordes of chirping birds, the surge of spring produce is still a ways off. And while I'm eager to make a salad with a main ingredient that's some shade of green and isn't a root, for now I'm making the best of this in-between season and embracing beets, which I know I'll be missing soon enough.
One of the things I'll miss most about beets will be how easy they are to cook and store in batches, which saves time and allows some experimentation throughout the week. It's nice to have a beet salad ready and waiting whenever the mood strikes -- it's like practice for the easy eating of summer.
For this salad, I made garlic confit -- a nice thing to make in advance and have on hand, especially since it will keep happily in the fridge for a month (though you'll probably use it all first). Cloves of garlic and fresh bay leaves simmered in olive oil give even so-so garlic a smoky depth that transforms everything from root vegetables to leafy greens.
With their earthy sweetness, beets easily make the jump from winter to spring. Here, they’re covered with foil and roasted until tender, then tossed with a wonderfully complex vinaigrette with garlic confit and raspberry vinegar, plus maple, soy, and spices. Beets mingle with the dressing in the fridge and get tossed with beet greens and green onions at the last minute. The resulting beet salad has hints of acidity, sweetness, and spice, while the beet greens and green onions lend a real deal spring flavor.
More: You've made the confit, now figure out how to free your hands from garlic odors.
For the garlic confit:
2 large heads garlic, bottoms cut off, broken into cloves, and peeled
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 bay leaves
For the marinated beet salad:
8 medium beets with greens (2 bunches)
6 oil-poached garlic cloves
2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
1 tablespoon garlic-infused extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon grainy mustard
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
3 green onions, minced
Photos by Elizabeth Stark