This salad came together quite by happenstance. At our annual Independence Day block party one year, someone brought a salad with both beets and tomatoes in it; someone else brought a fruit salad full of dead ripe, thickly sliced strawberries. I put a good spoonful of each side-by-side on my plate. Somehow during dinner, a chunk of strawberry made its way over into vegetable territory, where it was promptly stabbed with a fork and then drawn through the dressing with a small piece of beet and a slice of tomato. The rest is history. (Since then, I've made this adding a few pickled beets as well, which makes it even better. You can also just use jarred pickled beets, if that is more convenient.) Enjoy!! ;o) —AntoniaJames
3 medium beets (or a combination of raw beets and pickled beets, or just pickled beets)
3 medium sized, dead ripe, heat-of-summer tomatoes
1 large shallot or 1/4 of a small red onion (optional), diced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt, to taste
2 tablespoons really good olive oil
6 or 8 strawberries, trimmed and sliced thickly, lengthwise
Remove the tops from the beets (reserving for another use – see note below), thoroughly clean and trim the beets, then wrap them in foil. Put the packet in a small baking dish and roast in a hot oven – 400 degrees Fahrenheit – for about 45 minutes, or until they’re easily pierced with a paring knife. (To use less aluminium foil, you can also put them in a shallow baking dish and cover tightly with foil.)
While the beets are cooking, first make the dressing: In the bowl in which you plan to serve the salad, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice and salt, until the salt is dissolved. Then whisk in the olive oil, a tablespoon or so at a time.
Trim and cut the tomatoes either into vertical slices or wedges, and then toss them gently with the dressing and the shallot or red onion, if using.
When the beets are done roasting, remove them from the oven and slowly open the foil, taking care not to get burned by the steam. Let the beets cool until you can easily handle them. Then, slip the peels off and either slice the beets, or cut each one into 6 or 8 wedges. (Cut into the same shape as the cut tomatoes.)
Add to the bowl with the tomatoes and gently toss. Then add the strawberry slices and toss very gently one more time.
Test for salt and correct, if necessary. Let the salad sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
Toss gently again, and then, test for salt and correct, if necessary. Finally, grind some good black pepper over the salad.
N.B. When I make this, I save the dressing that's left in the bottom of the bowl after everyone's served. The beet, tomato and strawberry juices make it perfectly delicious. (Seriously, you could drink it.) I whisk a bit more olive oil into it, then use it to dress the beet greens, which I've lightly sauteed and then cooled. ;o)
About black pepper: I put a tablespoon of allspice berries in with the peppercorns in my large pepper grinder, to perk it up. This is a trick I picked up from an Edward Behr book from the early 90s. The ratio is about 8:1. You don't taste the allspice; it just gives the pepper a wonderful brightness. I highly recommend this.
When I'm not working (negotiating transactions for internet companies), or outside enjoying the gorgeous surroundings here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I'm likely to be cooking, shopping for food, planning my next culinary experiment, or researching, voraciously, whatever interests me. In my kitchen, no matter what I am doing -- and I actually don't mind cleaning up -- I am deeply grateful for having the means to create, share with others and eat great food. Life is very good. ;o)