I used to be very hesitant to try recipes that I found on the Internet. I think it stemmed from the fact that a friend always made dishes with such recipes, and they always left something to be desired. I've definitely gotten over my reluctance, though I am still careful about the source.
Of course, if you do a lot of cooking then it's pretty easy to determine if a recipe makes sense from the chemistry, the flavor and the aesthetic viewpoints. This is one of those recipes. It comes — of all places — from the quarterly e-newsletter of the Library of American Landscape History. Though the LALH gave it a rather prosaic name, I think its bright, intense colors make it look like a plate of jewels!
RAW BEET AND CARROT SLAW
5 medium to large beets, peeled and grated
8 carrots, peeled and grated
3 tbsp. parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp. sesame seeds
2 tbsp. olive oil
½ tsp. sesame oil
4 tbsp. red wine vinegar
juice of 1 orange
1 tbsp. honey
1 ½ tsp. salt
Several twists of fresh-ground black pepper
Mix the ingredients for the vinaigrette and set aside. Trim off the tops and bottoms of the beets and peel. Grate beets with a food processor or hand grater. In a large bowl, toss grated beets and vinaigrette. Cover, refridgerate and marinate for two hours, allowing the beets to soften and absorb the flavors. Stir occasionally to keep beets evenly coated.
Half-an-hour before the beets finish marinating, peel and grate the carrots and chop the parsley. When beets are done, remove them from the fridge and toss with carrots, parsley, and sesame seeds. Adjust seasoning to taste.
EDITOR'S NOTES: I made a couple of changes and additions. First I cut the recipe in half using three beets and four carrots to serve three of us. I added some grated ginger root to the vinaigrette. Then I marinated the beets and carrots separately to keep the colors bright and never mixed them as the directions call for. I plated the salad just like the photo above. I also added black sesame seeds to the carrots, left out the white sesame seeds and just added parsley to the beets.
I served this salad one night with chicken curry and saffron rice and another with a smokey grilled flank steak. It held its own with the strong flavors of both of these dishes.
If you like gardening and history, sign up for the newsletter of the Library of American Landscape History. It is always filled with interesting tidbits about designers, historic properties, new books and more. The current newsletter notes that LALH is republishing Fletcher Steele's "Design in the Little Garden." I am lucky enough to have a first edition of this wonderful little book. It would make a valuable addition to any gardener's library. And at only $20, it's a more affordable purchase than many garden books.
Though published originally in 1924, I think it holds up well and is especially valuable for city folks with limited space. It includes an elegantly useful design for a little tool shed that is a long narrow structure that could be built against the side of the house or garage or even a board fence. And Steele includes one of my favorite sections of any garden design book: he takes three adjacent properties of the same size and shape with similar houses and landscapes each one differently. All three include an area labeled "drying yard" for drying clothes outdoors.
Photos and recipe by Jessica Dawson / LIBRARY OF AMERICAN LANDSCAPE HISTORY