Thursday, March 03, 2011

Toward the perfect beet slaw

While I've discussed my affection for beet slaw in the past, my relationship to the stuff has since escalated into somewhat of an obsession. For the past month, I've been whipping up a huge batch of slaw every week, and eating a good helping every day with lunch or dinner; the vinegar, salt, and spices ensure it keeps well in the fridge, and the flavor improves with time. (On a related note: remind me never to go back in time to before I had a food processor, k?)

This slaw is especially great to have on hand in the winter, when tasty raw vegetables can be few and far between. And if you happen to have an overnight guest (don't judge me), serve this slaw alongside the obligatory omelet for an impressive late breakfast.

Now that I've made half a dozen or so batches of the stuff, I've finally got a recipe I think is good enough to share. This slaw is a little spicy from the mustard, naturally sweet from the beets, with a great puckery tang from the lemon and vinegar. Don't be tempted to omit the raw shallot/red onion - it's key to keeping things interesting here.

This isn't a good recipe to attempt if you have a hand-modeling gig later in the afternoon, but it would be totally fine to make the same day as you're planning to dye your hair with Manic Panic, or possibly work on your car.

NB: This isn't one of those "serve this to the beet-haters in your family - it'll convert them!" recipes. You should seriously like beets to go down this road. My mom and President Obama: this isn't for you.

Best Beet Slaw

2-4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup apple cider or red wine vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
1 tablespoon lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 cup mild extra virgin olive oil
1 small red onion or 2 shallots (will yield 1/2 cup sliced)
3-4 large beets, peeled (will yield 6-7 cups shredded)
agave nectar to taste, optional

1. Put on an apron, preferably a full apron, but if you wear a cute half-apron like I do, cinch that thing right up around your natural waist for maximum coverage (plus: flattering!)
2. Whisk together mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest, pepper, and salt until thoroughly combined. Pour olive oil into vinegar mixture slowly in a thin stream, and whisk until emulsified. Set dressing aside.
3. I'm serious about the apron thing. Do it. Things are going to get seriously messy.
4. Cut up beets into manageable pieces and shred on the larger shred side of your food processor. Do that thing where you futilely try to get it to shred those weird pieces that get stuck on the top of the disc a couple of times, then give up on them.
6. Ok, fine, go ahead and make the Macbeth joke, we know you're dying to.
What, will these little hands ne'er be clean?

5. Slice onion/shallots in half around the equator and slice on your mandoline's thinnest setting. Totally use the hand guard, because you always do, right? Safety first, that's your motto.
6. Toss shredded beets with onion slices in a large bowl. The onions tend to clump when sliced so thinly, so use your hands for this.
7. Give the dressing a quick stir to make sure it hasn't settled, and pour over beet/onion mixture. Fold until evenly distributed.
8. Let slaw sit for an hour or two (during which time: clean up! - sorry), adjust seasonings (adding agave to taste if your beets aren't quite sweet enough), and serve.

The aftermath


Melissa said...

Hi Anna - glad to see you're back on the blog! I also just posted for the first time in a while! I've been thinking I need to do something drastic like NaBloPoMo, but I don't seems kinda crazy. Good luck with it.

btw...what's the word on your other hand?!

anna said...

Thanks! I'm glad to be back too. I've been thinking about relaunching PS as a daily for awhile, so this will be a good experiment to see if it's possible What if the other hand said "beets"? Naw, it also says "love."

Melissa said...

I just knew it wasn't "hate." You don't strike me as a hater. I love unusual knuckle tattoos!