Beets. Nothing polarizes the sexes quite like them. Well, maybe frozen yogurt, strip clubs, and perhaps inane declarations about the differences between men and women. Nevertheless, lots of men I know think that beets taste like dirt, and many of the women I know like the fact that they taste like dirt.
But that’s where golden beets come in. They have a slightly mellower, less “earthy” flavor than their red brethren and they are still packed with folate, potassium, and beta-carotene. Also, you won’t have Lady Macbeth hands after handling the golden variety. Roasting any beet enhances its natural sweetness; then after roasting, the skin easily slips off under running cold water and they can be sliced into bite-sized wedges.
The sweet, roasted golden beets are the star of this balanced wild rice salad. To round it out, I added a mixture of wild and brown rice, black-eyed peas, pistachios, basil and an orange dressing. Basically you could use this basic formula to construct your own sophisticated bean and grain salad out of whatever you have in your fridge: cooked grain + cooked (or canned/frozen) bean + veg + herb + nut + dressing. I keep this general formula in mind when I’m making myself a salad to ensure that it will have enough protein and healthy fat to keep me full and enough flavor and variety of textures to keep me interested. Inspired by an autumnal color palate, I chose the golden beets as a starting point and branched off from there. The basil really brightens up the energy of this hearty salad, but another fresh green herb like tarragon, parsley or even baby spinach leaves would work just fine. This warm salad doesn’t need much of a dressing–just a squeeze of orange and a pat of butter.
Golden Wild Rice Salad
1/2 cup wild rice
1/2 cup brown basmati rice
8 small golden beets
1 1/2 cups of frozen black eyed peas (or canned, rinsed)
1/2 cup pistachios, toasted
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
juice from 2 oranges
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup chopped basil
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1. Wrap whole beets in foil together and place on a sheet tray. Roast in the oven at 375 degrees for 1 hour, or until they are fork tender. Let cool for a few minutes, then run under cold water and rub off the skin with your fingers. Slice into wedges and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, bring 1 1/4 cup of water up to a boil, add wild rice and brown rice and reduce to a simmer and cover until all the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes.
3. Defrost black-eyed peas in hot water and drain. Combine warm rice, black-eyed peas, beets, pistachios, butter, orange and lemon juice, basil and salt and pepper. Taste and add more salt or lemon juice if necessary.