Roots, deep below the ground, burrowing and then sprouting and finally like the ugly duckling, becoming something quite beautiful even if only from within. Roots are the beginning of everything, connect us, keep us hooked to our past as we gingerly step out into the world.
This fresh and sweet jewelled beet slaw is an adapted recipe from the cookbook, Roots, by Diane Morgan. It is a breathtaking book which is almost an a-z compendium of root vegetables and has entirely captivated me and has me dreaming of galangal, celery root and a particular carrot bundt cake with Meyer lemon glaze. That says a lot coming from a girl who usually dreams of chocolate nonstop.
Delicately flavored with citrusy notes from the dressing, crispy and exquisitely bright, this beet, fennel and apple slaw is the first recipe that I have tried from my new cookbook which I have had on my night stand since I got it for my birthday on Friday. I brought all seemingly ten pounds of it with me on my weekend getaway, have practically holstered it to my side and wake up thinking about recipe after recipe of beautiful root vegetables.
The pages are smooth and glossy, the photography stark and stunning and every recipe is something mouthwateringly different that insists on being made for the next meal or potluck. And as I devoured every recipe with my eyes, thinking how food has gone so far out there with “foams” and molecular gastronomy and concoctions that taste like one thing but look entirely like another, here we are back at the beginning with roots.
Much like people…
It’s funny, but the further my life progresses, while I speed through it raising children, ticking off chores on a list and working, I find I am longing for my roots as a way of getting back to the basics. Lately, I am craving to learn more about my heritage of which I haven’t really been exposed to all that much. And as I continue to put one foot in front of the other, propelling myself forward through life, I just may get around to some digging as well; hopefully I will discover what is below my surface and begin to connect with my own roots.
Raw Beet Slaw with Fennel and Tart Green Apples
Basics of the recipe from Roots by Diane Morgan but personalized by Me.
1-2 medium red beets, depending on size, peeled and cut into matchsticks
3/4 of a fennel bulb, trimmed, halved, cored and cut into matchsticks
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and cut into matchsticks
1/2 c. flat leaf parsley, trimmed, chopped and firmly packed
1/2 c. golden raisins
1/2 c. toasted pepitas (hulled pumpkin seed) or other seed or nut
1/3 c. olive oil
1 1/2 T.fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 T. freshly grated orange zest
1- 1 1/2 t. honey (depending on how sweet you like your dressing)
1/2 t. fine sea salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
To make the slaw: Wear disposable plastic gloves if you don’t want bright pink hands if you are using a mandoline. Peel and trim your beet and then put it through a mandoline to cut the beets into matchsticks. I used my Cuisinart food processor fitted with the small “grate” blade. This worked well and left all of my knuckles in tact and hands free of bright pink dye.
Trim your fennel (cut off fronds), cut in half and then remove the core. Using the mandoline or food processor, cut into matchsticks. Core your apple and cut in fourths and then cut into matchsticks as well. Chop your parsley. Mix together your cut beets, fennel, apple, chopped parsley, golden raisins and pepitas.
To make the dressing: In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together olive oil through honey. Whisk in salt and pepper and taste. Add more honey or salt or pepper depending on your personal liking. Dress the salad and toss gently to coat. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate but remove from refrigerator about 20 minutes before serving. The slaw can be made up to 8 hours in advance.