Beet Salad

Cut heads and tails off of Chioggia beets. Scrub, but don’t peel. Place in casserole dish as close together as possible. I had 6 beets, they went into about a 6″ dish. Cover completely with water. Add a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake at 350, uncovered, for about an hour, or until tender when poked with a paring knife. Drain water, cool beets in the refrigerator. Peel with paring knife. Slice about 3/16″ thick, or a “thin 1/4” for the math-impaired.

Make a classic vinaigrette (I always beat mine with a fork in a wide, shallow wooden salad bowl) with sherry vinegar, a touch of dijon, salt and pepper, and the best olive oil you have. Add summer savory, chopped to a mist. Pour this over the sliced beets and let it sit in the fridge for an hour or two to marinate. Sprinkle sea salt over the top at serving time, if desired.

This simple recipe has almost infinite variations, but the winning ingredients (besides the gorgeous beets) were the sherry vinegar and the savory. Thyme would make a reasonable substitute, as would a blend of whatever fresh herbs were at hand. (Rosemary should be used very sparingly as it can be woody and has a very strong flavor.) Chop the herbs as fine as you can, so they blend into the vinaigrette.

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