September 14, 2009
[A quick note: Anders, our fine sommelier, had hoped to bring us Part II of his Wine Tasting Basics today, but due to travel & time constraints, I’m afraid we’ll have to anticipate his return for one more week. In the meantime, roast some beets!]
The people we love come with us. They show up in the form of a borrowed word or phrase, an acquired habit, or an inside joke.
File respectively under:
-my photographer Sonya and the adjective “junky,”
-my new bff Coco who’s given me her oh-so-satisfying “Okay then!,”
-my Hindu mother who went to parochial schools in India and the fact that I cross myself when an ambulance drives by,
-my college roommate Rebecca’s many nicknames for me, including “Furlybum” and “Mighty Mighty OJ.” (Don’t ask because I’m not really sure I can explain.)
Even beyond the silly, surface ways, our relationships change us, hopefully for the better. I like to think that the measure of a healthy partnership of any kind is knowing that you are an improved, fuller version of yourself in the context of that related space, and that the other person enjoys the same benefit as well.
I can identify dozens of things that are different about me since I first met Jill seven-and-a-half years ago. Some are direct descendants of her habits & quirks, others have come more obliquely as I’ve grown in relationship with her, but I am grateful for all of them.
Witnessing her deep patience has allowed me to slow down a bit in my own life; I’m able to sit out in the backyard for a while and be still, be quiet. My appreciation of animals, the two cats and dog in our house, the birds we feed in the back, even the little lizards who greet me on the gutter drain in the mornings, have all swelled by observing her.
When I look in the mirror now, I see through a lens tainted by her bias, which is a much more flattering light than I used to put myself in. I really like the person I am, and I wouldn’t be that person without Jill. She has converted me to the cult of football, transferred over her cinematic obsessions with Greta Garbo & Meryl Streep, and all-in-all brought out the very best parts of myself by cheering, supporting, & loving me fiercely. And what have I done for her?
I got her to love beets, of course.
Jill was a total beet skeptic before I made this salad, but it had such an impression on her that she planted beets in our garden soon afterwards. Even if you don’t grow them on your own, consider adding fresh beets to your fall staples. They’re usually not so expensive, keep in the fridge forever, and roast up so easily, I’m going to call them foolproof.
Serve this salad over lettuce or on its own, and feel free to tinker with the ingredients—adding dried cherries or cranberries, switching out the nuts, etc. Come to think of it, this mixture would go nicely over a bed of couscous or quinoa, too!
ROASTED BEET SALAD
pecans, toasted & chopped
thyme, fresh or dried (optional)
salt & pepper
oven: preheat to 425
Cut the tops & bottoms off of the beets. [If you like, save the beet greens to wilt down in a pan with a little olive oil & garlic—yum!] Dice into pieces that are roughly the same size and easy to eat.
Transfer the beets to a roasting pan or baking dish. Drizzle generously with olive oil, then season with salt, pepper, & a few sprinklings of thyme. Toss to coat, then roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the beets give when nudged with a fork (if you like yours softer, roast longer).
Let the beets cool a bit but not too long before combining with crumbled feta and pecans. Serve on its own or over lettuce, spinach, greens. If the latter, I recommend making your own quick vinaigrette with balsamic vinegar & some olive oil. (I’m especially partial to a fig-infused balsamic, which complements the flavor of the beets perfectly).