Beets (bears, Battlestar Galactica) are a controversial vegetable. They elicit strong opinions usually along the lines of “eww!” or “yum!” I’m from the yum camp and I love cooking sugary, earthy beets in nearly any shape or form. This salad, adapted from Bi-Rite Market’s Eat Good Food, is a winner, combining the beets’ natural sweetness with the piquantness of feta cheese and vinegared onions.
1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
3 tablespoons champagne or white wine vinegar
1 1/2 pounds (about 4 medium) beets
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)
1. Combine the onion, vinegar, and a couple of pinches of salt in a small bowl and set aside.
2. Scrub beets clean. Fit a steamer basket in a large pot, add water just to the bottom of the basket, and arrange the beets in a snug single layer. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat, cover the pot, and reduce the heat to maintain a vigorous simmer. Cook until the beets are completely tender when pierced with a skewer, about 35 minutes. (Keep an eye on the water level during cooking, and add more if it threatens to dry up.) Remove from the heat and let cool. Slip the skins off once they’re cool enough to handle and slice thinly or into eighths.
3. Reserving the liquid, remove the onion from the vinegar and add to the beets. In another bowl, whisk together the oil, mustard, honey, 1 tablespoon of the reserved vinegar, and a few pinches of salt.
4. Add the dressing, the parsley, and the feta to the beets. Toss well and taste; season with more salt or vinegar as needed.