A plum and beet salad is offbeat, but somehow the combination works! As a midsummer small plate, it’s a cross between a savory salad and fruit salad.
If you’re anything like me, I get excited when plums are in season, then I buy some and they languish in the fridge. Like any fruit, plums are most enticing when cut up, luring the eye as well as the palate.
In this super-simple salad, plums are combined with cooked beets. If you can get hold of them, golden beets would be a fantastic substitution for red beets, since they’re so sweet they practically taste like fruits themselves.
Agave or maple syrup plus lemon juice add a sweet-tart balance, and a nice crunch is provided by pecans or walnuts.
A FEW TIPS FOR COOKING BEETS
Cooking beets in the microwave: Microwaving is the easiest and quickest way to cook beets. Rinse the beets and place beets in a deep microwave-safe container with a little water at the bottom — not more than a half inch or so deep. Cover and microwave for 2 to 4 minutes per beet (2 minutes for small beets, 3 for medium, 4 for large).
This is a general guideline; best to start with less time and check for doneness, then add a minute or so.They’re done when you can just pierce them—and when cooking beets, try not to overcook.
Cooking beets on the stovetop: It’s best to use beets that aren’t too large if you want to cook them on the stovetop — otherwise, it takes quite a long time. Rinse beets and cut away all but an inch of the stalks.
Place in a large deep saucepan with water to cover. Bring to a slow boil, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer until just tender. How long this will take depends on the size of the beets. Check after 15 minutes, but don’t poke too many test holes into them, or they’ll bleed too much! Drain and let cool when done.
Finishing up the process: Whether you’ve microwaved or cooked beets, once just tender, plunge into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.Once the beets are cool enough to handle, peel them over the trash or compost container, then and dice or slice as desired. To prevent discoloration of your cutting board, you can cover it with a piece of wax paper.
Roasting beets: Roasting beets are delicious, but the prep makes a bit of a mess, since it’s best to peel and slice or dice them while raw. That said, if you partially microwave or cook them ahead of time following the directions above, peeling and chopping will be easier.
Using beets raw: Do you prefer to use beets raw? That’s always an option. If you have a good knife and don’t mind having your hands died red for a while, simply peel beets and cut into thin pieces or grate for adding to salads. Or, peel beets and cut into chunks for juicing.
- 2 medium-large or 3 medium beets, cooked, cooled, and peeled (see cooking tips following recipe box)
- 4 to 5 sweet plums, pitted and cut into bite-sized wedges
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice, or more, to taste
- 2 tablespoons agave or maple syrup, or more, to taste
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, lightly toasted if desired
- Small mint or basil leaves as desired
- Once the beets are cooked in your preferred way (see options before this recipe box), then cooled and peeled, cut into pieces to more or less match the plums.
- Combine the cut beets and plums in a serving bowl and toss with lemon juice and agave or syrup. Taste to see if you’d like to adjust the sweet/tart balance.
- Stir in the walnuts, and garnish with mint. If time allows, let this stand for 15 to 20 minutes to allow the flavors to meld, but you can also serve right away.
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Here are more easy, tasty salads & sides.
Photos at top: Bigstock