03 June 2010

Make This Salad

Salad schmalad, right?

Well, yes, but I'm living in the land of huge, artery-clogging steaks and doughy, cheesy pizzas and empanadas. And down here it's almost winter, which means we're swimming in root vegetables, and oh dear lord help me if I read one more Northern-Hemisphere blog about strawberries.

You'll freeze some for me, won't you?

Let's be clear: When you order salad at a parrilla (Argentine grill), the default is ensalada mixta, which involves a few sad-looking torn-up bits of lettuce, hunks of mealy tomatoes, and heaps of raw white onions. But you order it anyway, because it makes you feel just a little less guilty about the unnecessarily large yet oh-so-delicious slab of meat you're about to consume.

Anyway, in my remaining two months in Argentina, I'm trying to not eat meat at every meal, and also to not contract scurvy. Here in Buenos Aires we prove daily that necessity is the mother of invention. My British friend Sarah discovered the SAP (Second Audio Program) button on her TV when she was trying to figure out how to watch "The Simpsons" in English. And I "created" this salad when I couldn't find many of the ingredients in the original recipe. This version is delicious, and the cabbage will help keep up the ol' vitamin C levels.

Farro, Cabbage, and Roasted Beet Salad
adapted from Epicurious.com

3 large beets, tops trimmed to 1"
1 c semi-pearled farro or wheat berries (note: in Spanish, this is called trigo candeal pelado - at least that's what I used and it's very tasty)
2 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for roasting the beets
2 T red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 large head of red cabbage, stemmed and chopped
1/2 c finely chopped onion
1/3 c chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 c crumbled blue cheese (about 4 oz/100 g)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange beets in single layer in 8 x 8 x 2-inch baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil. Roast until beets are tender, about an hour. Cool. Trim beets; peel.

Cook farro in large saucepan of boiling salted water until tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Note: Your grain's cooking time may vary. Mine took longer, over half an hour. Drain. Transfer to large bowl. Stir 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon vinegar, and garlic into hot farro. Cool to room temperature.

Cut each beet into bite-sized cubes. Add beets, cabbage, onion, and parsley to farro; toss to incorporate evenly. Add blue cheese. Season to taste. Note: The farro (or whatever it was I used) seemed to absorb a lot of salt from the cooking water, so I only added a few twists of freshly-ground pepper at the end, and it was perfect.

I suspect this salad is infinitely malleable. I already want to add a can of chickpeas (rinsed), and some toasted chopped walnuts. The beets could easily be swapped for diced tomatoes, in which case I might also use basil instead of parsley. Yum.


  1. bookmarked on delicious for fall salad making!

  2. Always looking for new ways to fall in love with beets which are not my favourite veggie so I've bookmarked to try:-)