Food fashion is a fickle friend. At one moment, you're the toast of every menu in town. But then before you know it, you've become a cliché. It's happening to kale salad and roasted Brussels sprouts right now, but perhaps the poster boy for this epic rise and fall is the beet salad.
Believe it or not, at one time not so long ago there was something gloriously cutting edge about making a beet salad. After all, back then everyone hated beets. And then you'd put this beautiful thing in front of them, shining like rubies, and they'd taste it and love it and, oh my, you were a hero.
Now, people at your table are liable to go "meh." But just as before, that only lasts until they actually taste it. Because, simply put, a great beet salad is one of the most delicious cool weather dishes you can make.
And it's almost infinitely flexible. You can make it with all kinds of cheeses – it's equally good with creamy burrata, salty ricotta salata, or, of course, goat cheese. You can pair it with a crisp bitter green like radicchio, tender butter lettuce or sweet slices of oranges. Top it with toasted nuts or croutons. It's all good.
Don't believe me? Here are a dozen variations to get you started. With a couple of beet latkes thrown in. Just to keep from being cliched.
How to choose: The key to selecting the best beets is to look at the tops, not the roots. The tops will start to wilt and fade long before the roots show any trouble at all. Look for greens that are crisp and vibrant. Only then should you check to make sure there are no nicks or cuts on the roots.
How to store: Beets keep well – just stick them in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.