This Beet Recipe Is Blowing My Mind

I love beets, but they're usually served the same way: quartered and somewhat slimy. Nuts in the Kitchen: More than 100 Recipes for Every Taste and Occasion, by Susan Herrmann Loomis, has an interesting alternative preparation. First a word about this cookbook: We get a lot of cookbooks around here, and this one excited me more than most. Why? Recipes like Sicilian sweet and sour rabbit with chopped almonds, and mushroom and walnut tarte Tatin. The author, Loomis, runs On Rue Tatin cooking school in Normandy, France.

So anyway, I made this beet recipe last night, and it was fabulous. It's almost like a spread, because the beets are finely chopped in the food processor and mixed with a ton of walnuts and cilantro. I can imagine riffing on this as a sandwich filling or adding minced, briny olives to it, too.

Unbeatable Red Beets and Walnuts
adapted from Nuts in the Kitchen
makes about 5 cups, 8 to 10 servings

Loomis recommends serving the salad with lettuce leaves that can be used to scoop it up.

To cook the beets:
2 pounds beets, rinsed and unpeeled
4 celery stalks, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
1 small bunch of flat-leaf parsley
1 bunch cilantro

To finish the salad:
2 cups lightly toasted walnuts
Mounded 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 cup cilantro leaves
Salt and freshly ground white pepper

1. Cover the beets with 2 inches of water in a heavy-bottom saucepan with celery, garlic, salt, parsley, and cilantro, and boil for one hour or until beets are tender. Strain, and reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. (I saved all of it, as the liquid tastes good and could be good to cook grains with.)

2. Pulse walnuts in a food processor until finely ground but not oily. Transfer to a large bowl.

3. When beets have cooled, peel, quarter, and place in food processor. Add 1/2 cup reserved cooking liquid and pulse until coarsely chopped. Transfer to the large bowl with the walnuts, and add the coriander, minced garlic, and vinegar. Fold together.

4. Mince the cilantro, and add to beet mixture. Add salt and white pepper. Add more vinegar if you think it needs more acid.