When you want to impress your guests but don’t have much time, you open your refrigerator, grab all the vegetables you find there that could be consumed uncooked, and arrange them on a pretty platter to make an arresting picture. You place the dressing on the table right next to it, and after the appropriate “Ooohs!” and “Aaahs!”, dress and mix a very healthy salad right in front of your company. The basic rule of thumb is a contrast of colors and textures.
I believe that young beets don’t need to be peeled, as the tender skin is chock-full of vitamins. They do need to be scrubbed well under running water. Even though they could be incorporated into this salad completely raw, sometimes people with a sensitive digestion system might react to this much roughage, so I just pierce them a few times, wrap them in a paper towel, and microwave them for a couple of minutes, not to cook, but to soften.
What else do I have at hand? Cabbage, carrots, green bell pepper, and red onion. I put them next to each other, added some dill, and decided that the whole “nature morte” needed a border, or a frame, if you will. I added a Red Delicious apple, and was ready to start. I shredded cabbage, grated carrot and beets, and sliced the onion, pepper, and apple paper thin. Then I arranged the three shredded and grated veggies in piles, separated by julienned (cut into thin strips) pepper, and piled sliced onion into the center. Apple slices were tucked all around, along the rim of the platter, creating a frame. I tore dill sprigs into smaller pieces and randomly scattered them around. And just because my whimsical nature demanded it, I fanned three apple slices over the cabbage pile and sprinkled some black sesame seeds on them.
A very basic dressing included olive oil, lemon juice, cinnamon, xylitol, salt, and fresh ground black pepper. I poured into a nice cruet, to be served together with the veggies.
I first saw this salad in Palanga, a Lithuanian sea-side resort where slender pines walk into the silvery-gray Baltic sea. They served it with different kinds of smoked fish, interspersed with vegetables. I remembered it as something as beautiful and coldly mysterious as the sea and the pine trees, as this song and dance dedicated to them.
What an awe-inspiring work of art! I hope you are getting the feeling of flowing with nature and using the gifts of nature found in your refrigerator on a moment’s notice to create a work of art of your own.
And remember, you can use anything you have at hand, as long as you make it look beautiful!
- 2 – 3 small to medium beets, grated
- 1 medium carrot, grated
- 1/4 cabbage head, shredded
- 1/2 green bell pepper julienned (any color bell pepper could be used)
- 1/2 red onion, sliced paper thin
- 1 small to medium red-skinned apple (any red-skinned apple will do)
- A few sprigs of fresh dill
- Black sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon xylitol or sweetener or your choice
- A pinch of cinnamon
- Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.
- Scrub beets, pierce with sharp knife, wrap in paper towel, microwave for 2 minutes. Alternatively, bake covered at 350 for 15 minutes.
- Shred cabbage, grate carrot and beets. Arrange on platter in three separate piles.
- Slice pepper and onion paper thin.
- Cut apple into quarters without peeling, cut out core. Slice quarters paper thin.
- Place pepper strips between piles of vegetables.
- Place onion slices in the center.
- Tuck apple slices around the vegetables, close to the rim of the platter, creating a frame.
- Tear dill sprigs by hand, scatter randomly.
- Fan 2 – 3 apple slices on one of the corners, sprinkle black sesame seeds.
- Prepare dressing by mixing all ingredients. Pour into serving cruet.
- Dress and mix at the table.