Friday, January 10, 2014

Swedish Red Beet salad (Rodbetsallad) - an adaptation.

This summer our vacation took an impromptu, unplanned detour through the three Scandinavian countries. Although rushed, the trip was amazing. Being handicapped by language, I had many escapades in Norway- hilarious in hindsight, but really frustrating then. At one time, I had a collection of 9 bottles of water- all weird tasting- when all I'd asked for in all the supermarkets was clear, unflavored water!

Sweden was different. We were met with A's cousin and her family - so language was no barrier.  The first day we were treated to an all-Indian breakfast, lunch and dinner. By next day, the host's young daughter could take Indian no more. So, she laid out a breakfast of several different kinds of cereals, breads, cheeses and condiments - all surprisingly foreign-looking. A being more adventurous tasted first- and I nibbled from his plate before getting anything on my own.  The breads were good, and the cheeses better; but I'd prefer American breakfast cereal any day to their cereal. That leaves out the outstanding-

Rosbetsallad. Don't ask me how the youngster pronounced it. But it was a beet salad.
"It's very good", A said.
"I don't like beet"…..
"You will like this; try"….
And I took a tentative, minuscule bit off his spoon….
Then a half- bite…
And then I just doled out several spoonfuls into my own plate.
"You really like this, Maamiji (aunt). Maybe you should take some with you. We'll stop by at the supermarket before you go…"

We couldn't bring some with us. But I am really glad that I made A's young niece read out the label from that container. All it said was pickled beets, mayonnaise and seasonings- with several preservatives of course. Back to US, I quickly forgot about this, until a little before Thanksgiving. We went out to lunch from work at a Mediterranean place- and one of the sides they served with my falafel sandwich was ….pickled beets! That got me all revved up. I googled a pickling recipe and we had pickled beets on our Thanksgiving day dinner menu. But they sat in my fridge for several weeks- I had no Mayo to make the salad. That brought me on to my experimentation mode- I have previously used sour cream or cottage cheese in place of mayonnaise in salad dressings. I did that again. And voila! my version of Rodbetsallad was born. It isn't the classic Swedish recipe, but it's good enough for me. Let's just call it the Pickled Beet Salad, and leave it at that!

Pickled Beet Salad

To pickle beets:
2 medium fresh beets, scrubbed, peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes
3/4 cup sugar
1 cups cider vinegar
1 cups water
1 teaspoons salt
  • Bring the last 4 ingredients to a boil in a medium sized saucepan.
  • Put the chopped beets in.
  • Cook on medium till tender-firm.
  • Let cool, store in the fridge- mine kept for a very long time.
To make the Pickled beet salad:
6 Tbsp pickled beets, chopped smaller, if you wish.
4Tbsp sour cream
Salt and black pepper to taste
A squirt of lemon juice

  • Mix it all up together. Refrigerate at least 30 min. before serving.
Makes 2 good sized servings.

My two cents: Since Thanksgiving, I've pickled beets twice and made the salad at least 3 times. I've realized that I like the pickled beets just as much as the salad - hardly a surprise since I am the one ordering extra pickles with my Subway usually.  It's something about the sweet and tangy that gets to me….

As a side note- beets stain everything, including your hands. So be extra careful working with them. My one kitchen towel is now fabulously pink because of these!