A salad, or perhaps a chutney, of boiled beets and leeks, dressed with passum and liquamen, cumin and pepper.
The joy that is farm market season is upon me! Overwhelming and worrisome at times, I wind up with a plethora of stuff I have no particular interest in.
This time, it was a magnificence of beets. Oy.
I know beets are red. I know they are unexpectedly sweet, but people pickle them. That’s about all I know.
Apicius calls for beets and stored leeks to be boiled, plated, and dressed with a boiled sauce.
The sauce calls for Passum, which according to my books is a reduced grape juice used as a sauce, flavoring, sweetener, and so-on.
I had to source non-concord (a new-world grape) juice to boil down for the passum, grape must syrup, which was rather more of a challenge than expected. I got a de-alcolised wine and a grape juice, but went with the grape juice for this run. I did try to get wine grape juice, but it will be a bit more effort.
After boiling down the syrup, cubing and boiling the beets to tenderness, and blanching the leeks, I chilled all of the components separately overnight, then prepared them for service.
First I tried slicing the leeks a few ways, but found that a simple large dice was most conducive to eating. Being that they can get slimy when boiled, the cut allows them to separate and maintain a pleasant texture.
The beets were cut to a similar size, and plated with the leeks.
The sauce was simply the “passum” with cumin, black pepper, and a little liquamen to balance the sweetness, and allowed to boil hard for a minute to set the flavors.
A surprisingly light and refreshing salad, which could easily be served cool on a summers’ evening.
As an alternative, you can chop the leeks and veggies even smaller, simmer them in the sauce, and serve as a condiment rather than a salad. It tastes quite nice, which is a relief. I have a lot of beets!
Recipe: Apicius 3.2 An Easily Digested Relish
- 1 beet, cooked til tender in salted water
- 1 leek, cooked til tender in salted water. Shock in cold water.
- 1 cup grape juice (not concord) or similar fruit juice, reduced by half
- 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
- ¼ teaspoon cumin, ground
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, ground
- Dice the leeks
- dice the beets
- plate them. Think “easy to eat with a salad fork”
- Boil the reduced grape juice, fish sauce, cumin, and pepper together.
- Pour over the salad as a hot dressing.
-Leeks need to be treated cautiously, they can get slimy when cooked
-easy to overdo the pepper, make the sauce in advance and be sure of your balance
-easy to oversalt, the boiling water and the liquamen are both salty
+Easy to prepare in advance
+Reasonable, seasonable, and less-common ingredients, unlikely to have “beet fatigue”
+Beet water can easily be made into soup.