Beets, like revenge, are best served cold, which means, like revenge, they take some planning. This beet dish is no exception, but once you’ve got your cold, cooked beet(s) at hand, it really doesn’t take much time or work. Yet it still looks pretty enough to be special. It also combines some of the elements of borscht — mostly beets, set off by cucumbers and sour cream — in salad form. Last but not least, it makes a nice change from pickled beets, while calling for way fewer ingredients.
Speaking of which . . .
- 1 large beet
- 2-3 quarter-inch slices cucumber
- 2 teaspoons sour cream
- ¼ teaspoon white sugar
- Starting as much as a day in advance, peel the beet(s) and cook till you can stick a fork in without resistance.
- (I got mine to this point by steaming in the microwave, but you could also do it in boiling water on the stove top. Be ready for it to take over 10 minutes.)
- Cool completely. Cut both ends to a flat surface. On the end you’re using for the top, draw a circle with a sharp knife.
- Hollow out the beet under the circle, about halfway down. One of those serrated spoons made for grapefruit can be helpful with this.
- (The discarded cooked beet can be saved and puréed for borscht, red velvet cake, or whatever.)
- Cut triangles out of the rim of the beet cup. You don’t really have to, but it looks nice.
- Peel the cucumber or not, as you like. Dice it to about a quarter inch square — this is more important.
- Mix the sour cream and sugar. You could use brown sugar, but the colors would clash, and the stronger taste might overwhelm the cucumbers.
- Combine the sour cream dressing with the diced cucumber and spoon it into the hollow of the beet cup. Garnish with something contrasting — I used a sliver of carrot. Serve on a lettuce leaf.
- For a variation, you could use a commercial salad dressing instead of sour cream and sugar. Just remember how sweet beets are and how bland cucumbers are; I’d stick to a creamy dressing without garlic, lots of vinegar, or anything else that would overpower their tastes.
- One more point — don’t put in the filling any more than an hour before you’re eating. The color of the beets does start to seep into it and turn it pink.
- More planning, I know — but that’s the way it is with beets.