Laurel Herman
Chef Instructor, Culinary Storyteller, and Culinary Medicine

Turkish Beetroot Salad, Grounding Culinary Medicine for an New Reality

Turkish Beetroot Salad All Photos Laurel Herman

I have been craving beets ever since this new reality of ours has surfaced. Every grocery order  that I do, I inadvertently forget the beets. Not this time, I really needed them. Here’e why.

A few months ago I  taught a  Turkish  Cuisine class. The food was wonderful, but the  real star was the beet salad. Its simplicity, with just a few ingredients, packed such a powerful flavor, it literally stunned everyone in the class. Those are the recipes that I put in my mental filing cabinet  as true Culinary Medicine.

On a zoom call the other night with local healers, and folks in the know, we discussed diet and how having your body as clean as possible  could be a key to avoiding Covid -19, along  of course with social distancing  and following safety protocols.  Beets are the best liver cleansers you’ll ever find. We are trying to navigate a way through our collective trauma, and why not with good food ? 

Yesterday I experienced my first “flat earther. ” Commenting on a  friend’s social media post, “Do you know anyone personally with covid -19?” ” Several” was my response.  It was immediately followed by being called a liar by some dude who was obviously living in his own reality and enjoyed picking random people to harass. My friends called this fella a flat earther. Ok, so you  believe the earth is flat. All sorts of people are crawling out of the woodwork during this time. I’m not sure why I was surprised but it did trigger something in me. I left a very brief comment which I won’t repeat. You just can’t take the New York out of me.  Then I gave myself a pass for reacting the way I did. It’s understandable under the circumstances.

I only get the cliff notes when the news is concerned.  I can’t listen to Donald Trump anymore.I have to keep my sanity.  He might as well be a flat earther, lost in his own reality in the land of money, narcissism, and  his own twisted messiah complex. I don’t know  how or if  we  will get out of this mess with him at the helm. It’s not looking good.

AND THEN……

The beets arrived in my grocery order just in the nick of time. A knock at the door and there they were. They are grounding  and exactly the right food for this moment in time. They are round, like the earth, and have and earthy taste. Beets are the food of my ancestors.  And I need to know they are there watching over me. This salad reminded me that they are. 

Turkish  Beetroot  Salad

Ingredients :

  • 6 medium size beets peeled and sliced in half.  
  • 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar, white / red wine vinegar, or cider vinegar (use what’s on hand)
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves (or more to taste)

2 cups thick Greek style plain yogurt or drained yogurt/ or non-dairy plain

  • 2 tablespoons minced dill or cilantro

PREPARATION

  1. Wash well, peel and slice the beets in half for easy grating. Boil until slightly tender. Drain and let cool. Grate in a large bowl. You can either use a hand grater or food processor. Stir together the vinegar, sugar, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss with the cooled beets and allow to marinate for 20 minutes at room temperature.
  2. Place the garlic in a mortar and pestle, or food processor, add 1/8 teaspoon salt, and mash to a paste. Stir into the yogurt. Stir in half the dill. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drain the beets and stir some of the marinade into the yogurt (to taste). Toss with the beets or arrange the beets on a platter and drizzle the yogurt over the top. Sprinkle on the remaining dill and serve.
About the Author
Laurel Herman is Chef Instructor, Culinary Storyteller, and Culinary Medicine practitioner, residing in Richmond, Virginia. A classically trained chef in the European style( Thames Valley University, London, U.K. and The Institute for Integrative Nutrition) Her style is anything but classic, its fun, and relaxed. A lifelong career in food, Laurel had the unique experience of being the only woman in a kitchen brigade of 30 men, ( 40 years ago) earning their respect and affection through hard work and determination. Laurel's passion is bringing people together through food. Her workshop and retreat work use storytelling combined with cooking and music to evoke a sense of remembrance. She currently teaches at various venues throughout the Richmond area. She is a strong believer that one way we can fight racism and bigotry of any kind is by helping people have access to clean and abundant food, supporting farmers markets and local vendors. Although not a chef himself, her favorite mythological character is Robin Hood, the revolutionary defender of social equality. Her books, The Blissed Out Chef was published in 2015 and the Inner Kitchen, Balboa press in 2011.
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