Top | Ancient Grains for Modern Meals
(recipe, Maria Speck)
The sweet crunchiness and superb simplicity of raw shredded beets are overlooked and underrated. I think they are a delicacy. To save time on dish duty, I use the large holes of a box grater and my muscles to shred raw beets (beware of splatters!), but feel free to use a food processor fitted with a shredding disk. And no, I never wear gloves. The red beet stains wash off easily, plus they show that I love to cook. Combine this humble root vegetable with ancient quinoa and wait for these two earthy flavors to merge into a divine union. I like to blend red beets into burgundy-colored quinoa for a stunning crimson-colored side. White quinoa and golden beets combine for an equally attractive preparation. On hot days, add a dollop of sumac-spiced yogurt and serve with with chicken, lamb, or pork, or with an oil-rich fish such as pan-fried or grilled bluefish. If you don't have whole cumin seeds at home, in Step 1 add 1 teaspoon ground cumin together with the quinoa to the saucepan and cook, stirring, until the quinoa is hot to the touch, about 1 minute. Then proceed as directed.
Sumac is a dark-red powder made from the crushed dried berries of a small Mediterranean tree. Widely used across the Middle East for centuries, it gives a sharp acidic kick to salads and roasted meats or fish. You can sprinkle sumac on top of hummus, or flavor rice with it. Its amazing, complex flavor contributes not only tanginess, but also sweet and bitter notes.