This winter on the island of Rhodes gave me the chance to meet beetroot a bit closer. In Hungary we have a kind of beetroot salad, but I was never into that so much. In general about food I prefer the ‘mediterranean’ approach with its simplicity and always fresh and seasonal ingreedients. During December, January you could see beautiful fresh beetroots with huge stems and leafs everywhere on Rhodes – on the market, in grocery stores, supermarkets, etc. So I could not resist to buy a big bunch of them. I wanted to prepare them the way I usually do, and then my Greek friend Katerina came and gave me some lessons about beetroot. And then Vangelis Pavlidis came and shared some other secrets with me about this fantastic plant, and the way how Greeks prepare it in the traditional way. Which is so simple – as Greeks don’t like to make things difficult – and quick. So now I am sharing this knowledge with you too. Spread the word and cook like Greeks! 🙂
Okay, the first big difference between the Hungarian and the Greek way of preparing beetroot is the parts of the plant that we use. Greeks use the whole plant – not only the root. The stem and the leafs are really popular and precious ingredients in Greek kitchen.
I faced this first when Katerina came over and went crazy when she saw me throwing out the stems and the leafs of the beetroot. Yes, that time I was a bit under-educated about beetroot – but this is how we learn. 🙂 Greeks cook these parts also, and serve them together with the roots as part of the salad, or separate as ‘horta’ (χόρτα). And Katerina also taught me some very simple ways of making beetroot salad together with any ingredient from the fridge.
So let’s see this little collection of recipes I gathered in Greece recently.
The basic beetroot salad – παντζαρια (panzaria) – also known as κοκκινογούλια (kokkinogoulia) in some parts of Greece
one big fresh bouquet of beetroot, salt, water
Take the whole bunch of beetroot and cut off the greens. Wash and rinse several times. Separate the red stems from the leaves. Scrub the beets well and cook in boiling salted water for about 30 minutes, and then add the stems. After 5 minutes add the leaves too and cook them together until the beets are tender. Skin the beets, chop into pieces and place into a bowl. Top with the boiled leaves and stems.
So simple, so majestic. And now according to your taste here you are three varieties of dressing to boost the taste of beetroot:
Dressing #1 – by Vangelis Pavlidis: σκορδοστουμπι / skordostoupi – The Original One
Vangelis told me that this dressing always came together with the panzaria in a separate bottle in most of the Rhodian taverns in the past. Nowadays you could hardly find a place where they serve this skordostoumbi. Because of the western-influenced gastronomy wave, slowly it disappeared from the tables of the tavernas…
The σκορδοστουμπι (skordostupi) is: finely chopped garlic with vinegar.
Dressing #2: variation of σκορδοστουμπι (skordostupi)
Mix them together: vinegar, finely chopped garlic, olive oil, plus some spoon of the water where you boiled the beetroot in.
Dressing #3: σκορδαλιά (skordalia) – The Greek garlic sauce
stale bread pieces chopped, few cloves of garlic (depending on the taste), salt, few tablespoons of white vinegar, olive oil, some water
Remove crusts from bread and cut roughly into pieces. Place into an electric blender and add the garlic, salt, olive oil and vinegar. Blend it carefully and add some water to have a smooth dressing at the end.
Katerina’s beetroot salad
So this is my friend, Katerina’s beetroot salad that she made the last time when she came over to visit me. Whatever she found in my fridge and kitchen, she put inside and mixed them together. The result was an amazing number one healthy salad!
2-3 beetroots, a half cabbage (I had the white one at home), carrot, parsley (finely chopped), olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, 1 mandarin, feta cheese
Clean the beetroots and grate them with a cheese grater. Cut the cabbage into slight pieces. Mix them together with the finely chopped parsley. Add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, salt, pepper and some feta cheese – according to your taste. At the end you can squeeze the mandarin and add its liquid too. I had one grapefruit in the kithcen, so Katerina chopped some and we put it also into the salad.
Anastasia is a real Greek housewife and a good friend from Kalithies village. We spent the last Christmas day in her house and of course it was a never-ending meal with amazing food creations. My favourite was her simple but unforgettable beetroot salad.
beetroot, avocado, olive oil, red vinegar, salt, pepper
Clean and peal the beetroot, than grate it with a cheese grater into small pieces. Peel the avocado and smash it well. Mix them and add the rest ingredients according to your taste.
+1 EXTRA: mediterranean beetroot salad with thyme
I have learnt this recipe in Hungary from a chef, but I share it here too as it fits to the Greek kitchen’s ingredients too. 🙂
Thyme, salt, pepper, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, beetroot
Wash the beetroots carefully and then bake them in aluminum foils with some thyme, salt and olive oil. If it is tender peel it, slice it and add fresh thyme, balsamic vinegar, honey, salt, pepper according to your taste.
And of course there are many many more other recipes with beetroot. It depends only on your fantasy and creativity…
Καλή όρεξη ~ Kali orexi! ~ Enjoy!