Raw Raw for Spring! Crimson Salad with Pecans and Pumpkin Seeds

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Can it be that spring has finally decided to grace us with its presence?  Tentative buds peek from beneath the scraggy clay, ennervated blades of grass sun themselves daily, waiting to transform from brittle,  strawlike shoots to brilliant green fringes undulating in tranquil breezes.  The sun is finally blazing overhead, causing pedestrians to peel off successive layers of clothing, first hat, then gloves, then scarf, then jacket as they stroll along, like human illustrations of the the classic Aesop fable.

Okay, enough with the purple prose!

Bah, spring, I say. I know; you’d think I’d be ecstatic, wouldn’t you?  After all,  I consider myself the unrivalled Queen of Wrath Against Winter.  In contrast to the frozen, snowy season, spring is a harbinger of new life. Flowers. Gurgling streams. Picnics in the park and “Paris in the-the.” The season premiere of Rescue Me. And yet, and yet. . . despite all this, spring has made me grumpy.   Why?

Well, this might give you an idea:

Spring, circa 1960s:

It’s late March, and Ricki is jumping with excitement. Spring means it’s time for the annual visit to Uncle L (not to be confused with Uncle S of the Planters Peanuts jar–no fun!) over at the coat factory.  Uncle L worked in the fashion district of Montreal, and once a year, Ricki’s mum took her and her two sisters to the factory so they could choose a new spring jacket–at wholesale prices!

What could be better?  A two-hour bus ride to the mysterious, exotic East End of Montreal (the all-Francophone area, into which they never ventured otherwise);  where everything was interesting and new, from the dark plumes of smoke that snaked across the sky from factory chimneys to the stray newspapers and empty plastic bags that swished across the neglected streets to the staccato joual that echoed down the alleys as they drove by.  All of it was fun and exhilarating–and best of all, it culminated in a new coat! Whee!

Spring, Circa 1980s:

Ricki and her two best friends from CEGEP are excited.  March means they’re going to Fort Lauderdale for Spring Break–their first vacation on their own and without parents!

What could be better?  A shared hotel room in a beachside hotel.  Six days sunning on the sand, lounge chairs and drinks by the cabana, three meals a day in restaurants. Evenings clearing the sand out of your swimsuit, getting gussied up and meeting scores of other twenty-somethings at bars and clubs. All of it was fun and exhilarating–and best of all, it culminated in a shopping spree (in American shopping malls, no less, with all those great brands we can’t get at home!)  Wheeee!

Spring, Circa March 22, 2009, 4:15 PM:

Spring means taxes.  What could be worse?

Grumbling while I gather my scattered paperwork from throughout the year, spend three hours organizing it into neat little piles across the kitchen table, then three more hours with a pad of paper and calculator, tallying up the numbers again and again and again, just to be sure. . . Whoah.

Spring means mud.  Lots and lots of mud.  What could be worse?

Wiping eight muddy paws, two muddy bellies and an occasional muddy chest two or three times a day over the course of the spring season (a locker room post-football game on a rainy day doesn’t even begin to compete with these muddy canine torsos). Walking dogs in springtime. . . .Whoah.

[“Mum, to be fair, we really don’t have a choice about the fur on the belly thing. . . unlike Dad, for instance.”]

Spring means a yard that resembles, just a little too close for comfort, that mountainous pile of garbage and muck that Roy builds in his kitchen in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Could it be any worse?

After all the snow and ice have melted, the ground underneath has heaved and repositioned itself, and the previously unmowed grass has wilted and yellowed, falling in heaps and whorls like matted hair shaved from an unkempt Goldendoodle (or was that an unkempt Joaquin Phoenix?)–what’s left is a sodden, muddy, tawny and gray yard that serves little purpose other than as bathroom for your dogs (see “Spring means mud,” above)–and awaits hours of your physical labor to clean it up and make it presentable.  Whoah.

Am I being a tad too negative?  Perhaps.  After all, taxes mean I actually have a job (something for which I’m extremely grateful in these hard times).  And muddy paws means I have two furry, exuberant Girls to brighten my every day.  A yard means I can finally, finally learn how to garden (remember last year’s monstrous mint fiasco?).

And so, as an attempt to bridge the gap between winter and spring, I decided to make this salad.

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This is a recipe I created several years ago for a cooking class entitled, “Anti Candida Feast” (a rather ambitious title, I think now).  At the time, I wasn’t following the ACD myself, but had been asked by a few previous participants for an ACD-friendly menu.  And while I adore juiced beets (my favorite combo is beet, carrot, and ginger juice), I’ve never been a fan of raw beets in any other context.  I’ve always thought of beets as more of a winter veggie, to be roasted or boiled into soup.  This salad seemed the perfect means to combine the spirit of spring (in a raw dish) with these lovely crimson roots.

With its emphasis on beets, carrots and cilantro, I thought it would be the perfect submission to Weekend Herb Blogging, the weekly event started by Kalyn and now run by Haalo. This week’s host is Anna from Anna’s Cool Finds.

When I told the HH I was making a raw beet and carrot salad for dinner, his response was, “Blecccchhhh.  Beets taste like dirt.”

“But they’re good for your blood,” I countered.

“Don’t care,” he said. “Dirt.”

“But they cleanse the liver!”

“My liver is clean enough.”

“But” (and here, I admit I was reaching a bit)–”they can help test your transit time!”

“Transit time??  You mean, like, how long it takes the beets to go in one end and come out the oth—”

“Yep.”

“Okay, now I really don’t want to eat those beets.”

I mixed up the salad anyway, planning to consume it on my own.  But something about the vibrant colors, the springlike fuscia and orange, the heady aroma of lime and cilantro in combination, persuaded him to take a bite.  And in the end, he loved it!

“This doesn’t taste like beets at all,” he said, chewing on a mouthful of beets.

Seeing him devour that plate of salad, I felt happy to welcome the spring.  Exhilarated, even.

Wheeeee!

[PS You’ve still got nine days to enter the Maple Syrup and Chocolate Cake Giveaway!  Click here for details.]

I’m submitting this recipe to Heather’s Raw Food Thursdays event.

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Last year at this time: Spiced Carrot Gnocchi in a Creamy Sauce

 

© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs

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Comments

  1. The HH is right. Beets taste like dirt. Dirt. Dirt. Except when they’re grated raw. Then they taste great, and this salad looks like the perfect raw beet collage. Gorgeous.

    The blog is looking so much better. I like the lighter font and gray titles. The other version was too black and heavy!

  2. As I said on your old blog…

    RAW RADIANCE IN THAT DISH!! :-D

  3. Oh I do love a raw beetroot salad. And you’ve managed to include some of my favourite ingredients.

    And, I’m a bit late on this one, but well done on your new home – you do look glam!

  4. oh my gosh! that sounds amazingly delicious! and your new site looks great :)

  5. Oh that colorful salad looks incredible! I love veggies :)

  6. What a beautiful and refreshing-looking salad! I really like your textural consideration, what with the pecans and all (I personally love toasted walnuts, but that’s just me). And the simple dressing seems to enhance, not overpower, the freshness of the ingredients. Great ideas all around :)

  7. Congratulations on the new blog!! It’s absolutely amazing!! I’m soooo excited – about both your new blog home and about the gorgeous, gorgeous cover of your cookbook!! I’m still counting down until the wonderful day when I can purchase the cookbook… :-)

    I love your story about the beets and the HH – I laughed so hard when I read your conversation, because I had nearly the exact same conversation with Zach the first time I tried to fix borscht for him… :-) Zach said “beets taste like dirt,” I said “but they’re good for you,” and the conversation went from there! :-) Suffice to say, Zach likes beets now, so I know will both adore your beautiful salad! How perfect for spring!

    By the way, I can completely sympathize – taxes are incredibly grump-inducing… :-p

  8. Your salad is beautiful! I have never tried raw beets yet, so I think I am going to make this.

  9. Look at those gorgeous colours! Wow. And how exciting you have a new blog! Lovely. Looks great. :)

  10. Andrea,
    Funny, I used to think RAW beets tasted like dirt! Now I like both kinds. Re: the blog, I agreed about the too-black font. I’m working on the other changes, too, but unfortunately it will depend on my limited abilities once Blain (my great site designer) is done!

    VeggieGirl,
    Glad you think so–it has the same effect when you eat it. :)

    Kathryn,
    Thanks so much! I have noticed that beets tend to be more appreciated on other continents. . . but I’m working on spreading the word. ;)

    Heather,
    Thanks so much!

    Pearl,
    Thanks! Hope you like this one, too. :)

    Chris,
    You could easily use walnuts if that’s what you prefer. And I think you’re right about the dressing–very simple, yet just the right contrast to everything else.

    Astra Libris,
    So funny that Zack had the same reaction! Maybe it’s a guy thing? Somehow I doubt I’d ever be able to convince the HH to eat borscht, though. . . ;)

    Kiersten,
    I think this is a good place to start. . something about the lime juice seems to enhance the good qualities in the beets while masking the more “earthy” flavor. Just ask the HH! ;)

  11. What incredible colors! A perfect welcome for spring.

  12. This looks absolutely delicious! Beets are my FAVOURITE veggie! Those who think they taste like dirt are unappreciative fools. :P

  13. Pretty as a picture!

  14. So pretty!! I giggled myself silly at your “transit time” encouragement!

  15. great colours – who could resist!

  16. Excellent! Spring has arrived in Toronto! I have been reading the CBC and thinking it was never going to happen before my trip home in April! Whoop Whoop. Sorry for the taxes and muddy paws, but yahhhhh for your super cute puppy girls.

    Thanks for the recipe – K has the same response as the HH to beets. Am totally trying this. Thanks Ricki!

  17. This is a yummy-looking variation on a salad I constantly crave and make about once a week! In mine, I use lemon juice and oranges instead of lime juice, garlic, and pecans — I am definitely trying it your way next time though — sounds a bit more savory! Yum, thanks for the recipe!

  18. That is one incredibly beautiful and delicious looking salad!

  19. While winter is round the corner, I think we still have enough time to try this treasure.

  20. ahahaahahaha! i’ve never heard it refered to as transit time, Ricki – that is just too awesome! ahahahaha! my transit time must be pretty fast! it cracks me up that everything is pink with beets! aahahahahaa!

    your salad sounds amazing! i love beets, pecans, and pumpkin seeds (cilantro & lime sounds lovely, too)! it’s so pretty, too!

    and taxes – oh my! we haven’t even thought about ours yet. ugh!

  21. what a lovely vibrant salad! looks like a great way to use beets.

  22. Lisa,
    I’m hoping it will actually make spring arrive sooner. :)

    Arielle,
    Glad you’re also a beet fan. . .but does that make the HH a fool?? (don’t answer that. . .) ;)

    Meghan,
    Thanks!

    Amanda,
    No harm in considering the health benefits along with the taste, right? ;)

    Johanna,
    Glad to say I couldn’t resist. :)

    Vegancowgirl,
    Glad you like the sound of it! Let me know how he likes it (and you, too, of course) if you do try it out!

    eatavegan,
    Your version sounds great, too! I think I’ll have to try that one next.

    Vegetation,
    Thanks so much!

    Rosemary,
    I think it’s actually a good salad for any season, as beets are a warming food. . . let me know how you like it if you do try it out!

    Jessy,
    You’re too funny! That is actually the term we learned in nutrition school–quite appropriate, no? ;)

    Cheryl,
    It’s my new favorite way to use beets (well, certainly while I’m on the ACD, anyway–but of course that could change!).

  23. that looks so pretty!

  24. Your salad looks perfect! I’ll certainly give it a try, though I may have to think of something to replace the carrots, as my boyfriend has recently developed an allergy to raw carrots. Oh well, the result will be different, but with such a great basic idea and a bit of creativity, it will certainly be good too!

  25. That looks delicious!

    [I noticed that you changed the color and size of the comments link. :)]

  26. Such a perfect spring salad. If only the temperatures would start to warm up! I’m sitting here shivering with a cup of tea. Your new home looks great Ricki and I like the drop down menus at the top for the archives and the categories. Nice and neat and clean and inviting.

  27. I love your stories, Ricki. I can just imagine you in each these spring places, especially dressing up and going out in Florida.

    I had to wash my parents’ schnauzer’s paws a couple times when I was home. Their yard is pure mud since they haven’t seeded it, so we always cringed when the girl came back in. And, oh, she hates baths. :0) I didn’t mind cleaning her since I love to baby her.

    I like the Georgia font. Your site had the same feel.

  28. That looks awesome. I really need to update my blog reader to your new address. I love all of the different colors, textures, and sizes in that salad. I love having so much variety in a salad because it really enhances the flavor and the whole eating experience. Yum!

  29. this looks refreshing… i have to admit i’ve had a less than stellar spring so far, myself. maybe this salad will cheer me up :)

  30. I did some reading about the ACD diet. It seems very intense for a vegan. I applaud you for doing it.

    This salad looks great and I have never thought about eating my beets raw. I will give this a go!

    PS: You want to talk about dirty, try running 3 dogs in the rain and mud. I think I trump your 2 dogs and your dogs have short hair. Two of mine have long hair.

  31. Courtney says:

    I always thought raw beets tasted like dirt too! I like them roasted, but raw?! Well, if the HH liked it, maybe I will too! I will have to try it…I love the flavor combo with the cilantro, lime and garlic, so maybe this will be the salad that makes me learn to like raw beets?! It certainly LOOKS lovely!

    Courtney

  32. That sounds so good and perfect for spring! I LOOOOOVE beets and I can’t wait to make this once it gets just a lil bit warmer out.

  33. Absolutely stunning – the colours and the recipe :).

  34. Ricki, this salad is GORGEOUS! Wow, look at all the colors and how you piled it all up all pretty.

    ["Mum, to be fair, we really don't have a choice about the fur on the belly thing. . . unlike Dad, for instance."] It might be a few days before I can stop laughing at that one!! :D

    Now you made me curious about my transit time, but I promise not to report back to you with the results.

  35. Isn’t it funny hour our perspective changes so radically? I remember Spring evoking similar events – new jackets and swampers when we were little (then duck shoes when we were closer to 12), and the mud – everywhere – from the melting snow and the not thawing fast enough ground…
    I need to try to score some beets & carrots. I am just craving raw veg right now.

  36. Congratulations on your new site! Spring is here with that salad- lovely!!

  37. LOL- transit time :) eugh, i still have to do my taxes… shoot. hopefully this salad will brighten my day :)

  38. I love raw beets. I think they are much less earthy compared to cooked. The colors are gorgeous in this!

  39. That salad looks perfect! Is it me or did you get a new camera? Your pictures look amazing. Hearing you talk about tax season makes me greatful I’m still in school, and enjoying Spring Break. I hope the warmer weather comes soon, so you too can enjoy!

  40. Ricki, that salad looks FABULOUS! It has totally won my heart with the pepitas.. I think I know what could be worse – being in school and unable to celebrate Spring Break..taxes and mud WITHOUT the sand and shopping and whatnot. At least I have salad, cocktails, and much stellar shoes than I did as a 20-something.

  41. Yum what a fresh delicious looking salad!

    You know ever since you posted about your maple syrup giveaway I’ve had maple syrup on the mind. I picked up this big jug of it from Costco and am often thinking of how I can eat it.

  42. I LOVE really colorful springy looking food!!!! It has yet to really get above 50 here (and that’s on a good day) but I’m thinking this salad will be a great start to spring. Beets scare me a bit because they turn everything pink, but this may be worth the risk!

  43. Michelle says:

    Ok, I made this salad last night and it was yummy! I don’t think beets taste like dirt, I think they are fabulous!! However, my salad is a beautiful red color as the juice from the beets took over. How did you keep your carrots orange? I also bought the wrong kind of pumpkin seeds (duh) and used parsley instead of cilantro because it tastes like soap to me but it was still fabulous.

  44. I just made this for dinner tonight and it is delicious! I could have eaten the entire bowl myself.

  45. Who can resist such a gorgeous looking salad! Yes right for spring! & i have to say that i love ur new home… changed ur add. in my blogroll.

  46. Oh Ricki, that is sooo pretty! What an exciting combination of colors and flavors. It really sparks my imagination.

  47. YUM! And so pretty-looking.

    I am totally making this for dinner tonight. Thanks!

  48. No idea how I missed this one… I love the raw beetage! I’m growing them again this year – the candy cane ones (and purple carrots too!) – but I’m going to have to buy some now!

  49. “Unlike Dad…” Hilarious! I must have laughed aloud 5 times while reading this post! I love that I could hear you telling the stories (after hearing your voice at Nourished)! Thanks for brightening up my evening.

    And thanks for sharing your deliciously colorful recipe at Raw Foods Thursdays! I love the title “Crimson Salad” and all of the ingredients. Pinning it!

Trackbacks

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  4. […] my hubby thinks they “taste like dirt” when cooked, he’ll happily scarf down a plate of Crimson Salad with Pecans and Pumpkinseeds. So, if you think you don’t like beets, try them raw! Either way, they offer up amazing […]

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