Popular writer Darcie Hossack serves up roasted beet salad
By Darcie Hossack
Recap: Last summer, a rare and sudden appearance of the elusive Bugzilla caused our friend, Dave, to revert to his caricature self.
Confronted with the black, hairy, be-winged beast that hovered menacingly near his face, Dave reeled backwards, arms oaring through the air, until he crashed into his outdoor grill and sent it down the wooden steps of his backyard deck, breaking off plastic parts before it finally banged to a rest.
Take-out was later enjoyed by all.
Naturally, Dave has yet to live this story down. Mostly because we won’t let him. And because I insisted on spreading word of his folly in print.
The funny thing about folly, however, is that it’s seldom an isolated event.
In fact, I’m hoping it might become an annual outdoor eating chapter for which I can supply recipes.
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For instance, I’m thinking of a nice side dish to go with “Dave’s Follies,” chapter two.
Some years ago, when freshly married to my BFF, Dave was helping out one laundry day.
Not one to simply fluff, fold and repeat his way through a series of baskets, Dave was soon making his own entertainment with the items, many of which were still a novelty for him to find among his accustomed towels, jeans and other manly textiles.
In the course of time, the laundry was put away and forgotten. And like the ambitions of many young men, Dave’s attentions soon turned outdoors.
A beautiful July day, there was a lawn to mow, scary honeybees to avoid and an outdoor grill just waiting for ignition. All just part of a summer’s Sunday afternoon.
Now, before we arrive at the punchline, there are a few other things you need to know.
For example, Dave and his wife, at the time, lived in a suite in the basement of her grandmother’s home. An acquaintance from their church lived next door. And Dave had a favourite baseball hat, worn like a weekend uniform.
So, after making rounds with the mower, came the best part of the day. The reward for a satisfying afternoon of domestic accomplishments. Dave got out his BBQ apron and tongs, and stuffed a couple of foil pockets with chopped potatoes, onions and carrots. He fetched a marinated pair of steaks from the fridge where they’d been soaking up flavours before he’d grill them to his own personal standard of perfection (well done, nary a drop of juice left to aid with swallowing).
It was around the time that Dave was on the deck, flipping beef and chatting with his grandmother-in-law and neighbour – who were looking at him oddly – that his wife came home from in-town errands.
“Dave,” she hissed, stopping in her steps. “Dave, please come here.”
“What have you been doing today?” she asked when he obliged.
“Supper. Lawn. Laundry before that. Why?”
“Because,” she said. “I hate to break it to you, but you’re wearing my underwear on your hat.”
Which is why, when we visited lately, we volunteered to do the grilling, while Dave stayed inside dressing roasted beets from Okanagan Culinary Farms in Lake Country.
Okay, you’ve got us. We did that, too.
Roasted Beet Salad
approx. 2 1/2 lbs mixed, medium (golf ball-sized) beets
(use all purple, or all pale varieties to prevent colour transfer)
2 shallots, peeled, quartered
5 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
8 sprigs thyme
1 stalk oregano, leaves only
2 tbs rice wine vinegar
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper
Scrub beets and trim off tops. Divide onto two large sheets of aluminum foil and drizzle each with a tbs of olive oil. Add shallots, three whole sprigs thyme each, and season moderately with salt and pepper. Wrap into packets and place on the top rack of a heated outdoor grill (or roast in oven) until tender to the tip of a knife; an hour or more.
When done, cool beets and gently rub skins off using paper towels. Discard thyme. Quarter beets and slice shallots and place in a medium bowl. Add the chopped leaves from the oregano and toss with remaining olive oil and rice wine vinegar. Season to taste.