I am back in the college world and, although this time I am a grad student, the college tradition of every meal being a potluck lives on. The overall quality of potluck dishes seems to have increased from chips and salsa to things like homemade tiramisu.

Since we are all busy these days with piles of reading, model making, sketching, writing, etc. the potlucks have proven to be an interesting challenge in making good food quickly. The homemade tiramisu, for example, turned out to be a fairly easy process – you just needed to allow time for things to set overnight. As someone who loves the process of cooking though, of bringing people into the kitchen together with glasses of wine and conversation, slowly watching a meal emerge, the college potluck thing has been challenging for me.

On a recent potluck evening, I found myself peeking up from a mountain of work to check the time and realized I had only an hour or two to figure out what I was bringing. I racked my brain for something relatively in season that I could make quickly. I raced to my favorite grocer and bought an equal number of beets to local apples. I didn’t yet know what I was making, but surely those things would taste good with each other.

When I got home, there was less than an hour to get out the door. I threw together what turned out to be a really delicious beet and apple salad. The key is using good quality beets – mine were organic and local. It was simple, healthy and delicious.

Beet & Apple Salad

  • 8 beets
  • 4 apples
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 2 T honey
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, loosely crushed
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper
  1. Boil the beets for about 30 minutes, fully submerged in water. Don’t bother washing or trimming them beforehand. When you can pierce them easily with a fork, they are done.
  2. Drain the beets. Run the beets under cold water while peeling off the skins with your fingers. Chop the beets into bit-sized pieces, about 1 inch.
  3. While you are peeling beets, toast the hazelnuts on a flat baking sheet until lightly browned, either in the oven or a toaster oven.
  4. Chop the apples into bit-sized pieces, about one inch, and toss them in with the beets.
  5. In a small bowl, mix the cider, oil and honey together whisking briskly until combined. Poor over the apple and beet mixture and toss well.
  6. Salt and pepper the salad to taste. Toss the toasted hazelnuts in with the salad. Refrigerate until serving.

I had some fresh chevre cheese in the fridge I decided at the last minute not to use, in case anyone had a dairy issue (which someone did end up having). The cheese would turn pink from the beet juice, but I think it would add a nice creamy texture. It appears my “throw it together quickly” cooking skills are improving and I hope you enjoy the recipe as much as I did!

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