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Spring and Winter Vegetables with Pickled Onions and Olives for One

May 02, 2011 | Tags: Deborah Madison , Food , Vegetables | Post comment

Spring and Winter Vegetables with Pickled Onions and Olives for One

This makes a meal whether it’s lunch or dinner. It’s surprisingly practical and there’s no reason why you can’t make this for 2 or 4 or more. But when we eat alone we often think we don’t have the time to make something that’s pretty, substantial, fresh and health supporting, but we do.  

If you’re in the habit of steaming beets when you bring them home from the market you’ll have one ready to go. Asparagus takes literally minutes to cook, and the pickles? Also minutes, plus they’ll keep for days. Instead of a dressing, I drizzled a little olive oil over all and used the vinegar from the beets for that acid punch, but you could also season the vegetables with the Salsa Verde (from 2 weeks ago) or make a vinaigrette from scratch.

1 golden beet, already cooked if possible
5 stalks of asparagus
1 small red onion, thinly sliced in rounds
rice wine or apple cider vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
olive oil, such as one made from Arbequina olives
4 oil cured olives

The Beet: If you haven’t already cooked a beet, cut off the stems and trim the tails, leaving an inch of each.  Steam over simmering water until tender, anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes depending on the size. (This is why it makes sense to steam several beets ahead of time.) When you pierce the beet with a paring knife it should enter but encounter just a little resistance. Slip off the skins or peel and slice into wedges.

The Onion Pickle: Toss the separated onion rings with several tablespoons vinegar and a pinch of salt. Set aside and every so often, given them a turn. By the way, it’s not necessary to use an entire onion. You can just slice off a few rounds and leave it at that. If you make a lot, keep it well covered in the refrigerator and use within a few days or up to a week.

The Asparagus: If you have thick asparagus, peel the stalks, otherwise it’s not necessary. (See last week’s column)  Soak them in cold water while you bring a skillet of water to a boil. Add salt, then the asparagus, and cook until tender - just a few minutes. Remove to a towel to dry.

And Finally: Arrange the beets, onion pickles and asparagus on a plate with the olives.  Spoon a teaspoon of olive oil over all and a few drops of the onion-vinegar. Sit down and enjoy.

Some other foods you might include in this salad are:
- sliced avocado, arugula, another colored beet
- walnuts or pine nuts
- crumbled feta cheese or sliced ricotta salata
- salsa verde, lemon vinaigrette, capers
- a hard-cooked egg
- chopped parsley or tarragon, chives and chive blossoms