You can’t beat vibrant pickled beets

This condiment’s vinegary punch and fragrant spice wakes up cozy winter comfort food

Photo: Daytona Strong Brighten up the dreariest winter days with vibrant pickled beets.

Photo: Daytona Strong
Brighten up the dreariest winter days with vibrant pickled beets.

Daytona Strong
Norwegian American Weekly

When whispers of snow start to fall and the weather suggests that I break out my beloved Norwegian sweater, there’s little that satisfies more than a hot meal, with fibrous yet tender meats and starchy vegetables almost melting into each other. It’s the type of dish that warms to the core, the kind that earns the label “comfort food.” Yet I’m a fan of big, bold flavors, particularly in the form of fresh herbs and pickled vegetables. And that’s where this week’s recipe comes in.

Pickled beets are a classic Scandinavian condiment, something to serve with everything from meaty stews or pytt i panna—a hash typically made with leftover meat—to a more fresh-tasting dish of cod with creamy mustard sauce.

I came up with this recipe for my Scandinavian food blog, Outside Oslo, last winter. Though coming from no single source, this recipe takes cues from The Scandinavian Cookbook by Trine Hahnemann, a 1964 recipe found on Epicurious.com, and An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler; the addition of star anise comes from Hahnemann, a Danish chef.

No matter what cozy dishes grace your dinner table in these coldest months of the year, a few slivers or slices of these easy pickled beets are sure to brighten up your plate.

Photo: Sharon Hahn Darlin / Wikimedia Commons Pytt i panna is one of many dishes that can benefit from a garnish of pickled beets.

Photo: Sharon Hahn Darlin / Wikimedia Commons
Pytt i panna is one of many dishes that can benefit from a garnish of pickled beets.

Scandinavian Pickled Beets with Star Anise
3-4 medium beets
2 cups distilled white vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsps. salt
1/4 tsps. pepper
1 star anise

To cook the beets, I like to use Tamar Adler’s method from An Everlasting Meal: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Arrange the beets snugly in a shallow pan, she instructs, then with the water running and the pan tipped to the side, wash the beets under its stream, leaving a little of the water pooled in the pan once it runs clear. Cover the pan tightly with foil, then roast until the beets are cooked through, about 40 minutes for medium-sized beets. Adler’s method steams the beets and allows the skins to be easily rubbed off once the beets are cooled. After rubbing off the skins, cut the beets into quarter-inch slices and place in a shallow, heat-safe dish.

Place vinegar in a medium-sized pot along with sugar, salt, pepper, and star anise. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Pour over the beets. Let cool in the refrigerator overnight before serving. The flavor gets stronger the longer these sit, so be sure to drain them once they’re as pickled as you like.

For the sake of transparency I should let you know that I’ve received review copies of some of Hahnemann’s books. I love them, regardless, and they hold prime spots in my Nordic cookbook collection.

Daytona Strong is a Seattle-based food writer and recipe developer. She writes about her family’s Scandinavian heritage through the lens of food at www.outside-oslo.com. Find her on Facebook www.facebook.com/OutsideOslo; Twitter @daytonastrong; Pinterest @daytonastrong; and Instagram @daytonastrong.

This article originally appeared in the Jan. 15, 2016, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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