Beetroot & Parsnip Bulgur Salad
As a kid I would watch the 1992 Danish movie, Snøvsen, over and over again. It was about a short, one-legged, one-toed, long-nosed, no-armed creature. A boy, Eigil, finds Snøvsen in the forest by accidently stepping on him. They soon become friends and find the “cat in the hat.” At one point in the movie, Professor Blomme’s wife gets Snøvsen confused with a parsnip because of his shape (and her cluelessness). That was the first time I ever heard of this root vegetable, parsnip.
On Saturday I was at a nearby grocery store, Super King, and was reaching out for a parsnip when a middle-aged Armenian woman approached me, and asked, “What is that, what does it taste like, and what do you use it for?” I explained to her that I treat it as a cross between a carrot and celeriac (the root of celery sticks—so much better than the sticks, by the way!) Its appearance is that of a pale carrot; its taste is like both a carrot and celeriac. Did she know what celeriac is? I doubt it, but that was the closest comparison I could come up with. I went on to explain to her that I like to mix it with other vegetables—i.e., celeriac, carrots, beetroot, and potatoes—and then bake it all on a baking sheet in the oven with spices until it is nice and soft. After satisfying her curiosity, she said that she would not have known what to use it for but that she loved getting to know about new foods so that she could improve her cooking skills. What a great attitude to cooking! What a great attitude to life! If you do not ask about things you do not know about, how are you going to better your knowledge and your skills? How is a child otherwise going to develop unless it asks questions on a daily basis?
Beetroot used in this dish is commonly used in Scandinavia. In Denmark, is it most often pickled and eaten on top of rye bread (see Rugbrød: Danish Rye Bread) with liver paste, or with Danish meatballs, or pork belly, or as the vegetable component for dinner. It is high in nutrients and antioxidants, providing with the amazing ability to fight against cardiovascular diseases, as well as diabetes and high blood pressure.
When cooking with beets, be careful about getting the juice all over your kitchen and clothes. As you can tell from the pictures, the bulgur (and anything else in that salad!) turns pink as soon as it comes in contact with the beet juice. Beet juice is actually often used as a natural coloring in a variety of foods.
The original recipe calls for couscous over bulgur. Actually I was supposed to make it with couscous too, but at 6 o’clock in the morning, when cooking for a get-together right after church, all those grains look the same and I accidently reached out for the bulgur. :-) Luckily it all worked out OK! So don’t hesitate to make it with couscous if that’s what you prefer. Also, you can use celeriac rather than parsnip.
Personally, I love serving this salad as a side to a good BBQ or potluck. That way there will at least be one healthy item on the table
Beetroot & Parsnip Bulgur Salad
- 450g beetroot (1 lb), cooked (washed carefully and boiled whole with skin on for approximately 1 hour in salted water), skin rubbed off, cubed
- 225g parsnip (1/2 lb), cooked (peeled and boiled until soft), diced
- 600ml bulgur (2.5 cups), cooked (can be replaced with couscous or quinoa)
- Dressing: 1 part white vinegar, 3 parts canola oil, salt & pepper
- 1 tbsp capers
- Danish feta cheese, crumbled
- Garnish: Parsley
- In a small bowl, mix the ingredients for the dressing. Add the cooked beetroot and set aside.
- Pour the dressing and beetroot through a sieve with a bowl placed underneath. Mix the beetroot, parsnip and capers in a big bowl.
- Add the bulgur to the bowl and mix.
- Add desired amount of dressing (I used about 100ml or 1/2 cup).
- Let the salad sit in the fridge for 3-4 hours, or overnight.
- Crumble the feta cheese over the salad and garnish with parsley.