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A French Accent: Cold Beef and Beet Salad

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Yes, Bastille Day comes around each year in the hottest part of the summer. But, there are ways to observe, if you have an affinity for things French, without overheating.

“Beets have a special affinity for cold beef,” writes chef and author James Peterson, in “Glorious French Food.” “Maybe because both do so well coated with a mustardy vinaigrette. Cold meats can be gently tossed or brushed with virtually any flavored mayonnaise, and vegetables can be added to provide color and contrasting texture.”

Use slices of leftover pot roast, steak or roast beef with this “Salade de Boeuf et de Betteraves,” or Beef and Beet Salad.

Salade de Boeuf et de Betteraves

4 beets (about 1 1/4 pounds, without greens) or the equivalent amount of smaller beets
4-6 slices leftover pot roast, steak, flank steak or slices of beef roast
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 large shallots, chopped fine
2 tablespoons good-quality wine vinegar
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Leaves from one small bunch parsley, preferable flat leaf, chopped coarsely at the last minute

The tastiest way to cook beets is to roast them, unpeeled. Rub them with oil or wrap them in aluminum foil and put them on a sheet pan in a 375-degree oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until a skewer goes in easily. On hot summer days, when I hate to turn on the oven, I boil them for the same length of time or cook them in the microwave for about 20 minutes, turning them over and around every 5 minutes. When they are done, drain them or take them out of the oven or microwave and let them cool for 20 minutes, and pull the skin off with your thumb and a paring knife. Slice into 1/4-inch-thick rounds then cut each round into a French-fry shape (which the French call ‘batonnets.’

If the slices of meat are large, cut them into a more manageable size – the more tender the meat, the larger the pieces can be. You might want to cut them into French-fry shapes, just like the beets. Toss the slices of beef gently in a mixing bowl with the beets, mustard, shallots, vinegar and oil, and parsley. Serve lightly chilled, season with salt and pepper.

Serves 2-4, depending on whether a lunch or dinner dish

From James Peterson, “Glorious French Food”

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