Beet vs. Meat

It was a fun idea my friend, Amanda, and I had.

She was bringing a vegetarian to our house for dinner. (“What’ya wanna go and do that for!??” I protested.)


I told her as long as it was a vegetarian who didn’t mind other people around him eating meat, that was fine.

“The first course might even be RAW meat!” I told her.

“I LOVE raw meat!” she replied.

I was planning to start things off with a carpaccio. Maybe I could make her friend a beet carpaccio while we were eating our meat.

And then came the fun idea part — beet vs. meat. Maybe for every dish I was making that would contain meat, the dude’s version would instead have beet!

Our wild mushroom pizza with guanciale would be — for him — wild mushroom pizza with beet! Tomato and crab pasta would become tomato and beet pasta! A small-taste cube of brilliant red steak with Maldon salt would be replaced by a small-taste cube of brilliant red beet with Maldon salt!! Brilliant!

It sounded fun to us, at least.

“That’s got all the makings of a great blog post!” she said.

But then I began to wonder if our guest would think it was fun.

“You find my dietary choices humorous, do you?” I imagined him saying in the middle of the party, creating an awkward moment.

I couldn’t go through with it, so I planned tasty alternatives instead — the beet carpaccio to start, a nice potato and wild mushroom dish to stand in for the “surf & turf” of prime New York strip and tempura-fried scampi.

The guests arrived, I liked the vegetarian — Eric — so was happy I gave his dinner proper attention. He was glad too (“Thank you for accommodating me,” he said at the evening’s end).

Eric digs in

Eric digs in

Kidding aside, I often enjoy having vegetarians join a regular dinner because it hands me the creative challenge of how to adapt the evening’s menu without making two entirely different things.

As it turned, I discovered out Eric wasn’t a vegetarian after all! He was that uniquely Californian creation (albeit a Seattle version), the pescetarian. We discovered this at the third course — a penne with tomato saffron sauce and snow crab — when my wife returned from the table with the crab-free portion of pasta and said, “He eats crab!!” So I quickly “crabbed” his pasta and sent it back out.

This also meant I could adorn his “surf & turf” with at least the “surf” shrimp portion. (“Turf” would have to be more of the traditional Irish understanding of the word — potato.) Amanda and I would not have our fun gag, but I would still have my blog post. And Eric would have a nice evening to take home with him.

And now, it’s time for your beet carpaccio. You know you want it. (And should you choose to replace the beet with thinly sliced meat, I’m sure Eric would understand.)

*    *    *

Beet carpaccio
serves 4

1 lb. beets, peeled and boiled until tender
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon
4 oz. shaved pecorino romano
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
flaky sea salt & freshly ground pepper

Use your best quality olive oil for this dish. For a more attractive plate, you might choose several types of beets — classic ruby red, candy striped, golden, etc.

Thinly slice beets with a sharp knife or on a mandoline. Arrange on four plates.

Drizzle each with some olive oil, and squeeze a little lemon over each. Sprinkle cheese and pine nuts over the top of the carpaccio, and season to taste with salt and pepper.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cheryl "Cheffie Cooks" Wiser
    Dec 04, 2015 @ 00:57:16

    Love Beets Sean. I make a roasted yellow beet soup that is yumified (new word)! Cheryl. oh and a Feta-Beet-Celery Salad I loveeeeee for lunch! You did well…


  2. timoirish34
    Dec 04, 2015 @ 02:16:25

    Sorry Sean, hot lunches in private schools steered me away from beets for life. I have only enjoyed carpaccio dining out (The Rendezvous Court at The Downtown Biltmore does it great)–never thought I was up to attempting it at home. One day…


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