Early gardeners were a practical bunch, growing food that kept well and matured properly in our short growing season. Beets were a staple in the 18th century.
According to the researchers at Parks Canada, beet salad was probably served at most suppers and banquets at Chateau St. Louis, a historic site which was the home of the governors of New France, and later of Lower Canada.
This recipe is featured in an app that Parks Canada has put together to mark Canada 150.
Capers were imported from France by the wealthy, and gave the salad much more flavour. The poor would have made do with simply beets with salt. Some may also have pickled nasturtium pods, and made their own caper substitute.
The salad can be made with standard red beets, but it’s more visually appealing when prepared with a mix of colours, or with just golden beets, which don’t tend to bleed the way red beets do.
Three or four small beets
3 ½ oz drained capers
5 oz quality olive oil (or to taste)
Place the washed, unpeeled beets in a saucepan with enough water to cover them. Boil covered, for 30 minutes.
Drain the beets and let cool slightly. Peel the beets and dice them into a large bowl; add the capers and mix well.
Toss with olive oil and serve.