Classic Cookbooks: Color Me Pretty

Because I rarely think about color when I’m planning what to cook, I always feel guilty when I read about how important it is to one’s enjoyment of a meal. The thing is, I’m not sure how true that is for me. One of my favorite things about my family’s Thanksgiving is that everything on my plate is unapologetically brown, white, and delicious. And when my Tuesday night dinner at home has already taken twice as long as I thought it would to prepare, taking the extra ten minutes to clean and chop a dusting of green herbs or red peppers or yellow lemon zest almost never seems worth it.

A Newfound Fondness for Beets

I do have a soft spot for vividly or oddly hued foods, and I do try to get a lot of different colors in over the course of the week; I just don’t manage to make every night’s plate look like a color wheel. As a child I was fascinated by page 117 in Martha Stewart’s Entertaining, which features a bowl of pepto-bismol-pink iced borscht framed by spring flowers and garnishes. My desire to eat pink soup was matched only by my determination never to consume a beet, and there the matter stood for most of my life.

Having in my ripening become quite fond of beets, I finally made that soup the other day, and…the color was not right at all! Instead of being spring-tulip-pink it looked, alas, like normal borscht, the shade just past hot pink and before magenta. Since my soup was also not nearly as glossy as the model, I’m wondering if they stirred in some heavy cream, or maybe they used those beautiful candy cane beets instead of the plain old dark ones.

In any event, here is a colorful menu for springtime, all adapted from Entertaining:

None of these salads blew my taste buds away (I think I should have tasted and corrected seasoning more vigilantly for each one; this is another crucial part of cooking that I get lazy about), but they did make for a vivid table. If only I had thought to use purple fingerlings for the potato salad!