At nine o'clock last night, it was still too hot to cook. I looked through the fridge for a cold option, but yogurt, cold beets, and pickles looked none too promising. Until I remembered my mother's summertime favorite: chilled beet borscht.
With the heatwave raging on and no end in sight, it was time to get creative. I threw the cold beets into the food processor along with some of their cooking juice, a leftover container of sautéed scallions and celery leaf, and a dash of heavy cream. The resulting mixture was a deep, soupy, magenta nearly as beautiful as it was delicious. The best part is, it can be cooked early in the morning or late at night, when the air is cooler and the kitchen more inviting.
CHILLED BEET BORSCHT
Put on 3 cups water to boil with 4 medium sized beets. Cook until tender, about 20-30 minutes, saving cooking water. In a separate pan, heat 1 tablespoon butter. Sauté 1 cup chopped scallion, 1/8 cup chopped celery leaf, and 1 cup sweet pea tendrils or other greens. Add 1 teaspoon salt and sauté for 5-7 minutes.
Set up food processor and add cooked beets and sauté mixture along with 1 cup beet water. Puree and season to your taste with any or all of the following, making sure to sample as you go: 1/4 cup heavy cream, 1/8 cup white wine, 1/2 cup chicken broth, and 1 teaspoon white vinegar. If consistency is too thick, thin with beet broth. Chill for several hours; serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt or a sprinkling of scallions.