Friday, July 6, 2012
all about beets
I really love beets.
This is a recent development. Until starting my internship I'd only had one or two chances to consume these lovely root veggies and I'd never encountered the greens. Both, in my mind, are excellent. But people seem to either hate them or adore them. True, they're quirky. The best way I can describe their flavor is "earthy." But I think generally when people dislike a food, or think they dislike a food, it's because the first time they had it (often as children) it was poorly prepared.
Beets are very closely related to chard; the one is cultivated mainly for its root and the other for its leaf. They come in a variety of colors and patterns: crimson, purple, white, gold, solid, stripped. They've been used in folk medicine as a treatment for fever, constipation, and a dressing for wounds. Also, they're a good source of folate, potassium, manganese, and betaine (the last of which is particularly good for digestion).
I have yet to really experiment with cooking beets. But so far this is what I do:
Separate the greens from the roots and chop the greens. Saute them in olive oil, along with garlic scapes or onions, until the leaves are well wilted. Plate them and top with a poached egg. Sprinkle on a little feta or goat cheese, if you like. Along with some homemade bread, this makes a very fine lunch.
The roots, the actual beets, I like roasted. They're like vegetable candy.
A few weeks ago I made a pizza of vegetables: sauteed chard and roasted zucchini, onions and beets with mozzarella sprinkled on top. The beets added a curious, but pleasant, sweetness among all the savory-ness.
I've also had them roasted on a salad, here. And golden ones, here.
Some things I'd like to try with beets:
Chocolate beet cake with beet cream frosting
Beet and cabbage coleslaw
Roasted beet and blood orange salad
Beet pasta with ricotta
Savory beet soup
Beet "rawvioli" with pesto oil