Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Beautiful Beets

Until about 2 years ago I would have told anyone who asked that the only vegetable I didn’t like was beets.  My mom still tells the story about how she tried to feed me beets (from a jar- yuck!) as a one year old, only to have me raspberry them at her and cover her and the wallpaper behind her in deep red spittle.  

Now that I have my own kids, I’m constantly trying to get them to try new things and we are frequently looking for new foods & recipes to try.  Fortunately, I have pretty adventurous eaters so one day when we went to the Court Street farmers market one fine Fall day looking for a new veggie & I boldly suggested we challenge ME to find a way to make beets that I would eat.  They thought this suggestion was an excellent idea!

 I figured my safest bet was to roast them, since I love pretty much anything roasted, which was a good call.  Roasting  (or grilling!) beets takes the bite out of them and mildly sweetens & mellows them.  If you still aren’t sure and are a vinegar freak like myself, you can also drizzle some red wine vinegar on them to effectively “pickle” them.  My family and I now eat beets on a regular basis, especially when we pick them from our own garden or can find baby beets at the farmers market. 

Over the last two years I’ve learned a few things about both growing and cooking beets, which I’d love to share. 
1.     Growing beets is incredibly easy.  You can plant them very early in the season, from seed, and they require very little care- just remember to thin them early once they sprout so there is room for the bulbs to grow.   
2.     The beet greens are delicious and have a very unique flavor.  Even my kids like them sautéed in just a little grape seed oil, salt & pepper.   Garlic if you’re feeling fancy.
3.     There’s no reason you can’t eat the skins of most beets.  Scrub them like you would a potato & roast. 
4.     If you don’t want the skins on your beets, wrap them in tin foil while roasting them, which simultaneously steams them.  Don’t open the foil until they’ve cooled & by then the skins will slip right off. 

Even if you think you don’t like them, give them a try this way and I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Photo credit: Darwin Bell