Beets were the number one item on the list of “best foods you are not eating” which first appeared in the NY Times in 2008 (http://nyti.ms/2IATkZ). This incredibly popular article lists eleven foods that are good for you but for some unknown reason don’t make it to the dinner table or into people’s lives. So what is it with beets? Sometimes it’s a matter of the labor involved (the long cooking time and messy peeling process), and is probably why they are so popular in our store. We’ve had beets on our daily menu since we first opened in 2007 and they continue to be a big seller. And now we understand they have become very popular in upscale restaurants too!
The Nutritional Value of Beets
Beets are related to spinach and chard; the leaves and ribs are all edible and good for you: from the New York Times article, “Dr. Bowden says, … they are a rich source of folate as well as natural red pigments that may be cancer fighters.” Mostly we boil the beets, peel and cut them, then cover with a vinaigrette/brine seasoned with star anise and clove. They are great oven roasted as well: we parboil them briefly before peeling, seasoning and roasting. Occasionally we have golden beets which are a bit milder in flavor and appeal to those who are not crazy about beets. This week we are making borscht so stop in for a warming bowl of beet soup!
And just for fun, we thought we would share a wonderful excerpt from Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume:
“The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.
Slavic peoples get their physical characteristics from potatoes, their smoldering inquietude from radishes, their seriousness from beets.
The beet is the melancholy vegetable, the one most willing to suffer. You can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip…
The beet is the murderer returned to the scene of the crime. The beet is what happens when the cherry finishes with the carrot. The beet is the ancient ancestor of the autumn moon, bearded, buried, all but fossilized; the dark green sails of the grounded moon-boat stitched with veins of primordial plasma; the kite string that once connected the moon to the Earth now a muddy whisker drilling desperately for rubies.
The beet was Rasputin’s favorite vegetable. You could see it in his eyes.”
And here is our favorite recipe for Borscht! Another great thing you can do with beets!
3 lg. beets, peeled and shredded
3 lg. carrots, peeled and shredded
3 medium baking
potatoes, peeled and cubed 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 lg. onion, sliced thin
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
2 qts. water or vegetable broth
1 medium head cabbage, cored and shredded
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
3 cloves garlic
minced salt and black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon white sugar, or to taste sour cream, for garnish
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill for garnish
horseradish also makes a nice garnish with a little kick
Sweat the vegetables in the oil, (beets, onion, garlic and carrots) until they release their juices. Then add tomato paste and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the water, salt, pepper, and diced tomato. Simmer for 1/2 hour and then add the cabbage and potato. Cook for another 20 minutes, then adjust seasoning. Garnish with the sour cream, dill and horseradish as an option. It can also be chilled and served cold.