Do you love beets yet? I don't mean those canned wanna-bes.
I'm talking about real beets, with glorious leaves still attached.
They have a earthiness about them, like all good root vegetables. Potatoes may be better known, but they are not so sweet. A beet isn't starchy like a potato, but it has a robust solidness to it that makes it a lovely dinner companion.
Every Saturday I look for one or two bunches of beets while I'm shopping, and most weeks I come away with beets in my grocery cart.
I know, I know. All the recipes say to scrub the beets but then leave the skins on while they are cooking. Well I do it my own way. I want to enjoy them hot out of the oven, and I don't like dealing with the skins then. Here is my method:
- Cut the greens and little root off of the beets. Wash the beets and peel them with a potato peeler. Your hands will turn red, but that's ok - it won't last long.
- Quarter the beets and put them in a roasting dish that has a lid. Add 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil and about 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Stir everything well until the beet pieces are oily.
- Put the lid on and bake at 350º for 1 hour.
- They are finished when they poke easily with a fork.
Again, I don't follow the usual recipes. There are plenty of recipes out there for sauteed beet greens. They taste ok sauteed, but Mark and I prefer our beet greens in a quiche. I substitute them for the chard in this recipe.
So last Sunday evening I was chopping up the beet greens for the quiche, and I commented to Mark that it was a shame to throw away the stems. They are so pretty and red! He tasted one and thought it tasted sort of like celery. Not much to it, in other words.
On a hunch, I did a google recipe search for Pickled Beet Stems. Sure enough! I found a simple and tasty recipe here. I didn't have all the ingredients, but I didn't let that bother me. There are all kinds of pickle flavors, right? So I substituted some whole cloves since I didn't have any coriander seeds on hand. And instead of dill seed, I scooped a little brown mustard into the pot.
Mmmmmm! Later that evening I added some pickled beet stems to our salad in a jar recipe, and they give a wonderful little punch of flavor every few bites. We're sold! What a wonderful way to use every part of the plant.
Thank you for your beautiful red deliciousness, dear beets! I'll be seeing you again next Saturday when I do my grocery shopping!
*Oh, and in case you were wishing for a poem about beets, I found one here that is rather lighthearted, written by a street poet in San Francisco. Found another one here that is rather solemn and serious and very beautiful. Perhaps a beet poem should go on my writing projects list...