Saturday, April 9, 2011

Age-old Vegetable, New Recipe

The world is made of two kinds of people, those who love beets, and those who don’t.  In the Common Household, there are three of us who love beets.  We are not picky – we will eat canned beets whole or sliced, fresh beets boiled or roasted.  But up until now, I have only eaten fresh beets cooked by someone else, usually my brother.

A recipe in a Rachael Ray magazine, which I saw while trying to stay awake at the orthodontist’s office, inspired me to buy three large fresh beets.  These beets came with a voluminous amount of greens attached.  I had no idea what to do with them, or the time to figure it out, so I chopped them off and threw them away, imagining I heard the distant cry of environmentalists, “But you can make stewed beet greens!  Very nutritious!”

When it came time to cook these fresh beets, I looked at them more closely.  Fresh beets do not win any beauty contests.  They are hairy and suspicious looking, the color of freshly spilt blood.  Despite being fresh, they look ancient, as if they date from prehistoric times.

Raw fresh beets

The recipe I had jotted down had no instructions on whether to use them raw or cooked.  I found another recipe, for roasted beets, so I wrapped each one lovingly in foil, and stuck them in the hot oven for an hour.

Roasted, bleeding beets

The recipe did not lie when it said that after the beets are cooked you can peel the skin right off, under running water.  Pretty cool!  I might make roasted beets again soon just to experience this culinary feat. 

Then it was time to grate the beets.  It wasn’t too bad shredding steaming-hot beets, but it would have been easier if they had time to cool.  I must say, shredding beets gives the impression that a dread orthodontial accident has occurred to several preteen victims right there in the kitchen.  I decided to respect the beets’ potential to stain, and put on my RED apron.

I added a little grated orange zest, one orange’s worth of fresh squeezed juice, olive oil, and a little salt.  I crumbled some feta on top, but my fellow-beet lovers did not.  The beet lovers of the household were in favor of this recipe, but it was pretty much on the taste of the fresh beets alone that it won approval.  If I were going to make this again, I would add something with some zing – maybe a touch of garam masala or cayenne pepper.  Or lemon?  This recipe also needs a more interesting name, but that will have to wait until after Passover and Easter.

How about you – do you love beets or hate them?
Were you ever inspired by anything at the orthodontist’s office?

Common Household Shredded Beets

Serves 2 large or 4 small lovers of beets

3 to 4 fresh red beets
1 fresh orange
½ to 1 Tablespoon olive oil
¼ to ½ tsp salt
crumbled feta cheese (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400°.  Put on red apron.  Mercilessly chop off beet greens about 1 inch above beet, and discard the greens.  Chop off the nasty-looking tail on the beets.  Wrap the truncated beets in foil and roast until fork-tender, about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of the beets.  Let cool slightly. Using your fingers, peel the beets under running water.

Grate the beets on a zester or the small side of a box grater.   I got about 2 cups of grated beets.  

Grate some of the orange zest (the very outside of the orange peel) until you are tired (I used about ½ tsp).  Juice the orange (I got about 1/3 cup of juice). Add both to the beets.  

Add olive oil and salt (to your taste).  Mix. Put in serving bowl.  Sprinkle crumbled feta cheese on top, if desired.

A bowl of beets, a cup of wine, and thou


Anonymous said...

i also love beets so thanks for the recipe! i always roast them open, because i have heard that the evaporation leaves them more roasted than steamed.

i like to put on balsamic vinegar and a little olive oil and some kind of spice like lemon pepper. but i love your idea of orange or lemon zest.

beets are always on the list of the top 10 foods to eat so keep up the good work.

one more tip--i found some very good prices on them at soergel's.

jan f.

Joanie said...

Lagged out loud! I like beets but rarely have than. U have inspired me to ask bob to prepare them! I never read mags in doctors offices because of all the previous germy people who handled them and sneezed on them. I have been inspired by mu oath to get a part time job to pay his bill since my insurance doesn't cover it.

Anonymous said...

I have only ever eaten beets from a can. Somehow I don't think that's the same at all. Maybe when I grow up I'll try them fresh. Or I could just stop by your place sometime? Your recipe looks tasty. :)

Angie Kay Dilmore said...

I do like beets. Can't wait to try this recipe. Thanks!

Renee said...

I love beets, but my husband hates the smell of them cooking (and he hates eating them too). I started roasting them, as you did for this recipe a couple of years ago, and now I just roast them and eat them myself --peeled and chopped, they store in the fridge and microwave up with some butter and salt just fine.

My favorite way to eat them is just with salt. I just love their flavor, and now I'm going to have to get some beets this weekend.