Beets!

In 4th form, Cat’s parents came up to school.  For some reason I will never, ever understand, Cat’s dad arranged for the restaurant where our families were sharing a meal to bring me a plate of sliced beets.

Beets from a can – the purple tube of veggie gel that held zero appeal to me.  He dared me to eat one, may have even offered to pay me, but I would not.  As a child, I was known for requesting meals like liver and onions for my special birthday dinner, so it was fairly unusual for me to refuse to eat something.  Then again, the beet incident took place after the sweetbreads incident.

(To the uninformed: do not order sweetbreads thinking you’ve somehow cracked the code of parental control over your menu selections and will get a basket of gooey cinnamon buns for dinner.  You will be sorely disappointed.)

I did not tackle beets again until a couple of years ago.  After a peripatetic drive through the Montrose, passing restaurant after restaurant until we got hungry enough to come to some kind of dinner detente, we settled on Nino’s.  Feeling bold, I ordered the beet salad.

Chilled, roasted beets, avocado, fennel, French green beans, sweet onion … WOW.  The beets crunched like earthy cubes of sweet-smelling dirt.  Or, the way you hoped dirt would taste before you actually sampled some.  You know what I mean – the way coffee can smell so good but taste so bitter?  Except here, the mineral smell opened up like a great red wine.

It took awhile for me to get around to cooking them at home.  We’ve been in a vegetable rut for a few years, but I’m determined to show more love to all the denizens of the produce section these days, and so, a few weeks ago, beets.

I found an article that suggested cooking beets the same way I cook potatoes, cubed and roasted.  In case the link goes down, here it is:

  • Cut off the root end, then peel your beets.  I leave the stems attached to serve as handles while peeling, then remove & save for another use.
  • Toss your cubed beets with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast, covered, in a 375-degree oven for 20 minutes.  Remove the covering, and roast an additional 20 minutes or so.

A few weeks ago, I tossed roasted golden beets, slightly cooled, with a dijon vinaigrette over arugula.  Tonight, I mixed purple ones with yellow and red cherry tomatoes, roasted pine nuts, and gluten-free veggie rotini pasta.  I mean to saute some of the beet greens to add in, but honestly, I forgot.

Both ways, the beets are FABULOUS.   Try them.  One benefit to roasting them – no purple stains on my fingers.

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One Response to Beets!

  1. Anneliese says:

    I had a similar experience with beets. After having to eat the canned version at a cousin’s house, I turned away from them in horror whenever they appeared on a menu. Then one evening I found myself confronted with a beet, blue cheese, and endive salad at a small dinner party. At the time, I desperately wanted the older gentleman giving the party to think me sophisticated and worldly. I screwed up my courage, took a bite, and was as surprised as you by the earthy taste and crisp texture. My opinion of beets changed so completely that I began ordering the occasional beet dish at restaurants, the best being the tower of beets at Restaurant Nora in DC. I have not yet tried cooking them on my own, but buoyed by your post and my recent kale triumph, perhaps I will.

    Oh and try them with endive and blue cheese.

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