We have become slightly obsessed with the oddest of vegetables, and we feel the need to share.
Beets (at least in my opinion) are not too popular in American culture. My childhood experiences with beets are limited to the canned beets with oddly-cut ridges that are a staple of salad bars; early in adulthood, I was introduced to pickled beet salads, which were a popular menu item of the high-end restaurant where I worked, which slightly expanded my knowledge of the root vegetable. But never had I cooked with beets, and other than pickling them, I had absolutely no idea what to do with them.
So for years, I have bypassed beets in the produce section… until this week, when for some reason, I was overtaken by the notion to cook with them. Come to find out, beets are 1) incredibly easy to cook and 2) REALLY delicious!
The simplest way to cook a beet is simply to boil it. No need to wash them: cut the stalks off and throw the beets into boiling water (it should be enough water to cover them). Boil them until you can start to stick a fork into them (about 35 to 45 minutes). Once the beets are done, take them out and rinse them with cold water: while under the cold water, rub away the skin. It will peel right off without the use of a knife or peeler. You are left with a delicious beet that is ready to eat!
I love slicing the beets and leaving them in the fridge to snack on, but there are a multitude of uses for this delicious veggie. One of the most simple is this salad recipe:
Beet, tomato and onion salad (serves 2)
You will need:
2-3 large beets
1 red onion
1 cup spinach (or any other salad greens)
Vinaigrette (store bought, simple olive oil and salt and pepper, or fancy and citrus-y: it doesn’t matter!)
Toss the beets and salad in the vinaigrette. Thinly slice the onions and place them over the salad. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Done! Enjoy! 🙂
Another great recipe is one which I just concocted: it is probably more appropriate for the summer, which makes sense because it is summer in Buenos Aires and I am craving foods with brighter flavors. This recipe is incredibly forgiving: you can substitute almost any of these ingredients with another, so I am giving some suggestions in place of the main ingredient. Have fun playing with the recipe!
Citrus, Beet and Feta Salad (serves 4)
You will need:
2-3 beets, sliced
2 cups mixed greens
A handful of orange, mandarin, or grapefruit wedges (your preference!)
Cashews (or pine nuts, or sunflower seeds, or almonds…. up to you! Try to keep them unsalted)
1 small red onion thinly, sliced
1 avocado, sliced
2 tomatoes, sliced (or a handful of cherry tomatoes cut in half)
Feta cheese to crumble on top (or goat cheese, or mozzarella: something soft and crumbly)
Simple vinaigrette (just olive oil and balsamic vinegar: or add some orange juice, honey and dijon mustard to be “fancy”) 🙂
Toss all of the ingredients except the avocado and feta in the vinaigrette (you don’t want to toss the avocado or feta because they will get mushy). Add the avocado and crumbled feta and finish with a few of the thin onion slices and some salt and pepper. Enjoy!
What wine to serve with a beet
The beet itself has a beautiful, subdued earthiness and slightly sweet flavor, so several wines (red and white) accompany it quite well.
When pairing a wine to the beet, you will probably have to think of pairing the other stronger flavors of the dish and not the beet itself: for example, in the Citrus, Beet and Vinaigrette salad, the tangy vinaigrette, strong citrus sections and the feta are probably the strongest flavors, and they would compliment an off-dry Riesling or a Torrontes very nicely. With its high acidity, a Sauvignon Blanc would most likely “cancel out” the acidity in the vinaigrette and leave your mouth feeling dry (and both the wine and the dish tasting bland). The Beet, Spinach and Onion salad might be better off with a Syrah, which would pick up the earthy qualities of the beet (the showcase of this dish). When you think along these lines, pairings become much simpler… and more fun!
If anyone has a great beet recipe, let us know! We would love to hear what is cooking in your kitchen.
We almost forgot! Make sure to wash your cutting board and hands right away: the beet juice will definitely stain! Keep this in mind when choosing which apron to wear as well: the darker, the better!