|photo by L. Gatto-White|
We are encouraged to eat what’s local, fresh and seasonal, but in our climate that isn’t always possible, especially during the winter when most farmers’ markets shut their doors for the season. However, the colourful and nutritious root vegetables are still readily available. Beets are one of the best as they appear in early summer as little bulbous roots with a crown of tender green leaves ready to be steamed, buttered and eaten whole, then follow their progress through to late summer when they are sweetest, to maturation in the fall and winter when they achieve their full earthiness, ripe for pickling and roasting.
Beet greens and roots are very nutritious, being a good source of folate, manganese, potassium, fiber and vitamin C. When juiced they become a powerful liver detoxifier and a potent anti-oxidant useful as an anti-inflammatory. Some studies on animals indicate that beets may also help in fighting colon and stomach cancers.
This useful vegetable also comes in a variety of colours from beautiful deep garnet, yellow and orange gold to the white and red Chioggia which is great for slicing thinly, brining in dill and white wine vinegar to dress-up a summer salad, or add a nice crunch to liverwurst on rye. Mature beets are best cooked wrapped in foil and roasted unpeeled until soft to retain their flavour and nutrients, making them easier and less messy to peel. Once roasted until just tender, they can be used in a variety of delicious ways, such as a base for the Russian soup, borscht which uses the greens as well or added to risotto to make a stunning accompaniment to grilled lamb loin chops.
As you can see, the culinary possibilities are endless throughout each season as the beautiful, nutritious and delicious beet goes on and on… Bon Appetit!
Quick and Easy Borscht
- 6 medium beets plus tops and stems
- 4 medium carrots peeled and grated
- 1 medium bunch kale first 2” of stems trimmed off, the rest coarsely chopped
- 1 lb. Greek’s Lunenburg sausage
- ½ can 28 oz. plum tomatoes (with juice) coarsely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 2 medium red onions, medium dice
- 2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
- 2 tsp. sugar
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 chopped dill fronds
- ½ tsp caraway seeds
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3-4 cups water
- roast beets in foil for 40 mins. at 425, cool then peel and medium chop along with stems and leaves
- push sausage meat out of casing, pinching-off at ½” intervals to make little meatballs
- in a large soup pot heat 1 tsp. oil over medium heat, add sausage meatballs, turning to brown evenly
- to meatballs add onions, garlic, caraway seeds, dill and bay leaf, sauté briefly
- add rest of vegetables (except tomatoes), cover and steam/sauté briefly then add tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, juice and water; stir, cover loosely and simmer for approx. 1 hr., until flavours blend and vegetables are soft; add salt and pepper to taste
To serve: add juice of ½ lemon to soup in pot; garnish each serving with snip of fresh dill and a dollop of sour cream .
Accompany with liverwurst and sourdough rye bread or pumpernickel and a fine pilsner.
- prepared risotto for four
- 3 medium peeled and roasted beets at room temperature
- ½ tsp. each: ground nutmeg and freshly ground pepper
- Finely grated zest of ½ lemon
- Leaves from 2 stalks fresh tarragon, chopped
- 2 tbsp. butter
- ½ cup warmed 18 % cream
- Chop beets coarsely and puree in blender until smooth, add warm cream and blend to a pudding consistency
- add all seasonings to puree, and stir mixture into hot risotto, add butter and cover to rest off heat for 3 mins., serve without cheese.