Good advice, I’d say, but it does reinforce the air of obligation beets already have about them; we’re admonished to eat them because they’re good for you, rarely because they’re delicious. Despite that crushing sense of duty, flavor is a great reason to chow down on beets, and now that local crops are veering toward root vegetables, there couldn’t be a more perfect time to sample them.
I think a lot of people have negative associations with beets after some childhood dining trauma, but they weren’t on my radar when I was young. In fact, I’m pretty sure I never tasted a beet until they started popping up in salads with goat cheese and frisée sometime in the ’90s. But that only takes care of the root — what about the greens, which also deserve a chance to shine? When Gil and I first moved in together (long before the dogs came to live with us), I exercised on the treadmill pretty regularly. Most of that treadmill time was spent watching Lidia Bastianich’s show where I learned, well, all sorts of things, one of which was that preparing beet greens is pretty simple. Her roasted beet salad stuck with me through the years and it’s always on the menu when I come home with some beautiful beets from the market.
I used golden beets this time instead of the deeper red ones because those were already spoken for. If you hate worrying about stained hands from preparing beets, you can wear gloves or just buy these golden beauties. They’re not quite as earthy as their darker cousins, but I love them just the same.
Of course, I can’t let a post about beets go by without pushing borscht on you. But this wasn’t just any borscht! No, I broke out my Veselka Cookbook and got to work on the lengthy process of cooking their most famous dish. Making it involved cooking three stocks — beef, pork and beet — along with much straining and simmering and work. So Much Work! The end product was satisfying and rich with a depth of flavor my regular borscht doesn’t have, but was it worth the extra five hours and four pots to make? For me at least, the answer is no because I can make it to the restaurant any time I want. But I did love their suggestion to use the strained beets from the stock in a salad composed of nothing more than beets, prepared horseradish and salt. I was skeptical, but found the combination addictive and kept nibbling away at tiny portions until I’d consumed an entire meal’s worth.
I somehow managed not to stain my newly white walls with any drips from the process of cooking, which we all should consider a miracle. All in all, it was a very successful beet week!
Update: I’m starting a new feature over at Amy Roth Photo called (provisionally, anyway) How I Got the Shot. I’m discussing the opening shot of this post for my very first entry. Take a look and let me know what you think!