Sunday, July 20, 2008

Beet it

Although I'm the son of a (former) farmer, I pretty much refused to eat vegetables until I was well into my twenties. Somehow, I managed to survive on meat, potatoes, canned Campbell's beans, and the occasional Flintstones vitamin.

In retrospect ... well, God love her, but my mother overcooks most food. (It's not till I was around 10 that I realized hamburgers weren't supposed to be crunchy on the outside. This was a revelation.) I think it's mainly a generational thing; people in her age group seem to like to cook vegetables till they're pale and limp. (The vegetables, not the people.)

Although I've grown in my appreciation of veggies since childhood, I sometimes have to remind myself to eat them. It's easy for me to fall into a meat-and-potatoes rut. And some vegetables have continued to pretty much spook me. Like beets.

Until I found the following recipe for gingered beet slaw. It comes from the newsletter of a CSA to which we belonged for a time; it originally appeared in the Terrific Pacific Cookbook, by Anya Van Bremzen.

Even inveterate beet haters (and new beet lovers, like Bix) will like this.

Gingered Beet Slaw

2 lbs. beets, trimmed, leaving 2 inches of stem attached
1/2 cup minced shallots
1-1/2 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/3 cup slivered fresh basil leaves
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1 tablespoon orange juice
2 tablespoons lime juice
2-1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup canola or peanut oil
salt and pepper to taste

Combine beets with cold water to cover in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer covered until beets are tender, 30-45 minutes. Drain beets and place in a bowl of cold water until cool. Slip off the skins, and pat dry with paper towels.

Grate or shred the beets, and toss with the shallots, ginger, basil, and orange zest.

In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, lime juice, vinegar, and sugar. Slowly whisk in the oil until emulsified. Add the dressing to the beets and toss well. Season with salt and pepper and chill.

(Oh, and yellow beets are milder than the red ones. And a less scary looking.)


God Is My Codependent said...

Forget it. I never use recipes with verbs like "whisk." Even "grate" and "shred" are pushing it.

Here's the list of things I'm willing to do to eat: fry, boil, add, and mix. That's it. If someone writes "The Fry, Boil, Add, and Mix Cookbook," let me know.

And what the heck is orange zest?

Jim Donahue said...

The orange outside of the orange. You take it off with a zester. (Really.)

But don't go too deep--the white stuff underneath is the pith (Really), and it's bitter.

fermicat said...

I'll try this sometime. I get really bored with all the standard veggie side dishes. Yawn. But this could be cool. Yeah. Beets. Usually I only like them pickled. By people I know and trust. 'Cuz beets are weird.

Abhijit said...

you should try baking a red beet. cover it with a foil, and mo=icrowave it for4-5 min, and then leave it to cook by itself.

when cooled, it makes for wonderful water-baloon substitute!

A said...



Bix said...

Beets and ginger ... great combo. I'll have to play with this. I appreciate you posting it.

(You used to belong to a CSA ... past tense? Was there something about it that was offputting?)

Jim Donahue said...

Short answer: 100 bushels of swiss chart; 1 bunch of carrots.

TootsNYC said...

Il ove *eating* beets. Cooking them seems scary--I'm convinced the red water in the pan will sneak into my closet and stain everything I own.

I think I'd have to seal every towel in the house inside a plastic bag before I tried to cook a beet.

But that gingered slaw sounds good!

If they'd given you more carrots than Swiss chard, I'd give you my gingered-carrot-salad recipe :oil & lemon juice, grated ginger, a little mustard, salt and pepper over grated carrots and thinly sliced scallions (6 scallions to 1 lb. carrots)

Jim Donahue said...

Any yellow beets in your local market, Toots? You don't have to work about the color staining anything that way. And I'd swear they're sweeter.

Dave said...

A confession, one of the things I love on a generic salad bar is pickled beets. Even better is same said with some onion slices and a caper or three. I am sorry; but, they aren't bad.

TootsNYC said...

Oh, believe me, Jim--the yellow ones will stain everything yellow. Then it'll look like I PEED on my kitchen towels, instead of bleeding on them!

But I bet they are sweeter. If nothing else, yellow beets would have a coolness factor of 50.

Dave, somebody actually EATS capers?
I always think of the crack by Nora Ephron in her book "Heartburn" (which has a great peach pie recipe, BTW, which I call "heartburn" peach pie when I make it to people's consternation). Her character has a job developing recipes for the caper company, to put in a "how to cook w/ capers" booklet, and they decide that anything with capers in it tastes better without them.

ChefNick said...

Yeah, gotta echo the "Beets! Ugh!" comment but only because they tortured them to death in British boarding school and then served their sorry dead asses to ME.

Still, I had a beet vinaigrette the other day (beet vinaigrette?!!) and it was quite agreeable. Who knows, maybe one day even rhubarb will join the beets on the rehab trail.

TootsNYC said...