The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks, mom!
January’s birthstone is the garnet, the dark and sultry common cousin to the ruby. My parents gave me a garnet ring for my 16th birthday as a symbol of my birth month. The deep red stone looks black until held up to the light when it transforms into a glowing bright red. I wore that ring every day until my mid twenties. It was magical, as if it held a secret only for me, hidden inside its ordinary visage. I thought of the ring the other day when I was cutting up beets for one of my favorite recipes.
Beets are like garnets, ordinary and dark at first glance. But as soon as they are pierced, they explode with color, bleeding a brilliant magenta that is so magical, it isn’t even found in the rainbow. And when cooked, there is nothing more delicious and out of the ordinary.
When they are done, the skin comes right off and you can slice them easily. (If stains on your fingers bother you, wear gloves). Simply drizzle the sliced beets with oil and vinegar (I like balsamic), and sprinkle with salt and pepper or you can add herbs or soft cheese such as goat or gorgonzola. I like cooking the beet greens in a little garlic and oil and laying the sliced beets on top of the greens, then adding the toppings. This utilizes all parts of the beets, and beet greens are delicious and very nutritious.
1 or 2 bunches of beets
1 tsp caraway seeds
good quality olive oil
good quality balsamic vinegar
fresh chopped parsley, dill or tarragon.
Goat cheese, gorgonzola, feta and/or walnuts
Cut beet leaves off of beets, leaving a couple of inches of stems. Lay beets in aluminum foil and cover tightly.
Roast on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for 45-75 minutes or until tender (depending on size of beets). You can pierce the beets with a skewer to make sure they are tender.
Let cool slightly and then peel with your fingers.
Slice the beets and spread on a platter. Drizzle with oil and vinegar, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and add whatever other toppings you want. Suggestions: chopped garlic, fresh dill, tarragon or parsley. Crumbled goat cheese, feta cheese, or gorgonzola and chopped toasted walnuts.
For roasted beets and beet greens:
Tear beet greens into 2 inch pieces. Sauté 2 minced garlic cloves in 2 tablespoons of oil for about a minute.
Then add greens and cook until wilted and tender.
Lay greens on a platter and cover with sliced beets. Drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve this way or add suggested toppings above.
My other favorite use for beets is for borscht. I make this soup at least twice a month in the winter. The perfect balance of salt, sweet, and sour makes this soup addictive. Almost the way ketchup is. I modified the recipe from the original Moosewood Cookbook. Serve with a hearty loaf of bread for a perfect winter’s meal:
Russian Cabbage Borscht
2 T butter or olive oil
1 chopped onion
1 ½ cups thinly sliced potato
3 large beets, thinly sliced
1 large sliced carrot
1 stalk chopped celery
½ cabbage, chopped
6 cups vegetable stock (more if needed)
salt to taste
½ tsp dill weed or 1 T fresh dill
2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbs. honey
1 cup tomato puree
Toppings: sour cream and dill
Place potatoes, beets, and stock in a soup pot. Bring to a boil. Meanwhile, cook onions in butter or oil with caraway seeds and salt. Cook until onion is translucent. When done, add to beets with all remaining ingredients. Bring back to a boil and then cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes or until all vegetables are tender and soup is flavorful. (Add more veggie stock if needed). Taste to correct seasonings. It should be balanced between sweet, sour, and salty. You can add more vinegar, salt, or honey as needed. Add more veggie stock if needed. Serve with sour cream and dill:
(ED: If you have left over soup, you might have to add more vegetable stock the next day.)
If you have fussy eaters in your family, try pureeing the soup in a blender (with or without some sour cream) and serve it as “Pink Soup.” This makes the soup a fun and whimsical adventure and the vegetables are unrecognizable:
(You can serve hot or cold.)
Note: I just talked to my son, David, who told me he recently made beet tzatziki and it was delicious. Here is a recipe for it in case you want to try.
Happy New Year!