Golden Beets. Better Than Cabbage.

After tasting my first roasted golden beet, I began plumbing the depths of my brain to determine when it had been programmed that beets taste bad.  TV?  Movies?  My parents?  Is it instinct?  Maybe a hypothalamic beet reflex, so that when the word ‘beet’ is heard an automatic ‘YUCK!’ is released in return? 

Nowadays, a beet makes us think of the beet root, the bulbous below-ground part of the beet plant.  Beets were eaten mainly for their greens thousands of years ago in the Mediterranean region, the root only becoming of interest in the second and third centuries.  A notation in a Roman recipe stated, “better than cabbage.”  Not a huge endorsement.

The first time I saw a beet, I was flushed with freedom of choice at a make-your-own salad bar.  Metal tongs in hand, I passed right by the pasty cauliflower and dried out broccoli.  Mini-corn cobs? Freaky, but cool.  Hard boiled eggs? Definitely.  Cottage cheese? Pile it on.  And what are these pink things?  They were pretty.  I dappled my creation with a splash of color to round things out.  And they were good.

I didn’t see them again until many years later at my Mother-in Law’s.  So much time had passed since my first encounter, I began to wonder if eating pickled beets at the salad bar was actually a figment of my imagination.  Did I really eat beets?  And like them?  After helping my mother-in-law pickle a batch, I understood WHY I liked them.  Sugar, and lot’s of it, added during the pickling process.

After learning about my veggie blog, a friend I would have never expected to be a beet person on first impression, asked me if I’d ever tried roasted beets.  Nope, never heard of ‘em.  But then, like it always happens when you’ve never heard of something one minute, and the next minute you see it everywhere – I started noticing roasted beets on menus around the city.  Finally, I ordered a salad with roasted beets, and decided they tasted almost as sweet as the pickled version, which seemed impossible.  But apparently roasting caramelizes the natural sugars in beets, making them sweet.

So, I was ready to try it myself.  Thanks to a good tip in The Farm to Table Cookbook, I started with golden beets.  They have a milder, less earthy flavor than red beets, and they’re a lot less messy.  Red beet juice stains almost everything it comes into contact with if you don’t act fast.

Pick ones with greens attached to ensure freshness.  Though beets do store well.  Berry Patch Farms has been bringing red beets to the Denver Indoor Farmers’ Market that were harvested earlier in the season.  Smaller beets tend to be sweeter. 

Remove the greens and wash the beets.  Reserve the greens and pretend your going to use them for something else, instead of let them wilt in your refridgerator until you finally pitch them.

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Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and  roast at 400 degrees.  Start with 40 minutes, then test with a knife to see if their soft all the way through.  Keep roasting if you need to.  Here they are just out of the oven.

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I made a golden beet salad with blue cheese and walnut vinagrette – from The Farm to Table Cookbook.  A good way to introduce beets to your life.  The golden beets were less menacing looking than the dark red beets, with almost the flavor of a sweet potato.  

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This got a “$6.00 salad” rating from my husband.  Definitely much better than cabbage!

 

Want more veggies?  New veggie stories on Thursday’s.  Check out last week’s veggie: Vegetable Dessert: Real Pumpkin Pie

Want more market photos?  New photos on Monday’s.  Check out the last Monday Dose of Market: Pumpkin Pie Results and More from the Denver Indoor Farmers’ Market.

New to The Weekly Veggie?  Read how it all began with My Childhood Vegetable Nemesis.

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