JOPLIN, Mo. —
The end is near for beet season. Rush to the farmers market and grab a bunch of the most beautiful, versatile root vegetables ever. They can be used for sweet and savory dishes, plus their rich, red color is great for using in natural dyes. They can't be beat, pun intended.
My love affair with beets began a few years ago when I roasted them along with my usual veggies. A dribble of olive oil and a dash of salt is all it took for me to be smitten. Since then, I've discovered that I love beets served any and every way. I planted them in my garden for the first time, and they've been a delight. I snip the vitamin-packed beet leaves a couple of times a week at the same time I harvest kale for making salads.
Beets clearly yearn to be loved, because they can be eaten pickled, roasted, sweetened or just plain raw. They're packed with vitamins and fiber and can be easily pureed and snuck into anything where their color can be disguised. I hear plenty of folks say they don't like beets. They say they're earthy, which is code for "they taste like dirt." I laugh in the face of this challenge.
Sneaking healthy food into a meal traditionally thought of as indulgent is how I get my kicks. Beets ease into chocolate just as easily as butternut squash disappears in macaroni and cheese. Make beet puree by trimming off the stems and roasting them whole. Wrap a bunch in aluminum foil and roast at 400 degrees for about an hour. Peel, puree and add a healthy, rosy hue to nearly anything. Ice cream and yogurt swirled with pureed beets is pretty, pink and irresistible. Even raw, shredded beets go virtually unnoticed in a salad when there are lots of other add-ins. They can easily be just another color in the rainbow of your meal.
Beets leave a vibrant pink stain on everything they touch. Put a positive spin on this by wearing your play clothes and using beets as natural dyes. Boil or pickle some beets to eat, then use the bright red water to soak cotton clothes or yarn. After they dry, they'll be a lovely shade of pink.
You can even use ground, dried slices of beets to make the perfect rosy shade of blush. I love a food that can multitask.
If you think you and yours don't like beets, you should probably give them another try. These recipes make it easy.
Chocolate beet cakes for two
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup white whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon dark cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon maple syrup
4 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup beet puree
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350. Spray two 5-ounce ramekins with canola spray. Set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients together. In a small bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and whisk until combined. Evenly pour the batter into your two ramekins and set on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl for 15 seconds at a time until melted. Drizzle the melted chocolate onto the cakes and serve.
Adapted from chocolateandcarrots.com
Grilled beets with goat cheese and cilantro quinoa
3 to 4 beets, sliced
Goat cheese (put a bit of cheese on beet slice the last few minutes of grilling)
2 cups cooked quinoa
Large handful of chopped cilantro
Small handful of chopped chives
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper
Toss beets in olive oil and place on heated grill. Grill on medium to low heat for 8 to 10 minutes on each side. Toss cooked quinoa with cilantro, chives, lime juice and salt and pepper, to taste. Top quinoa mixture with grilled beets.
Adapted from inthelittleredhouse.blogspot.com
Beet cheek and lip stain
One or two beets, chopped
3 tablespoons vegetable glycerin (found at craft stores and health food stores)
Small jar or container with tight fitting lid
Add beets and glycerin to a double boiler over simmering water. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain the liquid into a jar to cool completely. Discard the beet chunks. Use your finger to apply stain to cheeks and lips. Apply 2 or 3 times for more vibrant color. Store in the fridge to maximize its shelf life.
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