The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Lifestyles

July 24, 2013

Amanda Stone: Beets' earthy flavor can't be beat

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.

 

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