Beets – delicious from tip to tip

I confess that until I was in my 30’s I had only ever consumed pickled beets – and while I liked them, I was missing out.  Those glorious blood red orbs have a distinctive but mild flavor that my child has always enjoyed.

I recently bought a set of 3 very large, gorgeous beets with greens and over the course of the next 4 days I used all but the very bottom root and the section where the greens emerge and the skin is particularly thick.  I should have saved those for pink soup stock ;-)

I used the beets themselves for beet & avocado salad with goat cheese.  My 11 year old preferred the beets all by themselves.

I also used the beet greens in a lovely kale and cannelini beans dish from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

Several days later I chopped the beet stems I’d saved and sauteed them along with onions and spinach as a layer in Luscious Layers – my GF, easy lasagna-type-thang.  Nobody noticed or cared and we used up the whole beet and kaboodle.

First, I will tell you about the original plan for the beets : Beet and Avocado Salad

There are many variations of this combo on-line, all more complicated than the following.

Beets – enough for about 5 or 6 slices for each person
Avocado – enough for about 5 or 6 lices for each person
Goat cheese – mine was honey goat cheese from Trader Joe’s which is relatively cheap, a bit sweet and delicious
lemon juice and olive oil on hand for the drizzlers in the crowd.

Cover the topped/ bottomed beets with water, bring to a boil and then let simmer for 25 – 30 minutes or until the tenderness you desire.

Let them cool off a little and then they are very easy to peel.  The color underneath the skin at this point is unbelievably vibrant.  My slightly fuzzy pic gives you some idea of the color:

Aren’t they pretty?

Once the beets are cool and peeled, you can slice them and arrange the slices on each plate (or throw in a bowl if presentation ain’t in the stars when you make this)
Slice the avocado and lay on top of the beets
crumble a tablespoon or so of goat cheese on top of each one
If you like drizzle a little lemon juice and/or olive oil on top.  I though it was quite good all by itself.

My plate is bigger than my stomach!

The kale and cannelini beans involves boiling the greens which I’ve never done before.  Tenders the little fellows right up!

Boiling Beet Greens Batman!

You see the finished product on the plate with the beet salad.  My 11 year old also ate this without complaint…. I’m on a beet roll…

Last but not least – sauteed beet green stems with onions (to which I added spinach)

The stems have a beet-y flavor, but not overpowering at all.

And for the first time I made and used our good friend Somer’s cashew cheese which can slice and melt.  Wow!  Really delicious.  Somer has variations of this cheese, so if you need dairy free cheese, check out the above and her new blog Vedged Out where you can find her newest cheesy creations and lots of other great plant-based foods.  A warning – the cashew cheese is expensive to make, but for us it was quite a treat to have something creamy and cheesy.

beets? There’s no beets in there!

My other favorite way to eat beets is cut into chunks and roasted with sweet potatoes and yellow or red potatoes and some oil and seasoning.  FANTASTIC.

Little Sis and I have been known to throw raw beet into smoothies as well – makes a lovely pink smoothie!
Little Sis also shared a great Beet soup recipe, as well as Beet burgers.

Who new the much maligned could be something other than pickled?  Glad I know now.

What do you like to do with beets?

Beet Soup – Ruby Goodness

As a child I loved pickled beets.  Now I have moved away from childish things… actually I’ve just never purchased pickled beets as an adult and I always end up roasting any beets that I’ve managed to coax from the soil.  Beets are oh so companionably roasted with sweet potatoes and other little colorful potatoes.  Anyway, it was nice to expand the beet repertoire with this simple, easy and nourishing use of beets found at Health, Home & Happiness

Being rebels with poor planning skills, we ate this ‘Cold Beet Soup’ hot for dinner and then cold the next day.  I thought it was delicious both ways, and once again, my 11 year old gave a thumbs up to a food that I thought would be stretching the envelope of his tolerance.  Either he is growing so fast that he’s starving and will eat anything, or his palate is broadening with age.  Or maybe this stuff is just really yummy!!

And don’t throw the beet greens away!  I like to saute them (and anything else not tied down) in a little olive oil and garlic!  Or follow these directions or braising beet greens: http://ca.shine.yahoo.com/blogs/shine-food/cooking-beet-greens-155600995.html

Cold Beet Soup

4 medium beets, peeled and chopped (I peel the part of the beet that is hardened and dirty looking)
4 carrots, peeled and chopped (I am BiggSis and I never met a carrot that I wanted to peel)
3 cups stock, or more to thin the soup as desired
½ teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper -optional
¼ cup fresh dill, finely chopped -optional (I did not use dill)
2 cloves garlic – add more to taste
Cultured cream, to serve (I used goat cheese, and Little Sis came up with a vegan sour cream that would be great I think!)

Directions for cold beet soup:
Place the beets, carrots, and stock in a crock pot.

Cook on low 8 hours or high 4 hours, until the beets are soft. Add remaining ingredients and puree in a food processor or blender. Add more stock to thin as desired.

Ruby Soup – there’s no place like bowl… there’s no place like bowl….there’s no place like bowl

Chill well and serve topped with yogurt or cultured cream as desired.

Lunch the next day. How I love leftovers!

Enjoy my friends!  (And hey check out the picture of the food actually on the plate, semi-artfully arranged!  I must have not been starving that day.)

http://www.healthhomehappy.com/2011/07/cold-beet-soup.html

Pantry Fare

Real foods are the best foods.   Well… okay I’m gonna say it.  Real foods are the only foods.  The other things are chemicals and synthetics that we’ve been convinced will satisfy us.  So there.  Even in the real food category, however, some are better than others.  While we could get into a lengthy discussion of nutrition benefits, I have to admit that the real foods that earn my highest praise are often those that are not only nutritious, but the most versatile.  Versatile real foods allow the greatest number of variations without too much skill building and are real pantry boons (especially if they are CHEAP).

And so, I return joyfully to my previous post on recalibrating our grocery bill.  Things are going pretty well in this department, and the pantry is finally thinning enough that I can see what’s in there and what’s not.  I can also feel out what we actually NEED based on how many times I look for something that is already gone.  Granted, I am no longer prepared in the event of a nuclear disaster as I was prior to attempting to ease up on the grocery mania, but we still could eat for a while out of that pantry….  Based on my experiments this week, I WILL make sure that I’m always stocked with bulgur and lentils.  I’ve continued playing with the lentil-bulgur mix and I’ve discovered a home run that is kid approved (yes, even the picky one).  It is also one of those lovely recipes that provides lots of opportunity for the less mature members of the family to participate in the cooking (I am talking about my children here, in case you were wondering if that was a jab at my wonderful and very mature husband).  I give you Mini Neatloaves. (Applause)

Mini Neatloaves – Served our family of 4 two dinners with 2 adult lunches left. Inspired by Confetti Mini-Meatloaf on Spark Recipes

  • 4c lentil-bulgur mix
  • 3c rolled oats
  • 1 med onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2/3c mushrooms ( I used reconstituted dried)
  • 2/3 c diced tomatoes (or tomato sauce – we had leftover pasta sauce to use up)
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 2 eggs (I used flax)
  • 1 t mustard powder
  • 2 t marjoram
  • 1T creaminess (milk, mayo, yogurt… whatever.. I needed this because I mixed in the remainder of the leftover lentil-bulgur taco mix and it needed some mellowing)
  • 3T Braggs or soy sauce

Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly oil two muffin tins – you can also use a loaf pan, but I’m just gonna tell you that’s not as fun.  If you’re making flax eggs, prepare them first so they have time to set up.  Put lentil-bulgur mix and oats in large bowl.  Put veggies in food processor and process until they are no longer distinguishable as individual bits to your pickiest eater (you may not need to be quite as thorough as I was on this front).  Add veggie slush to bowl.  Add spices and flax eggs and mix.  I added about of cup of leftover peas that were in my fridge.  (My two still love measuring so they helped a lot on this part).  Mix until well combined.

Recruit volunteers to fill muffin tins with neat loaf mix.  Bake in oven for about 25-30 minutes (Watch closely as we had little people crises and I’m not sure I got the time exactly right.)  If you make a loaf, you will need to cook it longer.  If you make one enormous meatball, you’d better make a lot of spaghetti.

I served ours on a bed of orzo (insurance), beet salad with orange dressing, and cucumber slices.  We got 100% approval rating and all parties ate more neat loaves than orzo.  The  younger crowd enjoyed theirs with a little ketchup (don’t judge).  Most everyone enjoyed the beets as well (she just doesn’t like beets, even with orange juice in the picture).

Absolutely delish.  Oh, and if you’re wondering about the dressing, it was simply an attempt to get my daughter to eat beets.  3T orange juice, 1T olive oil, small squeeze honey, pinch salt.  While it didn’t change my daughter’s mind about the beautiful beets that we grew and that she helped harvest from the garden, the rest of us enjoyed it, and found it especially yummy when it slid from our beets into our orzo and onto our cucumber slices.  Summer is fabulous. Hope yours is delish as well.