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Give Beets A Chance

12 Dec

Let’s talk about beets.

They look, and feel, like rocks.

Empire State Building, early winter

And then you cook them. Then the beets lose their rockness and become yielding and silky and aromatic and sweet.

Beets are, of course, essential in making the soup of the moment, Christmas Borscht, but they also lend themselves to an incredibly diverse array of dishes from around the world.

There’s beet pasta, pickled red beet eggs, roasted beets, and squorscht, and that’s just from my site. When you look around the interweb you’ll find beets with horseradish and capers, summer borscht and grated beets with tahini, Pille’s pesto & beetroot appreciation society, red beet mash, celery root soup with pickled beets, beetroot latkes, bulgur risotto with beets, gluten-free beet focaccia, and yes, finally chocolate cake with beets.

Whew!

Union Square Sunset

Many claim to revile beets, which may be fair, especially if the only beet they’ve ever had came from a can, not the ground. All I am saying… Is give beets a chance!

One of the most classic ways to eat roasted beets is on a salad with blue/goat/feta cheese, and/or walnuts, and/or segments of citrus fruit. It crops up on nearly every menu in the city, but the problem is, the salad is rarely well executed. When I’m brave or bored enough with the other appetizer offerings to order the beet salad, I’m usually disappointed. The beets are watery, the cheese isn’t forceful enough, the walnuts aren’t toasted, the dressing is bland.

Last week when Isaac was preparing to hit the Dag Hammarskjold greenmarket I asked him to poke around and buy some beets. I was going to take things into my own hands. I roasted the beets and then concocted a perfectly silly, completely over-fussed with salad of epic proportions.

It’s like a garbage plate, but better for you.

Ann's Beet Salad

This salad is great, and it’s pretty and fancy enough to serve to company over the holidays. It’s perfectly seasonal and delicious, but I must warn you on one thing. The walnuts. Oh my god, the walnuts! I hate walnuts. Hate. But for some reason I felt they were absolutely essential to this recipe, and I was right.

But here’s the thing. Eat them all or get them out of your house fast because they are so addictive. I ended up bringing them to a friend who is a bit of a beer nerd. We figured they’d make an exceptional beer snack.

Spicy-Sweet Walnut Brittle

Beets suffer from bad P.R. They’re pigeonholed. Beets are for salads and borscht and pickles. But you and I? We know this isn’t true. So go on, show me your best beet recipe!

Leave a link in the comments. It can be yours or one you’ve found on a recipe site. This is our chance to spread the word. Give beets a chance!

Head below the jump for the recipe for Ann’s Beet Salad.

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