Beets Me

This post is for my mother.

All my life I hated beets.  My mother loved them and tried her darndest to get me to eat them.  Because I wanted to please her and because I also had a pretty adventurous palate even for a kid, I tried.  Tried them cold, hot, pickled, canned, jarred, hot with butter, you name it.  To me, they simply tasted like dirt. Not that I ate a lot of dirt as a kid, but we’ve all had enough dirt in our mouths at one point or another to know what it tastes like.  The equation was simple; beets = dirt = no thanks.  After a while, I told my mother I had done my best.  Beets were simply not for me.

Then I became a gardener.  The first year we grew beets, we managed to get a few that were just the right “baby beet” size.  By then I’d become a devotee of the Food Network and was trying my hand at different things.  One afternoon, nothing would satisfy me but a salad with home grown lettuce, crisp fresh cukes,  tomatoes right off the vine and baby beets, lightly steamed:

Even a couple of years later, I can remember how fresh, light and crisp, earthy and substantial that salad was.  Suddenly, the “dirt” taste of the beets had changed.  It became “earthy” and therefore, sexy and sensual.  That year, we also grew golden beets and from then on I was hooked.  Golden beets are much milder than the red kind.  They have the beet texture, but in taste they almost lean more towards a yam.  They are especially wonderful grilled or roasted. I also love beet greens mixed in with chard or kale or all three for a wonderful “mess” of mixed greens. The lowly beet has become a versatile member of our garden regulars.

The last couple of years, we haven’t done so well with the beets.  We didn’t plant many this year, but the few we have are doing well.  Today, G pulled just a few and I decided to wing it:

One of the things I love best about growing your on veggies is all the fun and funky shapes you get out of the ground or off the vine.  Symmetry is for assembly line farming; a garden gives you the real shape of things.  After trimming off the greens, I steamed the beets till just tender then dunked them into an ice water bath to cool.  After that, the skins simply slid off with a little rubbing.  I sliced them along with some red onion, and drizzled them with the magic substances below:

The rich orange infusion of the oil plays perfectly off the earthy taste of the beets and gives a sweetness to the tart red onion.  Even though the beets are dark, a regular balsamic would make the whole thing “muddy” so the golden version is perfect.  After a grind of fresh pepper and coarse salt, I tossed in just a few cubes of feta cheese, and this is a beet dish that I could happily eat every day.  My mom would be so happy!

Do you have a veggie that you think you don’t like?  Try planting it and then try it.  I guarantee that even if you don’t fall in love with it, it will taste much better when it’s the fruit of your own labor!

Happy eating,

GG

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7 thoughts on “Beets Me

  1. What a great post, GG! I used to think beets were on my DO NOT EAT list too, having grown up with canned Harvard beets, which I could not abide. Then I tried making borscht from The Moosewood Cookbook in college, with fresh beets and that recipe (with a tinge of vinegar) turned my head around. Roasting is another great way to bring out the balance of sweet and earthy tastes from beets. I envy you the ones you pulled straight out of your garden!

    About the only produce dish I still haven’t come to terms with is applesauce. Smells great, and I love apples, I think my aversion is primarily a texture thing, so deeply rooted in childhood experience that applesauce gets my gag reflex going everytime. So I just try to work around it. I make an apple slaw that I adore, and there’s nothing like a good apple pie.

    I hope you continue to enjoy the fruits of your garden labors. Keep sharing the pics and recipe ideas! And yes, I think your mother would be proud 🙂

  2. I totally get the texture thing. It’s why I’m not a big custard, flan or meringue fan. I’m not a huge fan of applesauce either, but we make our own…G just bakes down a big roasting pan of apples and then adds her secret ingredient—red hot candies! I HATE those things plain, but melted in the apples they give exactly the right amount of sweet and cinnamon–and a lovely pink color, too! Who knew?

    You’re gonna LOVE my chocolate entry!!

    GG

  3. I love beets! Never thought of trying them with cheese… must do that. I agree that the greens are delish, though right now I’m on one of my periodic kale obsessions so I’m not really rational.

  4. Beets, meh. I can take them or leave them. I often feel that I *should* eat them since they are so darned good for you. I might try the golden ones, if I can find them. I get absolutely no buy in from T on beets, though. Not sure it’s worth it.

    I agree that everything you grow yourself tastes better. Our garden is rather sparse this year since the spring was so wet for so long. One vegetable that I absolutely can’t stand and will not grow is Lima beans. Yuk! Not too keen on Brussels sprouts either. I’m not sure that growing either of those would improve their flavor.

  5. @e–I LOVE lima beans, but don’t know if it’s worth trying to grow them to dry or freeze. I do use the fresh corn for succotash. Ummm, succotash…even the word is yummy. I like Brussels sprouts, too, but find them much better (sweeter) raw in crudites. They tend to get bitter if overcooked, though they, too are good roasted.

    My 2nd H could not even LOOK at lima beans. Oddly, my daughter loved them as a kid and still does. Taste is a funny thing sometimes. Do try the golden beets. Usually you can buy just 2 or 3 so you could have them yourself and not feel like you had to “share”. LOL

  6. Pingback: Growing Beets | Information Central

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