July 23, 2008
Lately, I’ve taken up the cause of the humble beet. For many people, beets are right up there with head cheese, blood sausage and other culinary unmentionables. Not so long ago, I was among these people. But then—oh, then—I saw the light. All it took was giving the beet a wee little chance and I fell in love. I’ve joined the flock of those who know that beets are earthy and dense and sweet, not to mention beautiful.
So, I’ve been trying to spread the news: the beet is your friend. Call it beet evangelism. My strategy has been multi-pronged. First, there’s some damage control. I assure my target that fresh beets, cooked gently in a shallow pool of water, bear no resemblance to the jiggly canned rounds we all know from salad bars gone by. When this doesn’t work, I appeal to aesthetics: beets come in a spectrum of deep jewel tones and their centers are ringed like the inside of an old oak tree. When I’ve struck out on these two fronts, I pull out my secret weapon: cheese. Preferably feta, but goat will do in a pinch.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the method.)
So far, the results of this brilliant proselytizing have been less than successful. As in, I’ve had zero converts. Even right here at home, Kevin won’t budge. No matter, though. It just means more beets for me. My recent preparation for beets is less than revolutionary, but I’m feeling a little short on creativity these days (no room for creativity when there is a bar exam looming). I’ve been combining the beets (whatever color strikes your fancy at the market) with feta or goat cheese; baby spinach or arugula; a few shreds of fresh basil; thinly sliced radishes or baby turnips; and a sprinkling of toasted nuts. Top it all off with a drizzle of fruity olive oil, a vinegar of your choice (I’ve been going with champagne vinegar) and a dusting of sea salt and fresh-cracked black pepper, and you’ve got yourself lunch. Or dinner. For one.