Beet Evangelism

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.


15 Responses to “Beet Evangelism”

  1. eggsonsunday Says:

    Oh Kristin, glad to see you’ve jumped on the beet bandwagon! I just love ’em. Like you, salads with goat cheese, nuts, and a peppery green are one of my favorite ways to eat them; sometimes we cut them into wedges and roast them, which adds a nice caramelized aspect. Mmm. – Amy

  2. brenna d Says:

    There is a restaurant here in Houston that serves them roasted with Morcilla (blood sausage) and goat cheese. It’s all hot and it is seriously one of the most amazing tapas I have ever had. My husband even ate it, and loved it. Just an idea.

    Good luck on the bar exam, by the way. I’ll take mine next summer. I commend you on still posting everyday; I’m sure my days will be spent studying and crying in fear.

  3. Andrea Says:

    You forgot one other argument point, nutrition! They ahve folic acid , potassium, calcium and antioxidants. Plus the top greens have vitamins as well and can be cooked like any other green.

    Plus they just taste good. I keep meaning to try roasting them.

  4. Chris Says:

    Kristin — You also may enjoy this roasted beet salad with orange and cumin… it convinced my wife, who had been a red-beet-hater…

  5. I must admit I’m not a beet convert yet and have not accepted the good news of the beet. The beet is just so alien to us: we have never cooked with it and I don’t think I’ve had a beet ever growing up. Beets are everywhere: they’re cheap and they’re nutritious, so maybe it’s time to give the beet a chance?

  6. Maria Says:

    I love beets! They are so colorful and tasty!! I like the greens too!

  7. JanScholl Says:

    Beets are so yum. But very expensive here in Michigan fresh-3 small ones in a bunch were two dollars or more. I wish the orange ones could come canned because that would still be good too. Drained and chopped in a salad. Double yum.

  8. Mary Coleman Says:

    I’ve got some golden beets sitting in the fridge right now having promised myself i would do something like this salad to change my opinion.
    Great blog, by the way!

  9. Amy: Oooh, the roasting sounds too good. I’m going to try that the next time I shoo Kevin out.

    Brenna: I hope you’re enjoying your 2L summer! Honestly, I think continuing the cooking & posting has kept me sane during the bar prep.

    Andrea: Shhh, don’t tell! Kidding of course.

    Chris: That beet salad looks delicious. I like the citrus vinaigrette. Yum.

    js: See the light! It’s time to try the beet.

    Maria: Amen.

    JanScholl: That’s about the price at our farmers’ markets too. But considering that you can eat the greens too, it doesn’t seem quite so bad. Kind of a two-fer …

    Mary: Thanks! I am excited for you and your upcoming golden beets encounter. I hope you enjoy!

  10. nicole Says:

    This looks … gorgeous! I love beets. Will have to try this soon. (ps: good luck w/ the bar!!)

  11. Joan Says:

    I live in western NY and got some candy cane beets shipped in from California for a party I catered. The recipe was a cold beet salad with roasted beets, orange segments, watercress and blue cheese. I was excited to get the striped beets but when the beets were raw they were a great light red color with nice white rings, after I roasted them the red and white almost disapeared. Some of them were a golden color. I have never used these before so I didn’t know why the stripse disapeared???? Anyway… the salad was a hit.

  12. nicole: thanks!

    Joan: Interesting. According to this site, if you cook them whole they won’t bleed. But you could also slice them paper thin and keep them raw and crunchy in a salad. Glad the salad was a hit, but I bet you were sad to lose the color.

  13. Amy Says:

    Oh I LOVE beets. I have some growing in my garden right now. I know some people think I’m crazy – but I love pickled beets. My grandma used to make them and they were so tasty….

    Love your site. I stumbled upon it and really enjoy your photos. I love food and recipes, I read cook’s illustrated before I go to bed at night! It’s like my late-night virtual snack.

  14. Paula Says:

    Beet Evangelism … I believe!!! This looks terrific! Yum!

  15. Amy: I’d like to try pickled beets. I don’t think you’re crazy at all. Thanks for your note!

    Paula: Welcome to the dark side.

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