When I was a child I couldn’t stand the thought of putting a beet into my mouth. My mother usually fed them to me “warmed” up from a can or pickled from a jar and I couldn’t stand the texture of this root vegetable. The deep redness of the garden variety beet was another turn off because The rich color of the vegetable was too much like the blood I’d just seen on Saturday Night Creep Shows, with Vincent Price on television. So beets were perhaps the one vegetable that made me run for cover.
As I grew older I became much more adventurous and courageous with my food. I began to give all the scary fruits, vegetables and exotic dishes a try and the simple everyday beet became a favorite.
I’m also a great lover of history. I discovered that the cultivation of the beet stretched back to the second millennium BC and was domesticated somewhere along the Mediterranean. It later spread to Babylonia in 8th century BC and far east China in 850 AD and grows in abundance today in Montana USA where I live. Since the plant has come a long way and since it grows so easily in a garden I felt it was a good idea to give the vegetable another look. I realized it’s a very loving plant because it offers itself whole, a person can eat the whole thing, leaves, root and all. The vegetable also contains folic acid, phosphorus, sodium, magnesium, calcium,iron, and potassium, fiber, vitamins A and C, niacin, and biotin. All these benefits made this enduring yet unpopular vegetable an ideal super food. It was eaten by the Roman gladiators and was known to generate great strength and power. So it was worth giving it another try and growing it in my garden and feeding it to my family.
There are of course many ways to cook or prepare a beet, it can even be eaten whole, but here is one of my favorite beet recipes that is sure to please.
Roasted beets with a side of beet greens w/feta
- 1 bunch beets with greens (2 or 3 per bunch is good)
- 2 or 3 large carrots (cut into wedges)
- 1/4 cup olive oil, divided (two 1/8th cups)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons chopped onion
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- Feta cheese (can be optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (175 degrees C). Wash the beets and carrots thoroughly, leaving the skins on, and remove the greens off beets. Rinse greens, removing any large stems, and set aside. Place the beets and carrots in a small baking dish or roasting pan, and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. If you wish to peel the beets, it is easier to do so once roasted.
2. Cover, and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until a knife can slide easily through the largest beet.
3. When the roasted beets and carrots are almost done, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and onion, and cook for a minute. Tear the beet greens into 2 to 3 inch pieces, and add them to the skillet (do not use stems just greens, the stems can be bitter). Cook and stir until greens are wilted and tender. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the greens as is, and the roasted beets with carrots sliced with either red-wine vinegar, or butter and salt and pepper. Sprinkle the top with feta cheese.
You can also use lemon, balsamic vinaigrette or your own favorite vinaigrette