>> Wednesday, July 20, 2011
The best thing about summertime (aside from the great weather) is all the different fruits and vegetables that are in season. I can literally eat nothing else but melons, stone fruits to corn and sweet peppers. Although most of these items can be found everyday in a typical grocery store, nothing beats picking up fresh locally grown veggies at your farmers market.
One of my favourite is beets and when I see them at the market, I almost always bring them home with me. Their bright color always looks great in a summer salad or even roasted on the grill and used as a side. Makes sense why beets are now being featured on many restaurant menus around town. Although you can find beets all throughout the year and usually in the fall, summertime is when you will start to find the different colored and smaller varieties, ranging from bright yellow to deep purple.
When selecting for beets, remember to look for smooth, spotless globes ranging from small to medium sizes. This will provide you with a sweeter and better textured variety (the larger ones tend to be a bit more fibrous). Also, remember to look at the stems and leaves, otherwise known at beet greens, they should be a green and not wilted or yellow. Once you bring them home remember to store them in the fridge so they have the longest shelf life.
Nutritional Tidbit: The deep colors of purple beets provide a rich source of antioxidants and beets are known for their folate. Folate or folic acid is a B vitamin essential in the synthesis of DNA, especially important during cell division and growth. Therefore it is vital for pregnant women. Both children and normal adults also require folate to ensure proper healthy red blood cell production.
There are many different applications for beets, you can simply roast them and create a nice light beet and arugula salad topped with some goat cheese. Simply sauté them with a little salt and pepper or a balsamic glaze, which makes a great side to any summertime menu. Or pickle them, which really showcase the sweetness of the beets by contrasting it with the tangy sourness of the pickling liquid.
Normal pickling recipes take a bit of time before you can actually enjoy the fruits of your labour. Although they’re well worth it, I usually like to eat what I cook straight away (even waiting for a pie to cool is difficult at times). I was lucky enough to find a pickling recipe that only required a 30 minute wait time before I was able to fully enjoy the beets and figured that it was too good not to share. I’ve adapted the recipe to lower the amount of acid used originally because both my husband and I found it to be a little too sour and it overwhelmed the natural sweetness of the beets. The best part is, you can even use these beets in a salad after they’ve been pickled!
Method courtesy of Simply Recipes found here.
Ingredients:4 to 5 small to medium sized beets
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
1/8 cup water
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp dry mustard
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350ºF
Wash and wrap each beet in foil. Place them in the oven and roast for roughly an hour. You’ll know the beets are done when a fork can be easily inserted. ( I like cooking the beets this way the best because you don’t lose any of the natural sweetness of them).
Peel each of the beets, they should easily slip off at this point.
Cube or slice the beets in to equal sizes, let them cool off a bit.
Mix the dressing, apple cider vinegar, water, sugar, olive oil, dry mustard, salt and pepper (to taste) in a bowl. Add in the beets and let it all marinate for at least 30 minutes at room temperature.
You can also make this a day in advance and let the beets sit in the vinaigrette overnight. This recipe keeps for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.