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Beets.

These blood-colored and highly staining vegetables have inspired curiosity and frustration in me for a couple of years now.

It started when our supper club hosted a root-vegetable-themed dinner last January.  I Googled tubers and investigated which to contribute. Eventually I went the direction of carrots and turnips in a soup, while my neighbor Amy made an ingenious Beet Ice Cream. A root-vegetable dessert! It was pink as any dream Valentine’s Day treat and as mildly dirt-flavored as only beets can be.

Later that season I made a beet soup that turned my microwave pink but did nothing to inspire my taste buds. Dirt flavor strikes again! I do like things earthy and, some would say, on the bland side, but these beets took the cake (mmm, cake).

However, beets have remained de rigueur in my foodie magazines, so I kept hope alive that I’d find the right recipe to throw beets inthe limelight (mmm, limes).

In Better Homes and Gardens‘ August 2012 issue, I found the one. Beet Blue Cheese and Almond Salad* included that coveted layer of flavors and textures, as well as my new true love, fresh parsley (why haven’t I grown you all my life?!)

My friend Susan had regaled me with her latest beet recipe the week before, so I decided to try this one for her birthday potluck, with beets I bought at the Market Square Farmers Market. What a winner! The beets are sweet and lose that garden soil aftertaste in a light bath of olive oil and lemon juice and salt and pepper. (I recommend you use olive oil you really like, as its flavor comes out strong around the beets.) The creamy/tangy blue cheese and crunchy toasted almonds add the perfect balance to the barely soft beets. I left out the garlic and used roughly chopped regular almonds.

I’m so pleased my diligence paid off and that I found a way to prepare beets that suits my tastes. I will continue to try more beet recipes (although they are more expensive than I expected for a root vegetable) throughout the winter. Maybe even a Borscht!

* I would’ve used the direct link to the Better Homes recipe, but the website user login was giving me fits. So there.

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