The Whole Beet

I’m a huge beet fan - and whether at the grocery store or the farmer’s market, the nicest, freshest looking beets always come with their tops attached. For a long time, I was stymied by the tops and how to use them. I would remove them as soon as I got the beets home, as you’re supposed to do with carrots and other root veggies, to keep the juices in the roots, and cook the beets, while the greens would rapidly wilt in my fridge until I woefully composted them a few days later.

Until, that is, I found the simplest way to cook the whole beet - tops and bottoms into one delicious dish. I make this several times a month, and throughout most of the year - lucky me, beets are available to me locally year round. At this time of year, this is a wonderful, solid veggie dish that can be eaten warm, cold or at room temperature. Check out my recent blog post for more hot weather veggie dishes.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, as in Ayurveda and other traditional systems, foods and herbs are all part of the same system, which understands the many subtle influences of substances on the body, and uses them to correct dis-ease and imbalances. Beets are cool and sweet energetically, nourishing the blood, benefiting the liver and calming the spirit, making them a wonderful food for all times of year, but especially if we’re feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and overheated. The golden beets are lighter than the red ones, and make a nice change (they also don’t stain your fingers, countertop and cutting board!)

Beets & Greens in Vinaigrette

(adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian )

measurements are all approximate - this is a very forgiving recipe!

  • 1-2 bunches of beets with their greens (about 4-6 medium sized beets)
  • 1-2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 2-3 tablespoons good quality vinegar (balsamic, white balsamic, red or white wine vinegar, or even apple cider vinegar)
  • ¼ - ½ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Remove the tops from the beets, and give the roots a rinse and quick scrub if they have visible dirt or chunks of soil. Add them whole to the boiling water and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until a knife inserted into the beet sinks in easily. (In the wintertime I will often roast the beets, wrapping them in foil and roasting at 400F for 30-40 minutes). While the roots are cooking, carefully wash the tops - you don’t want any grit between your teeth! There’s no need to dry them.

When the roots are cooked, drain and let cool. Rinse out the pot (carefully - the beets may have left dirt!), refill and bring to  boil. Add the greens and cook for 5 minutes, until tender. Drain and set aside. When the roots are cool enough to handle, slip them out of their skins. A knife is handy to slice the end off, where the tops were attached. Dice or cut into quarter moons.

Make the vinaigrette - I usually do this right in the bowl I plan to store or serve the beets in. Place the mustard in the bottom of the bowl, and add the vinegar. Using a whisk (this the THE secret to creamy, delicious French style vinaigrette!), beat the mustard and the vinegar together. Drizzle in the oil while whisking, until you have creamy, tangy, emulsified, glorious deliciousness. You can taste and adjust by adding a little more oil or vinegar if you like. Add the beets and greens and toss - best done when the veggies are still warm from cooking. You can serve right away, but they benefit from sitting for a few hours to let the dressing soak into the veg.

This will keep for quite a few days in the fridge, and can be eaten as a veggie side or served on top of a green salad.

A votre santé!

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