Beets for dessert?!
Even though I have not been buying much produce lately, our fridge was starting to seem uncomfortably full. Friends who left on vacation told us to pick up their CSA box, I was the willing recipient of gifted veggies from farmers who brought too much to market, and my back porch herb garden is overflowing. I have a lot of guilt about wasting produce so I decided not to wait another day to eat some of this bounty.
What I created was an unexpected treat. I will preface this by saying this is for beet lovers only but I will add that if you try this, you might find you are a beet lover after all.
My favorite way to prepare beets is to roast them. Boiling only seems to dilute the flavors, while roasting makes them more intense. Put your unpeeled beets in an glass baking dish with a little water, oil, salt, a few bay leaves and a sprinkle of black peppercorns. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees until they are easily pierced with a fork. This could take up to an hour if you beets are big. Let them cool and their skins should slide right off. Be careful not to get any juices on you or your countertop You are now ready to use your beets in all manner of dishes.
Yesterday, I was in a hurry to make dinner and short on ingredients so I used whatever I had on hand. Luckily, I have a well-stocked pantry. I chopped the beets in bite-sized chunks,added a splash of cassis vinegar, clementine olive oil, a drizzle of honey, salt and pepper and topped it with tiny lemon verbena leaves. Oh, and while I was out picking those, I noticed that my gooseberries were ripe and since they are similar in color to the beets and I was creating a kind of fruity salad, I threw those in too. Trust me, I was a little skeptical about the results. It could have been really weird with all those different flavors. I was pleasantly surprised. It seemed more like a dessert fruit salad than anything but that's okay. I figure we are supposed to eat so many fruits and veggies that the more courses we include them in the better right?
You may not have these exact ingredients lying around and although this salad was delicious, I wouldn't necessarily recommend that you go out and buy them to make it. I would encourage you to play with your food though. Try new things. Be bold in the kitchen. The worst that could happen is that you spit something out and you never have to try it again.
I was inspired to share this after months of ignoring my blog because I was so surprised and delighted by these new flavor combinations. I have recently started selling preserves at a local farmers' market and I give out samples. It is discouraging the number of people who will turn down a free taste because of an unfamiliar ingredient or one they haven't liked in the past.
"Passion fruit. What's that like?"
"Would you like a taste?"
It could be your new favorite thing but now you'll never know...