The Magic of Beets

 

One of my earliest memories is eating beats with my mom. She found it profound that such a young child could love something so unconventional. Still to this day they are one of my favorite treats. Beets, according to whfoods.org  are  a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains. Betanin and vulgaxanthin are the two best-studied betalains from beets, and both have been shown to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support. The detox support provided by betalains includes support of some especially important Phase 2 detox steps involving glutathione. Although you can see these betalain pigments in other foods (like the stems of chard or rhubarb), the concentration of betalains in the peel and flesh of beets gives you an unexpectedly great opportunity for these health benefits.”

The beet is a greatly misunderstood root and often people who enjoy them are afraid to try cooking them.  Fortunately, there are several methods to finding the joy of these healty and favorable vegetable.  Below are the four tried and true methods best recommended by Martha Stewart.

QUICK-PREP, SLOW-ROAST METHOD

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, toss beets with oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover dish tightly with foil; roast until tender when pierced with a knife, 45 to 60 minutes, depending on size. When cool enough to handle, rub with a paper towel to remove skins.

PRECUT, FAST-ROAST METHOD

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place beets (peeled and cut into 1/2-inch wedges) on a large piece of foil on a baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Fold foil around beets and crimp ends to form a packet. Roast until beets are tender when pierced with a knife, 25 to 30 minutes.

STEAMED METHOD

Set a steamer basket in a saucepan with 2 inches simmering water. Add beets (peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces). Cover and steam until beets are tender when pierced with a knife, 15 to 20 minutes.

BOILED METHOD

Place beets (peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces) in a large potof boiling salted water. Reduce    heat to a simmer and cook until beets are tender when pierced with a knife, 15 to 20 minutes; drain

My preferred way of eating beets is in a salad. There is something so fresh, so inviting about them. The color lets us know we are doing something good for our bodies and our soul.  Invite a friend around and try out this recipe on a beautiful spring day. You won’t regret it.

Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese, Walnuts & Honey-Dijon Vinaigrette

Ingredients

For the Beets

  • 1 bunch medium beets (about 3)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

For the Salad

  • 10 ounces mixed greens (I like a blend of frisée, radicchio and mesclun)
  • 3 ounces goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

For the Vinaigrette

  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, best quality such as Pompeian Gourmet
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil

Instructions

For the Beets

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.  Wipe or scrub beets clean then trim stems down to one-inch (leave “tails” on). Place beets on a large piece of foil; drizzle with olive oil, then wrap foil around them to form a neat packet. Roast directly on rack in middle of oven until tender, about 1 hour. Test for doneness by piercing the largest beet with a knife. If it enters easily, it’s done. Unwrap beets and let sit until cool enough to handle. Use your hands or a paring knife to peel skin, then cut into ½-inch dice (I usually do this right on the aluminum foil but you can also use a stain-proof cutting board or plate). Set aside.

For the Vinaigrette

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, shallots, salt and pepper. Whisking constantly, slowly add the oil in a steady stream. (Alternatively, add all your ingredients to a jar, cover with lid, and shake vigorously to blend.) Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

For the Salad

  1. Place the greens in a large bowl, drizzle with about half of the vinaigrette and toss to combine. Add as much of the remaining vinaigrette as desired and toss again. Divide greens onto plates, then sprinkle with beets, walnuts and goat cheese. (The reason you don’t just mix it all together in a salad bowl is that the beets would cause the whole salad to turn pink.) Serve immediately.

Recipe by Jennifer Segal

Photo courtesy of www.vegankitchen.com

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