Growing up in Pittsburgh in the early 70’s I remember my mother always having canned goods in the house. The Green Giant variety seems to be my main recollection; corn, peas, green beans and beets. It’s funny to think about that now, because in our house the only two canned vegetables I keep in my pantry are tomatoes for sauce and beans for salads. I will say that I generally enjoy making beans from scratch, as they are really not hard to make - only requiring a little planning on my part to soak over night; but in a pinch, for a quick dish, you can’t go wrong with having ceci, cannellini or even black beans handy.
I remember my mother always saying my Dad liked beets (and still does) and she would make them, using the canned variety of course, with sliced onions and olive oil. I honestly have no real food memory of eating them as a little kid, strange to say, but I’m sure I did. I think the first time I had a fresh beets was many years later, buying them at Fairway in New York City, near my first apartment building on the Upper West Side. After a quick perusal of my Better Homes and Garden cookbook (the only one I had back then) I boiled, peeled and sliced them. I remember I loved the fresh earthy flavor. Not being completely set up in my kitchen or even having a clear cooking thought-process in those days, I decided that even though I did like them, they seemed too messy and complicated to deal with. (Shame on me!) It would not be until years later when I really started to expand my culinary repertoire that I rediscovered them, and have been making them pretty regularly ever since.
Beets are generally known to be red. It’s only been in the past few years the beautiful golden variety have made an appearance in grocery stores and given mainstream shoppers some variety. Farmers markets on the other hand have not only red and gold, but also white – which are quite pretty.
I like to think of beets as a real “super food.” They are very low in calories and contain only small amount of fat. Their nutritional benefits come particularly from fiber, vitamins, minerals, and unique plant derived anti-oxidants. Red beets are a rich source of a compound called Betaine. Betaine is important as it helps lower the amino acid homocysteine, which is linked to heart disease. Raw beets are an excellent source of Folate and Vitamin C. Beet greens (the tops) are an excellent source of Vitamin A.
So with all that great goodness, what should we do? After a little pondering, I decided it would be fun to show you two different ways to use beets in recipes this week: one is a simple salad and one a cold soup.
To read the rest of my blog post and to see my easy recipes using beets click here.
If you are around on Saturday check out the Rye Brook Farmers Market at St. Paul's Church on Kings Street. I'll be there doing a coming demo!