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    Thursday, February 5, 2009

    Bloody Beloved Beet Root


    I was recently asked how the food in Australia differs from that in Canada. My response was that Australians put a great emphasis on natural and organic foods, oh, and one other thing: they put beet root on their burgers.

    How strange the conventions of food customs are! I expect a burger to come with tomato, onion and lettuce, served with ketchup, mustard and relish on the side. Where the heck did this beet root come from? 

    It shows up in dips, salads and juices also so there is no doubting that it is more prominent in Australian cuisine generally, but how did it become such a staple that it shows up on a burger from McDonalds?

    The beet has been shown to lower blood pressure, prevent heart disease and certain cancers, particularly colon cancer. It has also demonstrated lowering inflammation and reducing incidences of birth defects.

    What I love about beets is their alarming color, the same goriness that used to frighten me as a child. As we have now learned with food, any whole food that has an intense color is plentiful in certain nutrients. And nothing is more intense than the staining crimson of a beet! I particularly love when beets are combined with creamy or white foods to produce a sensational pink color. Stay tuned in future posts for my mother's famous rosolje recipe (for those with an adventurous or Baltic/ Scandinavian palette.)


    Delicious Roasted Beet Salad

    1/2 cup of walnuts
    2 tsp olive oil
    pinch of sea salt
    freshly ground black pepper

    Preheat oven to 350ºF. Combine walnuts with olive oil, salt and pepper to coat nuts. Spread on baking sheet and bake 10 minutes or until toasted. Set aside to cool.

    6 medium-sized beets, trimmed and washed
    3 shallots, thinly sliced

    Wrap beets individually and place on a baking sheet with a lip. Bake at 350ºF until tender, about an hour and a half. Let cool for 20-25 minutes then peel the beets by holding them under running water and rubbing off the skins. (Wear rubber gloves to avoid stained hands!)

    Cut beets into wedges and place in a mixing bowl with shallots. 

    6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    2 tbsp red wine vinegar
    2-3 pinches of salt
    pinch of sugar (or a squirt of honey)
    fresh ground black pepper

    Combine dressing ingredients. Taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Pour over beets and shallots and toss. Let sit at room temperature for an hour or two.

    1/2 pound of baby spinach leaves, washed and dried
    3 oz of fresh goat cheese, crumbled

    To plate, place beet-shallot mixture atop beds of spinach. Crumble goat cheese and walnuts on top. Savour deliciousness. Revel at pink-colored beauty as salad is consumed.

    2 comments:

    amandalaird said...

    I love beets. They were once reserved for my grandmother's house (where they only came in the pickled variety), but I see them more and more in restaurants in Toronto. I've never tried to do anything with them myself, but this looks like a great salad.

    The rosolje looks similar to a dish I had in Costa Rica that I believe to have been a combination of beets and eggs. It's the pink dish in this picture: http://flickr.com/photos/sarnya/3105450271/in/set-72157611227892698/.

    Jess Bennett said...

    Thanks for the comment, Amanda. I had no idea that Costa Ricans ate beets at all let alone in a salad alongside boiled eggs!

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