City Palate

The Travel Issue - March April 2017

7 quick ways with Beets
March/April2010

Beets are beautiful. In the fall and winter, you will find beets on many upscale restaurant menus, such as the roasted beet salad with organic goat ricotta, roasted shallot vinaigrette and a port reduction we recently had at Muse. Who doesn’t love a big bowl of borscht? Mmmmmm, we love beets.

At this time of year, you’ll find the big deep red beets in the stores and at the markets, both round and cylindrical. In the fall, you’ll find all kinds of little beets in jewel colours – golden, pink, striped, carnelian. You can cook and eat the little guys whole and unpeeled. The big guys need peeling after cooking, but not before or they’ll bleed all over the place. And, surprise, surprise... it’s really easy to slide the skin off beets while they’re still warm after they’ve been cooked. When roasting beets – ‘tis better to roast than boil – don’t cut the tail off and leave about one inch of stem. These are trimmed when the skin is slipped off after cooking. Canned beets are good too.

1. A Good Winter Salad

Rub some medium-sized beets with a bit of olive oil and roast them in a preheated 400°F oven until tender, about 1 hour. Allow the beets to cool just enough to handle, then trim off the tail and stem and slide the skin off. Cut the beets into chunks and toss them with sliced celery, sliced sugar snap peas and your favourite vinaigrette or olive oil and white balsamic vinegar. Just before serving, toss with salad greens, avocado slices or chunks and salt and pepper. Sprinkle liberally with crumbled feta cheese and serve immediately.

2. Borscht

Rub some big old beets with olive oil and roast them in a preheated 400°F oven until tender, about 1-1/2 hours. Remove and cool just enough to trim and slide the skin off. Reserve. In a soup pot, sauté a chopped onion, a minced garlic clove, two chopped carrots and a handful of shredded cabbage in some olive oil until the veg are a bit caramelized. Chop the beets into chunks and add them to the pot along with 3 c. chicken stock, 1 c. wine or beer and salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, taste for seasoning and allow to simmer for 1 hour or so until the veg are tender. Stir in a splash of red wine vinegar or lemon juice just before serving. Serve topped with a dollop of sour cream, minced cucumber and snipped dill. Serves 4.

3. Gail Norton’s Beets with Star Anise Vinaigrette

Rub 10 medium-sized beets with olive oil and roast them in a preheated 400°F oven for about 1 hour, or until they are tender enough to pierce with a fork. Remove and allow the beets to cool enough so you can handle them. Trim the tail and stem ends and slip the skin off. If the beets are young enough, you can leave the skin on – it has flavour. Cut the beets into wedges and toss with a vinaigrette made with 2 T. apple cider vinegar, 1/2 t. ground star anise and 1 T. walnut oil. Serve immediately, or eat the beets cold or at room temp. Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish.

4. German Beet and Herring Salad

From epicurious.com. Drain 1 can pickled beets and reserve the juices. Dice the beets and put them in a bowl. Add 1 can sliced potatoes, drained, and 1 medium jar herring in cream sauce with onions. Add 1 dill pickle, chopped fine, and 1 granny smith apple, chopped. Add 2 T. beet juice, mix well, and let stand in the fridge for one day. (If plain pickled herring is used, add some sour cream to the mixture.)

5. Honey-Orange Beets

Adapted from Canadian Living’s Best Vegetables. Coat 6 medium-sized beets in a bit of oil and roast them in a preheated 400°F oven until tender, about 1 hour. Let them cool enough to handle, then trim them, slip the skin off, and cube the beets. Put the beet cubes in a bowl. In a saucepan, heat the zest from 1 large orange with 2 T. orange juice, 2 T. butter, 2 t. liquid honey and 1/4 t. ground ginger (or 1 t. grated fresh ginger) over low heat until the butter melts. Add the beets and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve. Serves 4.

6. Beet Greens Soup

You’ll find beautiful medium-size beets in bunches in the markets. Save the greens and make them into a soup. (Young summer greens can be used in salads.) To make soup, sauté a bunch of minced shallots and some garlic in olive oil. Chop the beet greens and add them to the pot. If you have other greens, such as peppery arugula, chop some and add to the pot too. Sauté the greens until wilted. Add as much chicken or vegetable stock as you want and simmer the soup an hour or so until the greens are well cooked. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve in big bowls finished with crumbled, crisp bacon, crab meat or chopped shrimp.

7. Chef Ellen Kelly’s Beety Suggestions

Buy or make pickled beets, then add peeled hard-cooked eggs to the jar at least 4 hours and up to 5 days before serving. Roast and peel medium-size beets. Slice the beets and fry them in butter and olive oil with lots of fresh mint, dill or tarragon and salt and pepper. Finish the beets with a splash of cider or sherry vinegar.