MERLIN BEETS

Credit: Tha Dah

DESCRIPTION: Beets are a nutritional powerhouse full of iron and other vitamins and minerals. I like them steamed or roasted until tender(see recipe below), pickled or made into Borscht (try it chilled this time of year). Be sure to add plenty of acid (lemon goes beautifully with beets) to balance their sweetness. Once again, be sure to cut off those greens before storing in your fridge. Beets without their greens will keep for several weeks. Also, don’t be shocked if beets turn your pee pink.It’s perfectly natural. Enjoy them while we have them---they won’t return until the fall.

The best way to learn to love beets is to roast them until they're fully tender and dress them with salt, lemon or vinegar, and olive oil while still warm. Preheat your oven to 400. Wash your beets and cut the greens off them. Place in a baking dish, add an inch of water, and cover tightly with foil. Roast for about 45 minutes or until knife tender all the way through. Let cool until you can handle them and then slide off the skins using your fingers and some paper towel. Slice beets into bite-sized pieces and toss with salt, lemon or vinegar, and olive oil. Enjoy as is or toss with goat or feta cheese or store in the fridge to add to salads throughout the week like this Beet Panzanella. Summertime also makes me think of a chilled Beet Borscht.  

STORAGE: Store beets, without their tops, in an unsealed bag in your fridge for a week, if not longer. 

RECIPE: Roasted Beet Salad with Fresh Herbs

Heat your oven to 400. Wash your beets and if you’re not in a hurry, leave them whole (yes, you can leave the root and the stem end on!) If you want to speed up the cooking time, cut them in half. You want them to be roughly the same size so they’ll cook at the same pace. Place them in baking dish/roasting pan and add an inch of water, a drizzle of olive oil and a good sprinkle of salt. Cover with a tight-fitting lid or some foil and roast until knife-tender all the way through. This should take 40-60 minutes depending on how big your beets are. Allow beets to cool until you can touch them and then slip the skins off the beets. This will stain your fingers a lovely shade of red, so use some paper towel to make it less messy if you prefer. While still warm, toss with a good glug of red wine vinegar and/or plenty of lemon juice and some salt. Let this sit for at least 20 minutes to fully marinade and then finish with some good olive oil and a handful or two of chopped fresh herbs (dill, parsley, cilantro, sorrel or mint all dowell here).To make this salad more substantial or exciting add: toasted walnuts or pecans, crumbled feta or goat cheese, a few tablespoons of whole milk or greek yogurt, some chopped preserved lemon (this is my favorite!), or some arugula or other salad greens.

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