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WHAT’S IN SEASON NOW: Beets!
Next time you consume a garlic-filled meal, you could grab a few breath mints to eliminate having “garlic breath,” or you could try snacking on a few beet leaves. It’s true, and just one of the many health benefits of beets.
Raw beets, now available at Placer County farmers’ markets, have a slightly crunchy texture that turns soft and somewhat buttery when cooked. Beets are commonly prepared like spinach or Swiss chard. Incredibly rich in nutrients, vitamins and minerals, as well as carotenoids such as beta-carotene, beets have zero fat, are low in calories and high in fiber.
Beets are typically a striking reddish-purple color but are also available with white, golden/yellow and even rainbow colored roots. When you’re ready to enjoy this brightly pigmented cardiovascular-friendly veggie, make sure to wear kitchen gloves, as beet juice can stain your skin.
DID YOU KNOW?
Beets are not only a nutritious vegetable to be enjoyed in a myriad of ways, but some believe beets can heal wounds, cure acne and lessen tumor cell growth, among other things. What’s more, since Roman times beet juice has been considered an aphrodisiac.
PREPARATION AND STORAGE:
After purchasing, remove the tops from the beetroots, as the greens rob moisture and nutrition from the roots. If you’re planning to eat the top greens, do so as soon as possible while they are fresh (for the best taste). The beetroot, however, can be kept for a few weeks in the refrigerator at a high-humidity setting. It’s not advised to freeze raw beets, as they will become soft when thawed; cooked beets will freeze just fine.
HOW TO PAIR WITH LOCAL WINE:
Lone Buffalo’s 2010 Thundering Beast Zinfandel pairs perfectly with Chilled Beet Soup (recipe available at stylemg.com). A Gold Medal winner at the 2013 San Francisco Chronicle wine competition, this Placer County wine is full bodied and loaded with raspberry and spice. It couples beautifully with the earthiness of the beets without overpowering the subtle sweetness and rich flavors derived from roasting them. The inclusion of buttermilk in the soup adds a slight tang and depth, which also requires a more full-bodied wine. You could also try other local Zinfandels, such as the Dono Dal Cielo 2009 Zinfandel, Wise Villa 2011 Zinfandel and Pescatore 2011 Zinfandel.
For more information about where to buy local PlacerGROWN products, including wine, visit placergrown.org.
Chilled Beet Soup with Dill
Recipe by Foothill Farmers’ Market Association Chef Courtney McDonald
- 1 pound beets, any color, washed, stem and root ends removed
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
- 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 2 small carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, toss the washed beets with ¼ cup olive oil and 1 tablespoon salt. Spread on a baking sheet and add 2 tablespoons water. Cover the baking sheet very tightly with foil and roast in the oven until tender – about 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the size of the beets. The water will steam the beets while roasting. When beets are tender, remove from the oven to cool slightly.
While beets are cooling, heat a small soup pot over medium heat. Add the remaining olive oil, onion and carrots, stirring frequently, until onions are soft and translucent.
When the beets are cool enough to handle, use a paring knife to scrape the skins off. Cut into quarters and add to the soup pot. Add the vegetable stock and enough water to cover the vegetables, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes to marry flavors. Remove the pot from the heat. Using a blender, puree the soup to a fine consistency. Finish with the sugar and buttermilk, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Place soup over an ice bath to speed chilling and thin the consistency with cold water, if necessary. Once soup is chilled, add the chopped dill and serve. Serves 6.