I like to think I’ve always enjoyed vegetables — especially those others would prefer didn’t exist, let alone show up on their dinner plates. The what are those, how does one prepare them, cook, or eat them vegetables. But my perspective was limited early on by what so many of ours has been: the availability and affordability of certain types of fresh vegetables as well as what our mothers actually served us.
Which brings me to beets.
The only beet I recall sitting on my dinner plate was a deep magenta slice of somewhat gelatinous matter not too unlike the canned cranberry sauce sliced and served at our holiday turkey dinners. It was smaller in circumference and served with iceberg lettuce suggesting it was a salad. My mother might tell me otherwise, but I’d also venture a guess cottage cheese was involved — or something white — and remembering our fridge, know that had to be it. Creamy, soft goat’s cheese, salty feta, or crumbly cotija would not have been regulars in our cheese drawer which housed my stepfather’s sacred box of Velveeta, a wax-covered package of American cheese slices, and a green can of Kraft Parmesan.
I never learned to enjoy the taste or texture of those beets, an odd combination of sour and sweet and something I thought should be warm instead of cold. Years and years would pass before I learned of how one friend enjoyed them — from jars with spooned sauce drizzled over a homemade chicken pot pie hot from the oven. I can hear her now singing the dish’s praises with the accent her small town Texas roots provided her, and remember watching the respective juices ooze and mingle across the bowl she served the meal in.
I did not want a bite regardless of how happy she was about the idea and suspect she knew it was an odd favorite, goading me to take a bite. I loved her in spite of that beet fiasco because don’t we all have at least one oddball of a dish we secretly enjoy?
Since that time, I’m embarrassed to admit that as much as I realize how good beets are for my body, I still have not quite learned to fully enjoy them. I see them among the other vegetables I routinely purchase and pass them by unless I see rainbow beets, or golden beets. Somehow their beautiful color tempts me to stop and wonder an extra second or two before I give in and throw them in the basket, giving them the benefit of my persistent doubt. But rarely do I consider picking up a bunch of red beets unless I’ve seen a recipe somewhere that suggests I might reconsider trying them. And I’m still reconsidering, because I do try them, then decide not to share the recipe. What favorable comments might I make when the recipe isn’t what’s lacking, but my palate?
Beets leave me thinking that sure, the flavor is okay, and possibly bordering on pleasant, but I can’t shake the memory of those Harvard beets years ago sitting on my lettuce and making everything pink. We’ll call this salad made of roasted golden beets with arugula and sorrel picked from my sad excuse of an herb box a truce of sorts. My continuing attempt to enjoy beets.
I’m not quite there yet, but maybe.
Roasted Beet Salad with Arugula, Sorrel, and Hazelnuts
1-2 roasted beets, sliced
2 c. arugula and sorrel, mixed
1/4 c. hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
2 oz. goat’s cheese, crumbled
splash of good sherry vinegar
drizzle of hazelnut oil
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
- To roast the beets, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Rub the beets with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
- Roast for about 45 minutes, checking for doneness with a fork from time to time.
- When the fork slides in with little resistance, they’re done.
- Allow to cool before peeling and slicing.
- Place the greens on a plate and top with sliced roasted beets.
- Sprinkle the nuts and cheese over.
- Drizzle vinegar and oil over and season.
- Coarsley chop to mix flavors before eating.
- The beets were pleasant in this salad and a nice contrast in texture and flavor to my wild arugula which can be quite spicy, and the tangy taste of the sorrel.
- Speaking of sorrel, this variety is also referred to as Bloody Sorrel or Dock. It’s more mild in flavor than the more common French Sorrel and can be eaten raw when the leaves are new, and cooked like you would use spinach, chard, or kale when the leaves are more mature. Like most greens, the leaves toughen as they mature. Both my arugula and sorrel are perennials so after dying out a bit over winter, they perk right up in the spring with regular water and organic fertilizer.
- About the beets: I’ve recently learned that as is the case with many healthy foods, the less time they’re cooked, the more beneficial they are. And this information about their nutrients may make your head spin, but it’s worth reading — and explains why I continue to work on learning to enjoy beets. It looks like steaming is in order next even though a very slow roast was on my agenda! Or raw…in a smoothie.
- If you’ve not tried hazelnut oil, it’s worth the splurge. I use it in small quantities and almost always mixed with olive oil.
- This salad can be made with whatever greens, oil, and vinegar you have on hand, but if you’re like me and not a lover of beets, give your own version a try. You may be surprised!
- I just had my official five-month weigh-in and have lost a bit more than 25 lbs. I was hoping for a 30 lb. loss by this time, but I am far from discouraged. There’s much to learn along the way and I’m hoping to share more in a while — I think I need to because people have begun to ask, “What are you using?” which implies that I’m taking something or on a program, or following a specific set of guidelines. I am not — so the details and my on-going ups and downs will be shared soon. Remember, I’m shooting for a 50 lb. total loss by September, and as much as a goal is a goal, part of what I’m learning is that adjustments are not only important, they may be necessary depending on specific body types.
Other ways to try beets from around the web:
Gluten-free Goddess — “Quinoa Salad with Roasted Beets”
No Recipes — “Chilled Corn and Golden Beet Soup”
Soup Chick — “Chilled Beet and Tomato Soup”
Pinch My Salt — “Double Dark Chocolate Beet Muffins”
Simply Recipes — “Roasted Beets with Balsamic Glaze”
Food Blogga — “Raw Beet, Lentil, and Pistachio Salad”
Jeanette’s Healthy Living — “Detox Carrot and Beet Smoothie”