Monday, March 13, 2006

Golden Beet Salad

I cannot recall when I ate my first beet. I know my grandmother often served them at family meals. It sat cold and wiggley in between the sauerkraut and Jell-o; the beltway of the table I despised. Often times, when the plate got away from my small hands “grandma’s specialties” were loaded on. I sat there shifting the food around, building monuments in the likeness of Jabba the Hut, until all was an indistinguishable mess. It was many years before I willingly placed a beet in my mouth.

The first time must have been in New York City. It might even have been as late as my college years. I want to say that my first beet experience was in a sweet crimson borscht. Delicious and full of vegetables, I am sure I pondered how the soup acquired its rosy hue—that is until beer was in front of me and all was forgotten.

At some point I remember watching (or possibly reading?) a segment about food and how certain vegetables alter a person’s urine. Disgusting, I know, but I have two brothers so this was cool to me. What I take away from that program today: Asparagus= yellow and pungent. Beets= bright pink. To me this was fascinating. I tried consuming bowls of borscht, but that just filled me up. Eventually, I turned to the beet.

I remember again being at my grandmother’s home (post new scientific knowledge). Behold the plate of beets! My grandmother was the only one eating them. Being the dutiful, and only granddaughter, I plunged my fork into the platter and filled my plate with beets. I consumed them faster than I could taste them for fear of ruining my experiment with a bad tasting vegetable. It was halfway through my plate when I paused for breath, tasted, and realized the sweet joy that is the beet.

Today it seems my refrigerator is never without beets. They are the best of additions to any salad, powerful enough to stand on their own, and their leftover juice (the water they are boiled in) makes a superb addition to soup stock. I often cook up more than D or I can consume in one night then hide them in sandwiches, replacing the too common tomato (highly recommended!).

So it was with great joy that I spied the golden beet my supermarket. I bought a bunch, boiled them up and served them simply as pictured: with fresh peppercorn goat cheese, sage and a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar. This salad is pleasant and refreshing. The golden beet is a beautiful vegetable on its own, or paired with the more common red beet. It has a sweeter and more subtle flavor, making it an ideal “starter” beet. It is also a beautiful royal shade, reminiscent of the upcoming spring we all long for.

Oh, and my experiment worked. I called my grandmother into the bathroom to witness my feat. She was not impressed and thought I might be ill.

Serving Size= 2 persons. Active Time= 10 minutes. Inactive time= 45 minutes.
* 4 small golden beets
* 6 fresh sage leaves, pineapple sage is ideal if available
* 4 Tbl plain, herbed or peppercorn goat cheese

1) In a small pot over medium-high heat, bring water to a boil. Wash beets well and trim stalks, leaving about 1 inch in tact. Add beets to water, cover; reduce heat to medium. Cook beets about 45 minutes, until a fork can easily pierce the beets.
2) Remove beets from heat and run cold water over them until they can be handled. Push skin off (once cooked, beet skin easily falls off with a little nudge). Trim off stalk and slice as desired. Arrange on plate.
3) Sprinkle goat cheese over beets, or place on side. Shred sage and sprinkle over. Add a dash of balsamic to taste.

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