The Most Perfect Accompaniment to Beets

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If you’re still reading then you must love beets. All the beet haters have moved on, leaving just us – the beet lovers, to learn all about this match made in heaven. Beets are one of the eight or so Ontario vegetables that grow all the way until November, and there is always an abundance of locally grown beets on our shelves and in farmers markets all across the province. When we discuss beets, we are usually referring to the taproot, the root of the beet, but beet tops are also packed with vitamins and flavour, and are great cooked or raw. Okay, now let’s get down to business.

What is the most perfect accompaniment to the humble beet? 

We’ll get to that. But first, if you love apple cider vinegar did you know that you can make your own instant pickled beets recipe? Simply steam some beets, slice them and douse them with a healthy amount of apple cider vinegar. Seasoned with salt and pepper let them chill in the fridge to absorb all the tart vinegar and serve them up as a side dish at dinner. Nothing could be easier.

 

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Beets are also great raw, grated into your favourite coleslaw recipe to add colour and crunch. Another super quick and easy salad is to grate equal parts raw beets and raw carrot, add a little minced garlic and a handful of chopped parsley, season and dress with a basic vinaigrette.

And then there’s beet juice! Beet juice is one of the darlings of the juice world, as beets contain high levels of folic acid, manganese, and a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflamatory phytonutrient called Betalain. Drink it up! Especially right now when we are dying for a shot of health in the throes of deepest winter.

Health! Look no further than the beet greens. It is the green itself that really knocks it out of the park when it comes to nutrition. According to The World’s Healthiest Foods beet greens offer “Unusually Comprehensive Nutrition”, and rank as one of the top ten foods ever profiled. For example, one cup of boiled beet greens, ringing in at 39 calories, offers an incredible 775% of your recommended daily allotment of vitamin K. And it just keeps getting better, have a look.

 

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Beet greens, the above ground part of the beet plant, is just about as wonderful as its subterranean nether regions. They have a flavour profile similar to Swiss chard and are super simple to prepare, whether steamed, sautéed, wilted or torn raw and tossed into a salad. Even the stems are packed with the same nutrients and flavour, and chopped, make a great, crunchy and brilliant addition to a stir-fry or succotash. A good idea is to roast a dozen or so medium sized beets and keep them handy in the fridge for up to a week, and use them in a variety of ways throughout the week.

To roast, peel the beets, rub a little olive oil on them, season them and wrap in aluminum foil and place them on a tray. Let them roast in a 350 F oven for 30-45 minutes or until soft. Be careful when removing them from the oven as roasting will release some juices. Of course they are fantastic served hot, with butter, salt and pepper.

Okay, finally, here it is. The perfect accompaniment to beets.

Halloumi.

 

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The squeaky, salty cheese is absolutely divine with sweet earthy beets. This salad combines the two and serves them up on a bed of lentils and chickpeas. Enjoy it while you wait for spring.

Spring is coming…I swear!

 

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Salad of Roast Beets and Halloumi with Chives and Tarragon

Serves 4

4 roasted beets, sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

8 medium thick slices of halloumi

cooked lentils and chickpeas

4 sprigs chives

4 sprigs tarragon

vinaigrette

salt and pepper to season

 

Slice the haloumi. Heat oil to hot in frying pan and quickly fry the halloumi on both sides. Put the hot halloumi in a bowl with sliced beets. Toss with a tablespoon (or to taste) vinaigrette, season, and serve with fresh tarragon and chopped chives over a bed of lentils and chickpeas.

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