Sunday, July 12, 2009

Ruby orbs of tastiness

Beets are a funny thing. I spent most of my childhood avoiding them; my father grew them every year in his very large Italian-immigrant-guy garden. They appeared on our table constantly, in all guises: steamed, boiled, roasted, pickled, shredded. I tasted them a few times, probably all times before the age of 10. My verdict: "They taste like red dirt." So I didn't eat them again for almost 30 years.

We started getting them, of course, with our CSA share. And, predictably, I had palmed them off every time on my friends. My neighbor has Russian relatives, so she knew just what to do with a bunch of beets. And my friend Deb used them to make borscht, which reminded her of her late mom. But then The Boy, then about 5 or 6, asked me why I kept giving our vegetables away. I promised him I'd cook them for him, silently reminding myself to "model good behavior" and not make yukky faces while I served him the beets. Surprise! He loved them. And so did I. Now we look forward to getting beets every year at the farm and sometimes even break down and buy those pretty golden ones once in a while if we go to Idlywilde Farms.

One day about two years ago, when we had a pretty good haul from the farm, The Boy decided he'd make up a salad recipe to use the things we'd gotten in our farm share. The salad consisted of roasted beets, steamed carrots, and shredded lettuce, all topped with a dollop of mayonnaise. Gulp. Well, we tried it, and he liked it, and he was eating all these vegetables, so I wasn't going to put the kibosh on THAT.

For a poolside dinner party we attended the other night, I made a slightly altered version of The Boy's salad, with the roasted beets (quartered), steamed carrot coins (cut with the crinkly carrot cutter I inherited from my late mom-in-law), and lovely butter lettuce cups. I made some lemon mayo (no, not from scratch! I doctored some Hellmann's with fresh lemon juice and zest) and served it on the side for drizzling. It made a delicious sauce to dip the beets into, and pretty much rendered the carrots and lettuce irrelevant. Sorry I couldn't take a picture of the entire composed salad, but I brought the elements of it to the party-giver's house separately so we wouldn't have blood-red lettuce, carrots, and dressing. So I just took a pic of the beets. But they're pretty enough to stand alone, don't you think?


  1. Interesting...maybe I'll try this with the beets I have from last week's pick up. I'm not a beet fan, either, and have been searching for something to bring me around :)

  2. Well, both the girl and boy will eat them. And me, of course. I think the roasting makes them sweeter and less dirt-like. The husband, not so much with the beets. We're still working on him not making the "ick" face when he sees them on the table...

  3. My husband loves beets, which is the only reason why I keep trying 'em. Otherwise, I'd be the one giving them away each week :)