Eating Wild with Beets

I can’t say enough in praise of “Eating on the Wild Side.” I’m learning how to preserve and/or enhance the phytonutrients in all of my favorite foods, like beets. I used to worry on occasion about the effect of my zealous beet consumption on my blood sugar. Thanks to Jo Robinson, I now know that beets don’t raise blood sugar by much at all, despite their sweetness. There’s more: beets are among the most antioxidant rich vegetables available at a typical grocery store, along with artichokes (my other favorite food), red cabbage, kale and bell peppers. This news made my day. So naturally, I bought some more beets this morning at the FM.

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The beet greens are sticking out of my right pannier.

I was careful to select a bunch with nice, fresh greens– no wilty or yellowy ones. I’m going to make this recipes again right away.

Turns out that steaming beets is the method that allows for the most antioxidant payoff. I adapted a recipe from the book for a beet and beet green salad with red onions and lemon zest and the result was truly incredible. If you’re a regular to my blog, you know that I make beet/beet green risotto frequently. I’m probably going to make it a bit less regularly now–this is going to be my new go-to beet dish.

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You can’t see the greens very well, but they’re in there.

Ingredients (adapted from Eating on the Wild Side)

2 bunches beets with greens (my beets were pretty small)

1/2 a small red onion, diced

2 large garlic cloves, minced (10 minutes before you’re ready to add the garlic to the pan)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

goat cheese, to taste

1 cup quinoa, cooked

zest of 1/2 a lemon

Method

Cut the greens from the beets, leaving 1 inch of stem on each beet. Don’t cut the little roots off– just rinse the beets off.

Prepare a pot of water to steam the beets– use a steamer basket if you have one. When the water is producing steam, add the beets and cover, steaming until the beets are fork tender (if your beets are small, your cooking time will be relatively short– 30 minutes or so. If you are using big beets, you may need to steam for 50-60 minutes)

Cut the rest of the stems from the greens, and remove the thick center veins. Wash well in cold water and spin or towel dry.

When the beets are finished cooking, remove them from the pot and let them cool until you can handle them comfortably. Then slip the skins off using your hands– it’s easier when you do this under running water. Slice the beets into bit size pieces.

Heat the oil over a low flame and add the onions. I let mine cook on low heat for 10 minutes or so, so they would start to caramelize. (Red onions actually get really nice and sweet, like regular sweet onions, if you cook them like this, but they are much healthier to eat).

Add the garlic and the greens, and stir, coating the greens in the oil. Cook about 5 minutes, until the greens are dark green and soft.

While the greens are cooking, bring the balsamic vinegar to gentle boil in a small pan. Let it reduce by half.

Add the beets and quinoa to the skillet with the greens. Pour the balsamic over the mixture and stir. Add in some goat cheese and let it get melty. Zest that lemon and enjoy!

(I served this at a potluck at room temp and it was delish).

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The purple coloring of beets comes from betalains, a type of phytonutrient.

 

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