Friday, July 27, 2012

Beet It

I must have been about seven years old, but I can clearly remember sitting at the dining room table crying over a helping of beets.  We were required to ask permission to be excused from the table and any food left on the plate was reason for denial of the request.  My brother, having already choked down his beets, was laughing at something on TV in the living room.  I thought my torture had ended at bedtime when I was finally dismissed from my uneaten beets.   

They reappeared on my plate the next night. 

I've never much eaten them since.

But watching the national news the other night, Lester Holt interviewed Yoko Ono about her new film project called #SmilesFilm.  You can tweet a photo of you smiling and the collection of smiles will be assembled and the confluence of smiles will change the world.  Lester asked her what John Lennon would think of the Smiles Project.  They cut to a video of John and Yoko singing and John's words spoke to me.  

"All we are saying is give beets a chance."

Having been "called" by John Lennon, I went to the farmer's market
last weekend and picked up a little purple bundle.
I have to admit they're quite beautiful.

I always loved the greens.
They were boiled, as I recall it, and served with vinegar.

I thought I would do them two ways.  If I hated one, I'd still have the other.

Way 1:  I spiralized about 1/3 of a vidalia onion.

I peeled two beets with a vegetable peeler and used a spiralizer attachment
that made wide, flat strips of beet kind of like fettucini.  

I sauteed the onion for a few minutes, added the beets and sauteed about five minutes.  Add a little salt, pepper, butter (or Earth Balance) and I called them done.

Way 2:  I prewashed the greens really well and cut them in about thirds and set aside.

When the beets were about done, in another pan, I fried one sliced clove of garlic in about a tablespoon of oil and added the greens, tossing them around a few minutes until they're wilted but still a little crunchy.  Splashed on a little vinegar and I was ready to eat.

Beets two ways:  Beet "fettucini" with sauteed beet greens, garlic and vinegar.
Beets two ways.

Beet fettucini with wilted beet greens, garlic and vinegar served with a little dill sour cream.

I have to admit.  I really loved the beets.  They're really sweet.  And alongside the greens with vinegar, there was a sweet-sour thing going on that was really nice.

Beet "fettucini" with chicken apple sausage

I had the remaining beet for lunch the next day with a chicken-apple sausage and a peppered little sour cream.  Again, really enjoyable.

So if you think you hate beets, send Yoko a smile and give beets a chance.


  1. I do hate beets. There is nothing that tastes more like soil (to me) than beets.

    Better visit Yoko.

  2. Raz,
    I have a lot friends that say the same thing. "They taste like dirt." I thought I didn't like them but I never made the dirt connection.

  3. Love beets, especially fresh. Love their color, too.

    I enjoy your blog. My house is about 30 years younger, and Victorian. I'm gradually restoring it.

  4. so glad you love beets they are some of my favorite.

  5. Ha! Our parents must have gone to the same parenting school. I had the same spinach for several days before my parents decided I was stronger willed than they were. In my defense it was CANNED SPINACH! Not sure my mom ever fixed fresh which I now absolutely love. For some other fabulous beet recipes visit my second daughter, Alethea's blog, "Growing Stones in the Clarktic Circle. Look for the August 19 and August 27, 2011 posts.
    I am heading for the farmer's market in the morning to score some beets which I have always loved...even canned.

  6. I love beets! I have some growing in my big box garden. Your photos look divine.

  7. Okay, this may just sway me to try a beet again. I, too, HATED beets, and the thought of them still brings me back to OUR dinner table, where the same rules applied. (I do believe that most of the old rules were good rules, what can I say.) Anyway, still have to get a spiralizer, too. I bet I would love the greens with the garlic and vinegar. As a German, like you, (yes?), I have a big thing for vinegar -- it was on so much of my childhood fare. Oh, and your pics are gorgeous, as usual.

  8. I did not like vegetables as a child. Carrots, that was about it. Although, after a time, beets were introduced to me and for some strange reason, I liked them.

    I enjoyed your beet recipes, photos and "giving beets a chance" message.

    With a smile, . . . giving beets a chance . . .

  9. I do like beets pickled, though your plate does look appetizing.

  10. I loved hearing this story...I have the same one but with green jello with nuts and cottage cheese. I remember that night like it was yesterday! But I honestly don't think I've ever tried a beet, I can't get passed the smell but if I was served a dish as pretty as yours, I may try them.

    btw, I love your bowl.

  11. I am not a beet fan-but my Mum was.
    She'd even put them on hamburgers!

    I thought she was nuts...until I went to Australia, where they put "beetroot" on their burgers-even at the Mickey D's!

    Your addition of the vidalias probably made the whole thing come together.

    PS-I love the smile project :)

  12. love beet Tzazeki from Spice, the Oleana cookbook!!
    love roasted beets. love cold beets. hot beets. spicy beets. beets with lemon. beets with feta cheese, goat cheese, pecorino romano.... I LOVE BEETS!!!!!

  13. I "hated" those damned pickled beets as a kid! I didn't try them again until I was about 30, when my So. American friends mom was visiting. I initially refused them until my friend said "Maria (what he called me) please give them a try ... Well, I've been hooked since! I love to roast them! Your method looks delicious too and I'll give it a try!

  14. Same childhood experience except with brussel sprouts. Haven't eaten them since. Even my adult daughter has tried to sway me into giving them another chance.

    I've never tried beets. I think they have a better chance with me than brussel sprouts ever will.

    That beet bundle photo is perfection! Those colors!

    Enjoy your veggies this weekend.
    Karla in CA.

  15. I adore beets. My mother pickled beets every summer and we ate them for supper as a condiment with meat and potatoes every night of my life. I still adore them. Sometimes we boil them, but my favorite is roasted in the oven. Then I toss them warm with goats cheese. Your meal looks delish! LOVE them and glad you gave beets a chance. Thanks Yoko.

    xo T.

  16. I love beets! Especially pickled beets...yum. I have never tried eating the greens so thanks for the tip! We tried growin them in our garden but I think we planted them too late. We will try again in the fall.

  17. I have always loved beets, especially pickled beets. Your method looks great. If I am lucky enough to get fresh beets from someone's garden, I scrub them and roast them like a potato. Once they cool I peel them and splash on a bit of vinegar... I am so hungry now.

  18. Both of these sound good. When I was a kid...we always had at the family reunion a big jar of hard boiled eggs in beet juice. They were pickled. I would never try them. But as an adult I've eaten beets and liked them. They are so good for you.

    My friend Shannon who was in the hospital recently...complained that the food was so awful and weird at the hospital. I said, "Give me an example and she said..."Well, There were beets on my plate at noon...beets!" I started laughing because they were so foreign to her. I asked if she tried them and she said of course not. But this is a woman who is scared of vegetables - hence...why she is in the hospital.

    Yes, "Give Beets a Chance"!

  19. All vegetables taste better to me now, and I don't know if it is just that we cook them better. I spent my childhood craving meat, but now love just about all veges for being their unique and wonderful selves. My vegetable love will grow/Vaster than empires, and more slow.

  20. Too funny! Love this and love beets when prepared well (I agree they can taste like dirt if not). I'll have to try your beet fettucini - sounds soooo good!
    Trina ; )

  21. They are beautiful. I like beets and other things that taste like 'soil' so I'm sure I'd love these. Knowing me, I'll never make this but will pass along to my foodie friend to make for me.

  22. Never had a problem with food. Liked it all. I remember as a child falling asleep at my friend's dinner table while she held out on peas. She still doesn't like them.
    My mother used to make 'Sil Salad', a Scandinavian cold dish of pickled beets, sliced onion, cold boiled potatoes and..... pickled herring in sour cream. Guess if you liked that, you'd like anything edible.

  23. Jeez I remember the same torture over food when I was a kid but thankfully those days are gone. Anything I thought I hated I now love beets included.

    I purchased a spiralizer even though I don't like gadgets but I have to say I'm having fun with this one!

    Enjoy your weekend Steve!

  24. I only "discovered" beets a few years ago when they came roasted on a salad at a restaurant. I loved them! But it wasn't until this year that I tried roasting them at home. I made a beautiful salad with them and posted it on my blog. Yes, they are great to photograph - beautiful specimens. I am so happy to have beets in my diet now. I do think they taste "earthy." And I love that about them.

  25. Ha!I knew Iloved ya for a good reason! I ALSO remember sitting at my plate for hours refusing to eat the crimson soggy beets on my plate.

    Never have since either.

    I just don't know if I can give beets a chance.

    Even though I am all about whirlled peas!

  26. Me too with the brussel sprouts...still won't touch them. But I DID learn to love asparagus after having it fresh in a restaurant. As a kid it always came from a can and tasted like I thought decomposing seaweed must taste. Beets? I never have minded them, never loved them. But I just might try your version. Sounds wonderful.

    By the way, on my one and only visit to NYC a few years back with a couple of girlfriends, we stopped a classy looking Asian lady on the nearly deserted sidewalk (early in the morning), and asked directions to Grand Central Station. She seemed hesitant to talk to us but did give us directions. My friends swore it was Yoko, and I said it couldn't be, but when I looked up a current photo...I'm thinking maybe? I'm choosing to think yes :)

  27. I am not so fond of beets. But the ways you have prepared them look very good. I need to get a spiralizer. BTW, I love your transferware plate...beautiful presentation, Steve.

  28. Steve, I feel your pain. I remember sitting for hours, refusing to eat a bowl of soggy cereal. The experience made us stronger.

    None of your commenters have mentioned a very good reason for embracing beets as you have — the beet (or more exactly, beet juice) has been shown to reduce blood pressure dramatically.

  29. I am seriously considering trying them again too after this post!

  30. So much better than crying at your dinner plate! (I did that w/peas of all things and would squish them under my plate. Then when my mother would put the plate in the dishwasher she would discover them...)
    My favorite way to eat beets is a cold beet salad. Beets also remind me of my favorite character on The Office - Dwight.

  31. HA!!! I was just reliving my childhood stuck at the table with beets experience with YOU. So, I like the beet chips that come it the taro chip bag... my husband loves roasted beets. Guess I'd better give beets another chance.

  32. I've never been able to choke beets down -- I echo the "taste like dirt" opinion. But you make them sound almost tempting.... :-)

  33. haha. i had to wake up one morning to a plate of peas. dang, these people were serious about not wasting food.

    i adore beets. both these recipes sound delicious. i've been eating the beet greens in my salads and smoothies too.

  34. I love beets and will try your recipes, yum!

  35. ok steve you are correctly tracking. easy for me to say, my childhood terror was and is brussel sprouts!

    next may i recommend the following;
    roasted chunks in ouch of olive oil and sea salt, when in a dish, squeeze a half of an orange & chopped fresh thyme, toss. top liberally with goat cheese and chopped pistachio's. eddie and jaithan made this at my house, memorable on many counts.

  36. One of my favorite veggies - so glad you found it and shared your recipe. May have to try it.

    Hope all is well otherwise.

  37. Try the "Chioggia" (Italian) variety of beets .... very good. Dark pink in color. They are popping up from the "green" farmers' in my area this summer. I like the Chioggias (or the red or yellow) best roasted, then add a bit of balsamic vinegar and a splash of olive oil. See Alice Waters' very simple recipe in her cookbook "Chez Panisse Vegetables."

  38. You're a brave man. I'm not a fan of beets either, but my daughter loves them, so I roasted them with olive oil, salt, pepper, etc. and found them to be quite delicious.

  39. Inspired by you, I have bought one of these from Amazon. My food won't be as stylish as yours but I am planning some entreating childer food. Purple and orange carrot spaghetti could be fun!

  40. I am a big beet lover, though often in the minority in these parts.

    Chicken sausage, sour cream.....these might help to elevate the poor beets status.

    xo Jane

  41. I love beets...not as a child of course and I was so horrible my mother never even made me try...but now...they are so beautiful, how could you not love them? And the way you've prepared them...the colors, the shapes...yum.

  42. Ha! Love your post and will definitely give beets a chance. Great photos!

  43. I LOoooove beets. Maybe because I am a Lithuanian in heritage, but I grow them every year. My mom used to make beet soup in the summer, and now I make it with sour cream and pickling cucumbers, but she would add hot potatoes with soured milk ( vinegar & milk) to the chilled soup. I adore pickled beets of course, but in the end, I just can't get enough beets. After all, pee is nicer when it's pink! ( eew, I know, but still, it's true).

  44. Steve I now love beets. I think the times I haven't they were just cooked to death. I do prefer them cold with a dressing...Yum!

    Art by Karena

  45. I love beets any which way and this will be top on my list!

  46. I have always thought meals should be a "happy" experience, so I never forced my own children to eat something. As a result, they eat a HUGE variety compared to what I grew up eating.
    Great story!

  47. Yikes Steve, that childhood experience sounds rather traumatic! It's to your credit that you summoned the inner fortitude to give beets another chance.

    That said, I LOVE beets. For me, the best (and easiest) method is roasting (and combining them w/roasted parsnips, carrots, onions, etc.) Soooo good! But since the roasting process heats up the kitchen, best to wait until autumn.

  48. That's such a tricky part of parenting - how do we get kids to try new things and appreciate that they have food on their plate without them growing up to hate beets? :) I'm glad you gave them another chance. I hated beets too from my childhood until I tried them in a restaurant in SF - like anything else, when it's done well and is fresh, it's a totally different experience! Yours look divine. :)

  49. I like pickled beets. Can't say I've eaten them any other way.

  50. LOVE beets. Always have. My parents were a lot more flexible than yours...we were only required to eat one mouthful of an objectionable food, as a result, I eat everything (except chicken feet at dim sum). Try to find golden beets at your farmer's market, they have a milder flavor and so can be paired with more things including herbs. I usually wrap beets in foil and toss on the grill for an hour or so. Mmmm.

  51. Having been raised on only the canned variety of beets - and I don't mean the home grown, home canned kind - I never liked beets much either. But apparently they are the in thing these days as I've had them in restaurants twice in the last few weeks and they were DELICIOUS! I can't wait to try them myself at home. Thanks for the recipes!

  52. I LOVE beets! Will definitely try out these recipes... I think I may even like them because they have an earthy flavour...

  53. Hey Steve, Great read!!! I remember harvesting beets for our family garden as a youngster. My Mom would pickle them. Loved 'em!!! Sally doesn't like them, so I don't see them served at the Wilson Kelsey ranch with any frequency... I'll have to suggest trying your recipes to her.


  54. I thought I was the only one that this ever happened to!!!!
    Mine was stewed tomatoes...and if I didn't eat them...I got them for breakfast!!!
    Different parenting techniques back then, eh???

    Lovely photos by the way...and I LOVE beets...try them cold, with goat cheese....YUMMO...

    Linda :o)