Market Share — your best bets for beets

So you went to the market and came back with a bushel of beets — unfortunately, unless you’re creative, that’s probably about five beets too many. Lucky for you, Market Share’s got the answer on how to transform them into a trio of delicious beet dishes.

A trio of beet-y beauties to wow friends and in-laws with
Photos by Stacey DeWolfe

Beets! They’re red, and sweet, and earthy, and cheap and abundant in Quebec — even now, as we head into the long cold winter. But if you’re like me, when you come home from the market with a bushel of beets, you often realize that you have about five beets too many. You make some borscht or juice a few up with some pear and ginger, and the rest just sit there in the fridge for longer than you ever thought possible. Still, you don’t eat them, and eventually, after several months, you toss them in the compost.

When I was a kid, I disliked beets immensely. They had a taste that I just didn’t enjoy (which is weird, because they’re so candy-like when roasted), were mostly served as pickles (which were unpleasantly cold and overly vinegary) and led to unnerving experiences in the bathroom. I don’t think I ate a beet until well into my 20s, and it wasn’t until much later, when those organic farm paniers appeared in my neighbourhood, that I really learned to truly appreciate this little ruby gem.

Like many vegetables of the brightly coloured variety, beets are good for you: they’re super high in potassium, iron, calcium, folic acid and vitamins A and C, and are excellent sources of fibre. But they can be intense if you consume them in too-large quantities. In fact, a good friend once suffered a kind of beet-induced breakdown after an ill-informed juice fast. But few people are likely to fall into that kind of mania, for as I mentioned above, most people can only eat so many beets at a time. With my weekly panier, I had more beets than I knew what to do with. I couldn’t give them away.

Then René Redzepi came along and solved all of my problems. Redzepi is the chef at and owner of Noma — which is currently acknowledged as the Best Restaurant in the World — and is partially responsible for the foraging craze. His menus are created from ingredients gathered from the lands and water bodies of Denmark, where the restaurant is located. But what does Redzepi have to do with beets?

When the Noma cookbook came out a few years ago, I was beyond thrilled, despite the fact that the recipes are almost impossible for the home chef to realize, dependent as they are on refined cooking techniques and expensive small appliances like sous-vide baths and blenders that turn liquid into edible snow. Sure, I was tempted by recipes like “Milk Skin with Grass” and the multi-ingredient “Vegetable Field,” but after spending no less than 10 hours trying to make two dishes, I decided to plumb the book for ideas about flavour and texture and see what this new knowledge inspired in me.

And it is the result of this research that leads me here, to a series of dishes that can be served together as an ultra-snazzy, impress-your-friends-and-in-laws appetizer, or eaten individually, as side dishes.

Beet slaw
Pop two raw beets and three carrots into the Cuisinart, or grate them by hand. Then chop up some fresh mint, some scallions, if you have them and a fresh jalapeno pepper. Add the juice of half a lemon, two tablespoons of olive oil, half a teaspoon of maple syrup (though beets are naturally sweet, they tend to respond well to a little extra sweetness) and salt and pepper to taste.

Toss together and let sit in the fridge so that the flavours meld.

Caramelized beets
Pop whole beets in the oven at 375 F for about an hour. When they are done, take them out and let them cool, then peel and cut them into bite sized pieces.

Caramelize diced onions in olive oil in a pan on the stove over low heat: one small onion per two beets. When the onion is sweet and sticky, add the roasted beets, a handful of pomegranate seeds, a glug of maple syrup and one of bourbon. Continue to caramelize over low heat for about 20 minutes. 

Beet purée/soup
As with the caramelized beets, pop whole beets into the oven and roast them at 375 F for about an hour. Again, let them cool, then peel them and slice them and put them in a small saucepan. For four beets, add the juice of two clementines, half a cup of water, and three whole star anise (see picture to right). Bring to a boil and simmer until you are ready to eat. Before serving, blend to the desired consistency, add a small pat of butter for richness and season with salt and pepper.

If you are making soup instead of purée, add one more cup of water or stock.

Getting fancy
Though each of the above make delicious side dishes with all manner of mains, if you are feeling a desire to be fancy, you can put a little dollop of each on a plate and serve it as a three-for-one beet extravaganza. 

Read more about Stacey’s culinary and other adventures on her website, or follow her on Twitter @staceydewolfe


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