CSA Veggie of the Week: Beets

Photo: La Grande Farmers’ Market/CC BY 2.0

We got the beet. We got the beet. We got the beet. Yeah! We got it.

To steal a great line from the Go-Gos we definitely got the beets. In our farm share every week so far.

It’s a vegetable we’ve really grown to love in my house. The simplest preparation of this ruby-amethyst plant is to cut off the greens—save them to toss with dressing and other veggies—then roast the heck out of the bulbs. Sometimes we cook them for as long as an hour. Once they’ve cooled, peel those bad boys, chop them up, toss them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and enjoy. If you’re feeling adventurous, throw in a hard cheese like parm.

That’s definitely become our go-to recipe when beets fill our produce drawer. But part of what I like about the CSA is the challenge of coming up with new ideas. Hence this week’s attempt to use beets in a cold soup called borscht.

Borscht is a dish that stems from Russia and Poland. It traveled with its immigrant creators to this country, and though it’s a challenge to find a definitive borscht history, I’d guess it became popular less so for its taste than its easy preparation and short ingredients list. (Again, that’s just my hypothesis.)

This dish transports me to my great-grandmother’s apartment. The adults would sit around the huge, wooden table spooning the purple liquid topped with sour cream. The kids would play under the table, using its legs—and those of our parents—as a jungle gym. Despite the dish’s prominence in these memories, I’d never before tried it. It was much tastier than I expected.

Plus, the prep was super simple. (I followed Joan Nathan’s recipe from Quiches, Kugels and Couscous.) Peel and chop up five or six beets, an onion, and some celery, and throw them in a pot with water that sits one inch above the veggies. Bring the pot to a boil. Turn down the heat and add a teaspoon of salt, a tablespoon or more of sugar, and some lemon juice. Let the mixture simmer until the beets become tender (anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour). Blend it, chill it, and serve it with a dollop of sour cream.

If the idea of cold beet soup doesn’t make your stomach growl, here are a few other ideas, the first of which my husband and I plan to try this week:

Beet Rosti with Rosemary, The New York Times
Grated Raw Beet Salad, The New York Times
Beet and Goat Cheese Arugala Salad, Giada De Laurentiis/The Food Network
Beet and Beet Green Risotto with Horseradish, Gourmet (1998)
Raw Tea Sandwiches, Rawmazing

“The views expressed in user comments do not reflect the views of Audubon. Audubon does not participate in political campaigns, nor do we support or oppose candidates.”