Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Grilled Beets and Other Things

This is a side dish that was almost perfect.  Almost.

I always look at the pretty piles of beets at the farmer's market and wonder what in the heck to do with them.  They are pretty, but "beet" is not a thing that I immediately think I want to eat.  There are just words that have automatic negative food connotations in my mind.

But, after all, I am trying to overcome those negative impressions here, right?  I mean, if I can be a champion for the deliciousness of dandelions, I certainly should be able to eat a beet!

By the way, I totally want to have a dandelion dinner next spring.  In my food related fantasies, it will be top chef style, with 5 courses, all of them featuring dandelion.  For dessert I am thinking about a dandelion and creeping charlie sorbet with candied dandelions on top.  Whatta ya think?  If I was a famous (or even just actual) chef, I could charge for the meals and give all the proceeds to a good cause.  Maybe Growing Power.  I'm not a famous (or even just actual) chef, so what I will probably do is just make some more soup and salad for myself and call it a night, but it would totally be fun.  If anyone wants to come to my dandelion themed charity dinner, let me know!
Raw veggies

Anyway, beets.  They're pretty.  They have a terrible name.  It's time to try them.

I got a variety pack of beets - some pink, some red, and some striped.  The first thing I learned is that beet juice stains.  A lot.  Not just your clothes, but your cutting board and your hands.  I kind of looked like I murdered someone.  I am not a huge fan of wearing gloves while handling food (I tend to cut of the tip of the finger of my glove off, and then have to throw out whatever I'm working on because there's a tiny tip of plastic glove hiding somewhere in it) but this might be the right time to wear them.  Unless you want to go to work the next day and have to defend the beet blood on your hands...

I couldn't find much on the good old interwebs about cooking beets. I really wanted to grill them, and all I could really find was that it could be done, and they didn't take that long. Unfortunately, I mixed the all up with zucchini and yellow squash, which really don't take that long, and the beets ended up a little on the under cooked side.  Like raw.

Now, again according to the interwebs, the best way to eat a beet is raw.  Apparently they help fight cancer.  But the thing is, they're really hard.  So... yeah.  If you're going to eat them raw, cut them small.  These needed to be cooked more.  They hurt my teeth.  But even still, they tasted delicious.  For looking like dirty little potatoes, beets are very sweet.  Almost apple like, but maybe even sweeter.  And more colorful!  I feel like a beet and pork recipe would work exactly in the way an apple and pork recipe works. 

So this recipe is right in terms of content.  In terms of directions, this is what I should have done, not what I actually did.  Also, beets give you less than what you think they will, so buy more than one bunch!

Grilled Beets and Summer Squash

  • 5 or so medium beets, cut into bite sized chunks (L)
  • 1 small zucchini, cut into bite sized chunks (L*)
  • 1 small summer squash, cut into bite sized chunks (L*)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp minced mint (L*)
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
Cooked (mostly) veggies.  So pretty!
Place cut beets and cut squash into two separate small bowls.  In a third bowl, combine remaining ingredients and whisk together well.  Pour over the beets and the squash and stir each to coat.

Heat a grill to medium high.  In a wire grill rack, cook beets for about 8 minutes, or until beets start to get soft, stirring twice to flip.  After beets start to soften, add squash and continue to cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until beets and squash are cooked through.

This was very cool, and a little sweet from the beets.  It went perfectly with Jamaican Jerk chicken - and would have gone even better if the chicken had been hotter!

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