We have a surplus of beets in the root cellar; beautiful, bright yellow flesh beets, round, red, smooth, deep red roots, and candy-caned striped Chioggia beets. Although there are small leaves starting to sprout on the tops of some, these beets are still in top form, waiting to be eaten and enjoyed.
Although beets are of Mediterranean origin, they grow extremely well in our cold, Maine climate. Beets were originally grown for their leaves and for cattle feed. As a seasonal vegetable, beets keep for several weeks in the refrigerator, or in our living situation, beets store extremely well for several months in the root cellar.
Remember all those legendary Russian centenarians?
Beets, frequently consumed either pickled or in borscht, the traditional Russian soup, may be one reason behind their long and healthy lives. These colorful root vegetables contain powerful nutrient compounds that help protect against heart disease, birth defects and certain cancers, especially colon cancer.
In the body, beets play an important role in detoxifying homocysteine, the amino acid implicated in heart disease. Recent research indicates that they also have anti-inflammatory characteristics. Plus they are packed with vitamins, nutrients, and fiber.
Beet fiber has been a nutrient of increasing interest in health research. While many people tend to lump all food fiber into one single category called “dietary fiber,” there is evidence to suggest that all dietary fiber is not the same. Beet fiber (along with carrot fiber) are two specific types of food fiber that may provide special health benefits, particularly with respect to health of our digestive tract (including prevention of colon cancer) and our cardiovascular system.
Beets are also delicious when eaten both raw and cooked. The recipe for Beet Salad is simple, and with a good, sharp knife, easy to prepare. The sweet flavor and crunch of raw beets when simply dressed with this light vinaigrette will keep folks coming back for more.
- 1 pound beets
- 2 tablespoons lemon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon grainy mustard
- sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
- Peel the beets. Grate into a large bowl, or using a sharp knife or mandolin, cut the beets into matchstick sized pieces.
- Mix well with the dressing ingredients and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
- For the best flavor, store in the refrigerator for several hours. Allow to come to room temperature before eating.