Thursday, August 18, 2011

Beautiful Beets

     Where do beets come from? Can I come up with some good recipes with this ingredient? Beets are not just amazing in their deep rich purple or golden hue, but they emit a sweet refreshing flavor burst in your mouth.  Their firm texture stands up well in a simple salad of beets and goat cheese, which is absolutely delicious if you have not yet had it.  Turns out beets date back to ancient times - before Christ to be exact!  Its magenta stems and heart shaped leaves make me wonder why I never thought they could be related to chard.  

     I love rainbow chards beautiful colors!  My grandmother always called it swiss chard and I'm not really sure where why, but that is another ingredient for another month.  Miss you grams!  The mediterranean is thought to be the origin of the beetroot.  In case you have heard, beets do give us table sugar, but not the pretty ones; those are called sugar beets.  Any nutritionist or the like worth their weight will tell you that the colors of the rainbow are best for our bodies.  What does the purple beet do for my body though?  
     My grams used to make beet soup (aka borscht), but I would never touch it.  This is a staple in the Ukranian diet.  As a child, I refused to touch it.  Perhaps all the notions of what is gross just gets abandoned or maybe our bodies really do change every 7 yrs. I will have to look that into that.  Does anyone else find that their taste buds expand as we get older?  

My first beet recipe!
Grilled Beet Panzanella w/Scallops
  OMG!  This bread salad was amazing, lots of credit to the small farmers who produced sweet "clean" beets and the juicy peaches.  The beets were bright and sweet.  The crusty and chewy bread did not steal the show. Sweet scallops and garden fresh tasting zucchini and eggplant paired well with all components of the dish.  A little sweet peach provided the icing on the "cake".  Needless to say, neither of us craved dessert. 
     So, what about these purple gems makes them healthy?  Beets are good for the body because they have antioxidant properties, help detoxify the body, and are anti-inflammatory.  Three very important things that contribute to a good feeling body.  They can however be counterproductive for some individuals, especially those of us that do not have enough iron.  Beeturia produces a purple water in a bowl you would never think of drinking.  If you are one of the less than 15% individuals who experience this, stop eating beets and call your doctor.

Grilled Beet Panzanella w/Scallops
3 medium sized roasted red beets
1/2 loaf thick crusty rustic bread
Extra Virgin Olive oil
1 small heirloom zucchini
2 small graffiti eggplant
1 small yellow onion
1/4 tspn kosher salt
1 tspn garlic powder
6 large scallops
1/4 c balsamic vinaigrette
2 just ripe peaches (1 large, 1 donut/saturn)
1.  Chop beets into 1/2 inch even chunks and set aside in a small bowl.  Slice bread in half horizontally, sprinkle 1/2 of the garlic powder, and brush liberally with olive oil and set aside. Chop zucchini, eggplant and onion into 1/4 inch chunks. Drizzle liberally with olive oil, add salt and other half of garlic powder and toss into a grill basket/pan.
2.  Grill vegetables on high (direct heat) for 10 minutes.  When slightly charred move around loosely with tongs.  Set timer to grill for about 15 more minutes on medium.  Meanwhile, slice peaches in half and chunks.  Treat yourself to the little pieces left over :)  Brush with olive oil. Brush scallops with olive oil and season with a dusting of garlic powder and dried oregano flakes.
3.  When timer sounds, place scallops and bread on medium heat directly on grill.  Grill for 2 minutes on each side - longer for bread if necessary to reach golden brown crunchiness.  Remove everything from grill.  Place softened vegetables in a metal salad mixing bowl.  Use a sharp knife to chop bread into 1/4 inch chunks.  Chop peaches into small chunks. Add all grilled ingredients to vegetables and balsamic vinegarette.  Toss gently in bowl to combine flavors.  Enjoy :)

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