Being born and raised in Russian culture, and later moving to the United States makes you realize time and time again that traditional russian dishes and key ingredients are really odd to most Americans. I’m sure many of you have heard of the famous Borscht (beet soup) , which i will happily remind everyone that it’s DELICIOUS and i highly recommend everyone to either go make some or go to a russian home and try some.
So, i figured that i’ll create a series posts on Recipes based on a single ingredient, this first time around being the Beet.
First, some Info:
Most people have experienced canned or pickled beets, but few people have had fresh beet experiences. Of course nutritionally fresh raw beets will always be superior to canned or even fresh cooked beets. Speaking of beet nutrition, here are some of the facts: they are high in folic acid (great for pregnant women), potassium, calcium and antioxidants (betacyanin, which is what gives beets their rich red color.).Now the beets we are talking about so far are the beet roots, the portion that grows below the ground. However, leafy beet greens are also very nutritious and can be used for juicing, or cooking as you would any other green. In fact the beet tops are more nutritious than the roots. The greens contain significantly more iron, vitamin A, potassium and calcium than the roots.
Ok, here’s some more about beet nutrition. Beet juice is rich in natural sugar, sodium, sulphur, chlorine, iodine, copper and vitamin B1, B2, C and bioflavonoids. Some holistic practitioners believe that beet juice combined with other juices like carrot and cucumber are excellent for cleansing the kidneys and gallbladder and for restoring health to these organs. Additionally, beet, being a fibrous root, is excellent for aiding in and eliminating constipation. The fiber adds bulk to the diet and therefore helps to improve peristalsis activity in the large intestine.
I had to put it at the top of my list. Borscht is hearty, broth based soup largely made of beets, potatoes and cabbage. As you’d imagine the beets have severely stained the soup, making it odd and foreign to many people.
- 8 cups beef broth
- 1 pound slice of meaty bone-in beef shank
- 1 large onion, peeled, quartered
- 4 large beets, peeled, chopped
- 4 carrots, peeled, chopped
- 1 large russet potato, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 cups thinly sliced cabbage
- 3/4 cup chopped fresh dill
- 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 cup sour cream
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Bring 4 cups of the beef broth, the beef shank, and onion to boil in large pot. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until meat is tender, about 1 hour 30 minutes.
- Transfer meat to work surface; trim fat, sinew and bone and discard. Chop meat; cover and chill. Cool broth slightly. Chill in pot until cold, at least 4 hours and up to 1 day.Spoon fat from top of chilled broth and discard.
- Add remaining 4 cups broth, beets, carrots, and potato; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.
- Stir in meat, cabbage and 1/2 cup dill; cook until cabbage is tender, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in vinegar.
- Ladle soup into bowls. Top with sour cream and remaining 1/4 cup dill. Serves 6.
2. Roasted Beet, Peach & Goat Cheese Salad
“This salad is a bit of work, but it’s so delicious and always impresses guests. Mache can be hard to find, so you may omit it and just use arugula, but it adds a great nutty flavor if you can find it.”
- 2 beets, scrubbed
- 1 bunch mache (lamb’s lettuce), rinsed and dried
- 1 bunch arugula, rinsed and dried
- 2 fresh peaches – peeled, pitted and sliced
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 1/4 cup pistachio nuts, chopped
- 1 (4 ounce) package goat cheese, crumbled
- 1/4 cup walnut oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Wrap each beet in two layers of aluminum foil, and place onto a baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven until the beets are tender, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Allow the beets to cool slightly, then remove the skins. Let the beets cool to room temperature, or refrigerate until cold. Once cooled, thinly slice the beets.
- Place the mache and arugula into a large mixing bowl. Add the sliced beets and peaches; sprinkle with the shallots, pistachios, and goat cheese. In a separate bowl, whisk together the walnut oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper until emulsified, and pour over the salad mixture. Toss well, and serve.
3. Beet and Sweet Potato Soup
- 2 beets, peeled and diced small
- 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 6 cups water
- 3 cups milk, scalded
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Seasonings to taste
- Put all ingredients, except the milk, in a kettle.
- Simmer very slowly for about 45 minutes.
- After cooking, add the milk gradually and serve.
4. Beets Au Gratin
- 8 beets, small
- ½ cup Swiss cheese, grated
- 1½ cups thin white sauce
- (To make White Sauce: scald 1 pint of milk. Melt 1,2 or 3 tablespoons of butter, depending on desired consistency, in a saucepan. Add half a teaspoon of salt, and 1,2,or 4 tablespoons of flour, depending on desired consistency, and let cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Add the milk little by little, stirring gently until it boils. Let it boil for 3 minutes.)
- Peel and slice them under cold water.
- While beets are boiling, make the white sauce.
- Put beets in a baking dish and pour the white sauce over them.
- Sprinkle with the grated cheese.
- Put baking-dish in very hot oven and bake for about 5 minutes.
- Then serve.