“Beet Believer”

Beets.  Folks either love them or hate them.

Benjamin had a love/hate relationship with them a few weeks ago when we were inundated by a load of freshly harvested Bull’s Blood and Chioggia varietals.  “We’ve got to move some beets,” he told me.

As the Nutrition and SNAP Outreach Coordinator, it’s a regular pleasure to find recipes for the lovely produce that graces the Mobile Market.  I peruse books, blogs and internet recipe sites for inspiration.

Last week, we featured a Shredded Beet and Kale Salad with a Balsamic Vinaigrette at our SW Waterfront stop, to much success (we “moved some beets,” in a matter of speaking).  This week’s variation was even more popular — we used the beet greens and stems in lieu of the kale.  Market participants were pleasantly surprised after trying a sample, for many of them hadn’t know that you could cook the leafy greens.

Several people outright told us, “I don’t like beets.  Never have.”  After awhile, we realized that most market participants had only eaten canned beets growing up — those bland, overcooked slices floating in red liquid, oftentimes accompanying a public school lunch.

I was raised on whole, fresh cooked beets seasoned with butter and salt.  They were one of my favorite veggies.  I even liked smearing them around my mouth, coloring my lips red with the “lipstick.”  My sons enjoy juicing beets with carrots and fresh ginger as a tasty snack.

At our Wednesday stop at United Medical Center, I persuaded Tia, a first time market participant, to try the beet salad.  She said that it was good, better than the canned beets she’d eaten (and disliked) before.  She took her purchases and left, only to return moments later to buy a bunch of beets.  “You’ve made a beets believer out of me!” she said, holding the crimson roots by the stems. Once you try this dish, maybe you’ll be a convert, too!

Shredded Balsamic Beet & Kale (or Beet Green) Salad  
Serves four

  •          4 medium red beets (about 1 pound), peeled and shredded
  •          3 cups (packed) of thinly sliced kale leaves, OR
  •       3 cups beet greens and stems, sliced
  •       1 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  •         1 ½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  •         1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  •         2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  •         Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

In a large mixing bowl, toss together the beets and greens of choice. In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, and minced garlic. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Allow the salad to stand at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before serving.

JuJu’s Note:  Add some toasted pecans, goat cheese, or orange slices to jazz it up a bit!

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