Author's note: Garnet yams have mahogany skins that yield bright orange flesh. They are not interchangeable with pale-skinned sweet potatoes, which tend to have a much dried flesh and are...
Beets are one of those foods that spark debate. As the saying goes, you either love them or you hate them, and I know both sorts of people. But I've also learned that it matters a great deal how you cook things. For instance, Brussels sprouts have come into vogue in recent years after the groundbreaking discovery that you don't have to boil them. You can roast them and sauté them and shred them and pickle them...et Voilà! A bunch of people love Brussels sprouts!
The same can easily be said of beets. For my parents and grandparents, beets were pickled or served sweet and sour--in both cases, boiled. My mother hates beets. But the first time I prepared a roasted vegetable dish for her and threw in some beets, she loved them. It was a departure from the slimy, overcooked beets of her youth, and that was enough.
And mostly, this is what I do with beets--I roast them. It's my default. But occasionally, when I want something different, I'll serve them raw. I know what you're thinking--you're not sure about beets to begin with, and eating them raw is a bit frightening. Heard. But before you click away to the next blog, let me plead a case for raw beets.
Now that we're transitioning into fall, a lot of heavy foods are on the menu. I appreciate the change, but I still want good salads. I'm not talking about romaine or iceberg either. I want seasonal salads that I can really sink my teeth into.
Eating this salad is not at all like biting into a beet. It's subtle and refined and balanced, and it's pretty darn healthy to boot. It's both raw and vegan, but if you really wanted to round it out you could add crumbled goat cheese or feta. This salad is perfect on top of a bed of spring mix or shredded kale, and it's really nice alongside the richer foods we eat this time of year.
I don't expect to convert all of you to the beet-loving camp, but I do hope to at least jump-start your tastebuds. Beets. They're not just for pickles.
Wash, peel, and cut off the root end of:
2 medium-sized beets (about 8 ounces)
Shred the beets on the large holes of a box grater. Combine in a bowl with:
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice
A 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated or minced
Zest of one small lemon
Cayenne pepper to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Serve over salad greens or shredded kale. If desired, top with:
Crumbled goat cheese or feta