Marching to the beet of the season, from Shabbat borscht to Superbowl nosh
In her new blog, Vered Guttman praises the beet: sweet, full of taste, and cheap, perfect for soups, salads, and even chips.
A search for borscht recipes yields countless variations, as this beet soup was popular for centuries all over Eastern Europe and among different nations. Just how difficult is it to decide on one version of borscht? Take a look at my friend Masha’s Russian Jewish family:
Her aunt Ira from Moscow makes a hot borscht using beef, turkey or chicken. Grandmother Eva from Minsk made it cold and sweet with cherries. Her great-grandmother Tzinia and all of her off-springs made it more tart and blended in raw egg (as my Polish mother did for Passover every year), and then they served it with sour cream. And her great-grandmother Salia from Poland served it hot with a boiled potato on the side (a version which is still Masha’s favorite… not that Tzinia’s side of the family needs to know about it).
And I’m not even getting into the sweet and sour beet soup in which my Iraqi grandmother used to cook her kibbeh.
Beets are in season now, and they are sweet, full of taste, and cheap. This is just another reason for us to use this beautiful vegetable, which is full of antioxidants, fiber and vitamins and low on calories and fat.
Beets are rich in betalains, which provide the antioxidant and anti inflammatory benefits. The betalains reduce significantly with long cooking, so you’ll do yourself an even greater favor if you roast or cook your beets until they’re just ready, or better yet, eat them raw. Fortunately, they can still taste delicious this way, as I hope you will see for yourself when trying today’s recipe for raw beets, gorgonzola and mâche salad.
One of the best things about beets, besides their earthy sweet flavor and gorgeous color, is their greens. And I am always happy to see that so many stores now keep the beet greens attached. It’s like getting two vegetables for the price of one.
I use the beet greens in today’s winter borscht recipe and I also use them for my grandmother’s beet soup with kibbeh. You can add them to any of your spinach recipes, for a deeper, slightly bitter taste. And to celebrate one of my favorite American holidays (second only to Thanksgiving), the Superbowl, I made beet greens chips.
Do you want to convince your kids to eat beets too, and to enjoy their taste and the health benefits they provide? Read this scientific article to them. The more they eat the better it gets. My kids fight over beets!
For more recipes, check out Food and Wine on Haaretz.com
Vered Guttman is a caterer and a food writer based in Washington DC. Growing up in Israel she took her first lessons in Jewish cooking sitting at the tables of her two grandmothers, one from Poland, the other from Iraq. In Modern Manna, Vered will share a mix of new Israeli trends and old Jewish traditions, sprinkled with a distinct Sephardic flavor. Follow Vered on Twitter @veredguttman