My sisters and I will on certain occasions repeat this phrase to each other: Indigo, Indigoing, Indigone. It's all because of a certain sensational author who lives in the northwest somewhere in or around Seattle. Probably a good thing I don't know exactly where because I might, in my wildest dreams, find myself ringing his doorbell and inviting myself in for a cocktail. It's probably not a unique thought, but a universal thought among women who read his novels. Based upon his writings, I imagine he gives great conversation (and there is no inuendo intended in this sentence, I'm sure). When things get tough, I remind myself to be a beet.
"At birth we are red-faced, round, intense, pure. The crimson fire of universal consciousness burns in us. Gradually, however, we are devoured by parents, gulped by schools, chewed up by peers, swallowed by social institutions, wolfed by bad habits, and gnawed by age; and by the time we have been digested, cow style, in those six stomachs, we emerge a single disgusting shade of brown.
The lesson of the beet, then, is this: hold on to your divine blush, your innate rosy magic, or end up brown. Once you're brown, you'll find that you're blue. As blue as indigo. And you know what that means:
~Tom Robbins (Jitterbug Perfume)
"The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious. The beet is the melancholy vegetable, the one most willing to suffer. You can't squeeze blood out of a turnip."
~Tom Robbins (Jitterbug Perfume)
It's not unusual for me to eat beets raw, first peeled and then quickly shredded atop a green salad. If I need cooked beets for a number of different presentations I choose not to boil or steam. Rather, my preference is to bake the beets. Baking condenses the natural sugars in the beets and in my humble opinion improves the flavor and texture of the root. The skins are left on for baking and a little boiling water is added to the pan. Cover the beets with a lid or seal tightly with foil and bake. Once the beets are cooked and cool enough to handle, I skin the beets and then cut into the appropriate shape for the final preparation.
You can make as few or as many beets as you need. You just need a baking dish that can fit the number of beets that you want to prepare. Once the beets are baked, I often slice the beets into rounds or half circles if the beets are large. I can then refrigerate the beets until ready to use, up to a day or two. If I want to serve the beets warmed, I'll melt butter in a non stick pan, add the beets and season with orange juice, a little raspberry vinegar, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Sometimes I'll throw in some fresh dill or minced parsley for additional flavor and added color. The beets are also terrific served in a salad, such as the Spinach Salad that I enjoy at the Cactus Club Cafe in Vancouver BC.
This recipe is adapted from The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. I see this cookbook in more home kitchens than any other cookbook. There's a reason.
red or yellow beets, leafy greens discarded or reserved for another use
large, shallow covered pot
baking dish and aluminum foil
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Trim the beets, leaving 1-inch of stem. rinse the beets well, but do not peel them.
3. Place the beets in a baking pan and fill the pan with 1/4-inch of water. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove the foil and bak until the beets are tender, another 15 to 30 minutes depending upon the size of the beets.
4. Allow the beets to cool slightly, then peel and slice or cut into wedges or bite size chunks.