Friday, August 5, 2016

#Meatfreeweek-- Beets... Sweet!

This week is Meat- Free Week-- a dynamic awareness and fundraising campaign that motivates action, back for its second year in the UK and fourth year in Australia! Meat-Free Week gives people the perfect opportunity to try out new plant-based foods, get more fruits and veggies in their meals and see whether a meat-reduced diet is for them, even if it’s just one day a week or one week a year. For vegetarians and vegans, the campaign provides a great chance to share some of their favourite meat free recipes with friends and family – all for a wonderful cause!

Today I am talking about wonderful beets!! Deep, ruby-red in colour, beetroots add a vibrant hue and flavour to dishes, and these days you can find them golden yellow, white and even candy cane chioggia (striped pink red and white)! Raw, steamed, boiled, roasted, pickled and even-stir-fried it is wonderfully nutritious as it is deliciously versatile and adds a satisfying sweetness to every dish. From grated into salads, sandwiches to relishes and soups, welcome beets onto your family table and enjoy its sweet splendour. Beetroot contains calcium, iron and vitamins A and C-- all at their highest level when eaten raw. 

When purchasing look for relatively smooth (unblemished), hard and round beets with deep colour. At least half an inch of the stems should remain or the colour will bleed from the tops. If greens are attached, look for bright, fresh dark green leaves. Cut off these greens leaving 1-inch of steam attached before storage. No need to peel or clean the root-- the skins slip off easily after cooking. Common beets are deep red and contain a powerful dye-- betacyanin which stains fingers, cutting boards and cloths a brilliant magenta. You can use disposable gloves and a non-porous plate or cutting board such as glass for a working surface so not to stain.

Some flavour affinities are basil, dill, goat cheese, herring, horseradish, orange, potatoes, sour cream, spinach, tarragon, vinegar and yogurt.

Below are some ways I've made them and I'm looking to expand my beet recipe repertoire. My brother Dan has been adopting a less-meat diet for health reasons and he tells me beets is a top food of choice. He eats it frequently and enjoys them boiled whole, peeled, sliced, cooled and drizzled with a bit of vinegar, and serves it as a kind of pickled side with his meals. My kids enjoy their tender texture and sweetness.

The first is beet carpaccio. Cooked chilled sliced beets (or slice paper thin for the carpaccio-effect), good EVOO, good aged balsamic vinegar, fresh chopped dill and coarse sea salt or fleur de sel. One word... divine!

Beet Carpaccio

The Rainbow Wrap, Jamie's champion recipe from Food Revolution Day 2014, gave my young kids a chance to try beets for the first time. Grated into a mixture with carrots, pear and herbs, one son enjoyed it, another gave it a try and my youngest had fun making it! Get kids involved in the cooking and they will likely eat it or eventually give it a try! Click to read the Post.

Jamie's Rainbow Salad Wrap

Classic Ukrainian Borsch beet soup with tomatoes as the base, grated beets, carrots, cabbage, potatoes and the addition of kidney beans! So delicious with a swirl of mayonnaise or sour cream. Beautiful, hearty and satisfying!

Ukrainian Borsch

One of the great perks working as a lunch coach with Real Food For Real Kids (RFRK) is that we get to bring home leftovers that were not served at our respective schools. No waste! Shredded raw rainbow vegetables (beets & coloured carrots) for a spinach salad lgets the creative treatment cooked up in a home-style Japanese comfort dish-- Simmered Beef and Tofu! The sweet flavours complimented the savoury and sweet dish very well. 

Sauteing shredded vegetables for a simmered dish. 

I was thrilled to have my lovely friend and fellow Food Revolution Super Ambassador Terri Salminen share with me on a previous guest post on making authentic Italian risotto. In it, she recounts step-by-step details interwoven with personal anecdotes and success tips on how risotto can be made at home without being overly complicated, using fresh ingredients in season and with love of course! Beets imparts such a beautiful deep magenta colour!

Terri Saminen's Red Beet Risotto

Will you take the Meat-Free Week challenge?

Photo Credit: Food Revolution

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