This morning I traipsed down to the market to indulge my latest obsession: beets. I had read this New York Times article extolling their nutritional virtues when I found myself standing in front of a giant pile of cooked beetsin the market one day. Their skins were drooping off, exposing deep ruby flesh that gleamed in the sun and looked strange heaped among the firm, self-sufficient peppers, onions, and potatoes. It seemed like some kind of health code violation to have a pile of cooked vegetables sitting out on the lid of a wooden crate.
As I pondered the beets, a little old lady came up at my elbow and softly asked the shopkeeper for "the usual." As she waited for her selected beet to be tied up in plastic, I asked her how she planned to prepare it. After a quick beet tutorial, she added, "They're very good. She makes them herself." I looked at the woman behind the stall. She looked like my mom. I figured it was inevitable, and bought one.
My love for my beet started as I began to cut it up. Have you ever tried cutting a fresh cooked beet? The knife slips through it. I tossed my little gem-like cubes of beet with canned corn and added a few chopped up slices of ham. A splash of mustard vinaigrette and I had a decent-looking salad. The next day the juice from the beets had turned the entire salad hot pink. It looked like something from the 1960's and tasted delicious. The cool sweetness of the beet and corn was scrumptious against the ham and the tang of the mustard dressing.
These babies are a little on the pricey side, so I don’t get them that often (actually, it’s more because I’m too lazy to wake up early to go to the market). It keeps them special, though. Today’s beet is going in with corn, mustard dressing, and fresh grated carrots. Mmmmmm. In fact, I was so excited about the beet before this one, I was moved to poetry:
A beet! A beet! A tasty treat! Its flesh is cool, its flesh is sweet. Its ruby juice: an artistic feat, And nutrients keep you on your feet. A beet! A beet! A tasty treat!
When my brother Dave was here, admiration for this jewel of a vegetable moved him to song:
We’ve got the beet, We’ve got the beet, We’ve got the beet, yeah, We’ve got the beet!
You probably think we're crazy. I'm not going to argue with you. But I still recommend you try fresh beets as soon as you get a chance.