One especially elusive vegetable, I’ve been told, is the beet. Those mysterious thick skinned bulbs and jagged dark green leaves – what can be done with them? They don’t even look edible. So not true.

 

Practically everything from a beet can be used. Not only can the bulbs be prepared in many delicious ways, the leaves can be sautéed, stir fried, juiced or wilted. The root is full of iron and can be eaten raw or cooked. And the dark leafy greens (as we’re all told are so good for us) are full of calcium and other good stuff. The juice from a raw beet is very sweet and can be great in conjunction with juices like spinach, carrot, parsley or any other molecularly powerful liquid that can be extracted from the garden. If you’re into juicing, you could also juice an apple or pear and a bit of ginger to mellow the edges a bit.

 

My friend recently boiled some beets with the skins still on. She made a great beet salad, of course, but used the left over water to die a drab off-white silk scarf a warm camel-color. The blood red juice (from the root and veins of the leaves) can also stain Easter eggs (though they’re not really in season so early in the Spring) and fingers, among other things.

 

You can plant beets as seeds -- our garden has some that have been growing a while and are big red balls right now and there are some seedlings that are just sprouting now. There’s always a demand for them, so planting in waves helps keep a steady yield coming.

 

Here are two easy suggestions (one raw, the other cooked) that use the same ingredients, pretty much, but offer very different taste sensations:

 

 

Edie’s Beet & Potato Salad

 

Bearing in mind that nothing is really measured…

 

The marinade is about ¾ cup vegetable (not olive) oil

¼ cup vinegar

Chopped garlic

Salt & Pepper.

 

Roast the beets (in their jackets – it makes for easier peeling) and the potatoes (new potatoes are best for salad) with a bit of olive oil at the bottom of the roasting pan and some salt. The oven’s at about 350-400 degrees. As they are cooking, toss a couple of times so that the oil and salt cook in. Roast until they have some give – they should not be soft – that would make for a very mushy salad experience.

 

Let them cool off. Peel the beets when they are cool enough to handle, but not cold. You can slice or leave whole. Toss with the marinade. There won’t be any leftovers...!

 

The next thing is my favorite, which is just roasting them. For this, I do peel the beets first so that the pieces can be baked into other veggies and I won’t have to do it later (psychological, I’m sure). Anyway, the same ingredients: beets and potatoes. But for the roast, I use all kinds of potatoes that are in the garden right now and I also include onions (peeled and quartered) , whole (peeled) garlic cloves and peeled shallots, which are also in season. Throw them all in a roasting pan with olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh rosemary. Toss them a few times as they are cooking. Put them into a big bowl and put them on the table, never to be seen again.

 

Sooooo good.