Mmmm...... beets were never love at first bite for me. I grew up knowing that my Dad would eat just about anything but beets. As a result I saw very few in my childhood. The much-maligned beet seemed both repulsive and alluring. Repulsive, of course, because if my Dad, a scoffer at expiration dates, eater of mixed up leftovers, a regular 'tip-the-table-my-way-gristle-chewer' guy wouldn't eat it, well then something must be dreadfully wrong. Alluring, though, in an exotic, eastern-block kind of way. Alluring, mostly because the vegetable was never served in my house.
Alluring enough to eat, yes, but not really to enjoy. I dutifully ate my beets as an adult, and tried various salads and roasting methods to increase their appeal, but alas my palate was formed by my parents' tastes, and I admit that occasionally the beet made me nearly gag.
Until I discovered that for me, beets belong in soup. It started about 5 summers ago, when I was on a homemade yogurt kick, and I made a cold beet and yogurt soup. Fresh dill, cumin, salt, pepper, yogurt and beets. Heaven. It looked like a bowl of paint, but tasted like a creamy delight. I was sold, and I bought fresh beets whenever they were available.
But one can only eat so much of said soup. It's strong in flavor and packs a large dairy punch. This fall I re-discovered an old cooking favorite of mine: The Moosewood Cookbook. In it is the most spectacular beet recipe I've ever encountered. Beet Cabbage Borscht. It's sweet. It's subtle. It's lovely. And unlike the Beet Yogurt Soup, it's not very beety or strong. It's actually a sweet and mild soup. Add a dollop of yogurt and it's sweet, mild, and creamy. The beets lend the soup a touch of earthiness and an incredible color. But the carrots, potato, and celery keep this soup well within the range of familiar. The cabbage adds lightness, texture, and heartiness (not to mention vitamin C). But what really makes this soup addictive is the combination of a wee bit of cider vinegar and a wee bit of honey. My toddler begs for it. Literally.
He didn't seem to inherit one bit of my family's aversion. Not only does he gobble up the soup (with the exception of the cabbages whose texture he does not appreciate), he also requests raw beet slices as I am making it. The beet juice looks rather gruesome, true, but I think that the messier babies have more fun.
So, if you are beet-averse and want to be coaxed out of this darkness, leave me a comment and I will send you the recipe for Beet Cabbage Borscht. Or, if you are in the neighborhood, stop in (I just made a quadruple batch). If after eating it you are still unmoved, I will hound you no longer.