Monday, May 10, 2010

Eat Your Beets

"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 a melancholy vegetable, the one most willing to suffer. You can't squeeze blood out of a turnip! The beet is the murderer returned to the scene of the crime. The beet is the ancient ancestor of the Autumn moon, bearded, buried, all but fossilized. The beet was Rasputin's favorite vegetable. You could see it in his eyes."

-Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

It seemed like perfect beet planting weather-uncharacteristically cool for May, with intermittent drizzle and dark skies ominously threatening a late Spring snowstorm. I had planned to take the children out after the morning work period to do a little beet planting (two varieties of beets- traditional Italian Chioggia and the small, carrot-esque, Danish Cylindria variety) followed by tasting a beet dish-in this case, a Cold Beet, Blood Orange, and Chevre Salad.
The children seemed enthused enough about doing the Practical Life food preparation tasks that I had set out during the morning work period (juicing oranges for the vinaigrette and whisking together the emulsion), but, to be honest, my confidence began to wane when I showed the children a whole beet and not one knew the name of this strange looking vegetable.
For a split second it occurred to me: perhaps children do not like beets.

Nevertheless, we went out to the garden and sowed several rows of seeds,

returned to the classroom to finish our preparations by carefully slicing some freshly roasted beets, and went to enjoy our snack on the patio picnic table.

The verdict: well, I will allow the clean plates and crimson lips to speak for themselves!

Cold Beet & Blood Orange Salad
3 large beets, roasted
2T Raspberry Vinegar
1 Large Blood Orange
3T Olive Oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
black pepper
1/4 log of chevre, crumbled
Quarter beets, sprinkle with olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast in a 400 degree oven until tender (about 30 minutes). Allow to cool, then cut into bite sized pieces.
Cut orange in half. Supreme half the orange and set aside. Combine vinegar, salt, pepper, and juice and zest of the other half of the orange. Slowly whisk in olive oil until dressing emulsifies.
Combine beets, chevre, orange supremes, and dressing. Chill.

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