Vegan MoFo Day One: ROOT DOWN, or How I Learned to Stop Gagging and Love the Beet

Beets. My first experience with beets was when I was fourteen and frequently tasked with cleaning and “refreshing” the salad bar at a local iteration of a Camelot themed pizza chain. Now nothing at a pizza chain salad bar tends to be particularly appetizing, unless of course you have a soft spot for rubbery broccoli, wilted iceberg lettuce or an odd jello salad polluted with baco-bits, kidney beans, and french dressing.

Now beets might not seem to compare to french dressing covered jello on the disgust level, but the jello wasn’t pretending to be a vegetable. Those wiggling red things that plopped their way out of a can every night in imitation of my dog’s dinner couldn’t possibly be natural. That they would be moved from a refrigerator in the morning and sent out to a salad bar where they would sit for hours, turning effectively into rubber, didn’t really help much either.

So a decade or so later, in a very different place and state of mind, and thinking very differently about food, I still felt a thudding dismay when a CSA box came packed with a big bunch of red beets. These weren’t at all how I remembered beets. They were dirty and full of crooked roots and hanging from a big plume of red veined leaves. I wasn’t sure what to do. I almost didn’t want to eat them at first, remembering those rubbery horrors from a past life. But I soon decided that the best way to overcome a youthful aversion was to tackle it head on and these were the first thing that I was going to prepare from that box.

I went to Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian, one of the first places I turn to when faced with an unfamiliar vegetable and jumped on the recipe for Beets with Greens in a horse radish dressing. Why not go all out and cook the whole thing all up at once? As I soon found out, Beets need not be strange jiggly blobs, but have all the complexities you’d expect from something that combines earthy with a dense sweetness. So by removing its association with the grim toil of an adolescent’s first job, I finally learned to love the beet.

Golden Beets from Capay Organics

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10 Responses to Vegan MoFo Day One: ROOT DOWN, or How I Learned to Stop Gagging and Love the Beet

  1. kittee says:

    so glad you have crossed over. i love beets. you can also use the greens to make saag. beets are sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo good. have you tried roasted beets yet? i have an awesome beet soup recipe –maybe from vegan planet, not positive. lemme know if you want it.

    xo
    kittee

  2. Kittee, yes I’ve had roasted beets. I like them roasted whole, but I LOVE cubing them and then roasting them ala this recipe: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/21/dining/21appe.html

  3. jaymoh says:

    Lovelovelove. excellent read!

    PS- I love even the red, rubbery canned blobs of beets. Never met a beet I didn’t like.

  4. mihl says:

    Ha, I used to hate beets, too. I am still not best friends with them. But I am trying.

  5. MeShell says:

    I’m glad you’ve gotten over your beet hate.

    I’ve never experienced it, I’m with jaymoh up there. I’ve never met one I didn’t like.

  6. Oh man, I will never forget having to pretend to choke down Borscht at family gatherings as I was a kid…I completely boycotted the beet for years though my curiosity was briefly piqued when the band on the TV show “Doug” was called The Beets (but then I remembered those red gelatinous slices and gagged).

    I’m still admittedly not the biggest fan of beets this day but I do enjoy some fresh roasted beets as well as sauteed beet greens now and again.

  7. I’m with Mihl. Still not a lover but not a hater either. Love your posts!

  8. Sarah (appifanie) says:

    I learned to love beets with the V’con autumn latkes and horseradish dill sauce and the gazborscht. Best things ever. I could eat those things every day and be super happy.

  9. I’ll have to try those. The thing is I never make enough recipes from V’Con. I think it’s because there are just so many and I always forget to mark things to try later.

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