Beets are our ruby star.
Tips and recipes with photos.
Material provided by the magazine "Gastronom".
We think it's time to update your ideas about beets. Gastronomically, we are all hostages of tradition to a large extent. But beets are perhaps the most innovative vegetable!
In my family, beets were cooked in three of the most patriarchal types: borscht, vinaigrette and an appetizer - grated with garlic and prunes. I adore these unpretentious tastes and, without hesitation, continue the tradition. But at some point, my predecessors in the female line stopped blushing beets on their cheeks? (Although, perhaps, they stopped in vain: beet juice refreshes the complexion, and also increases hemoglobin in the blood and therefore restores strength - weakened people are recommended to drink it three times a day before meals.) The history of beets is generally a history of innovation. If at a certain moment someone did not dare to take an unusual step, we would be eating one tops now. However, where does the neglect in the voice come from? Both ordinary beet tops and leaf beet (chard) are a real delicacy, food for those who understand.
Actually, they began to plant the vegetable for the sake of leaves. Then someone tried a root vegetable for a tooth and realized that this would also work. At first, the root was thin, like that of parsley, and only through the efforts of home-grown breeders, the beets turned into these round, semicircular, cylindrical beets - there are no such beets in the wild, so beets are entirely the result of human labor. True, it was a very long time ago: frescoes depicting beets were found even on the walls of the city of Pompeii destroyed by Vesuvius. For example, the leaves were soaked in wine by the ancient Romans and seasoned with pepper.
Today, Swiss chard is served as an exquisite side dish. In Moscow catering, it is poorly represented, and I am always very happy if I see on the menu a baked duck breast with beet leaves and pesto sauce, a soup with the sweet name botvinya or an Ossetian saharajin pie with tops (it is finely chopped, mixed with a lot of cheese and stuffed with this, in the manner of khachapuri, a thin wide pie).
Diet-oriented people also respect chard - it has more fiber than sorrel, watercress or spinach, but its fiber, as stated in one book about weight loss, ranks first in terms of neutralizing effect (fewer calories). Swiss chard is eaten in the same way as spinach: either fresh in salads, or in any stewed or boiled form (stew both by itself and with other vegetables). The French make from it a kind of stuffed cabbage, in the Caucasus they cook amazing phali, the Arabs spice it up with raisins and pine nuts. But I should try to soak it in wine and season it with pepper, what do you think?
We, they and the beets
My foreign friends - all without exception - know one word in Russian: "borscht". Therefore, for them, beets are among the products that represent our tastes on the world stage: together with cottage cheese, black bread and black caviar. Although this moment - why beets are associated specifically with Russian cuisine - is still incomprehensible to me. Beets are unusually good: both for their peculiar, rich sweetish taste, and for the fact that they contain a lot of vitamins - from iodine to the recently discovered vitamin U (helps to heal stomach ulcers). Scientists even argue that beets are a stronger aphrodisiac than oysters or ginger: they contain more boron, which provokes desire hormones in our body.If we consider that all these benefits in beets tend to persist better than in other vegetables, especially if the first frost picks up the fruit, it becomes incomprehensible how practical and health-conscious foreigners can neglect it.
Okay: The Italians have come up with an immortal combination of boiled, diced beetroot and goat cheese. It turns out to be one of the most refined salads in the world - if, moreover, it is supplemented with a dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey and pine nuts. But in Italian, as in other European stores, you don't often find freshly picked beets - more and more in jars, pickled, or already peeled, in a vacuum. And she, like a potato, has to do with the skin, and therefore it is advised to cook it in unsalted water, "in a uniform" and with a spine. (By the way, the thinner the tail of the beet, the more ripe it is.)
For example, Koreans, with their characteristic sophistry, eat beets cooked in a decoction of caraway seeds, grated horseradish, with salt and sugar (then the broth is turned into jelly). And it is quite possible that they are the ones responsible for the sauces that go well with this vegetable: for example, orange-lemon-ginger, which is also seasoned with pepper, sugar, apple and honey. However, you don't have to be Korean to feel this: the simplicity of beets is brilliantly set off by tastes like honey, apple and lemon (lemon juice, in particular, helps to maintain its vibrant color).
The Scandinavians, perhaps earlier than us, began to combine beets and herring: to this day, a salad of grated beets, chopped herring, pickled cucumbers, potatoes, carrots, grated horseradish and eggs, seasoned with mayonnaise, is considered a must for any meal.
A vegetarian - this is no matter what nationality - can’t go through life without beets: it is combined with any vegetables (fortified morning salads), with cheese (um, bake!), With dried fruits and nuts, with garlic, with yogurt and cottage cheese, with rice. Not without the participation of the latter, a wonderful stuffed beet is prepared: the core is removed from the boiled fruit and filled with rice pulp, flavored with apple pieces, butter and sugar. Or - pear, tomatoes and horseradish. Then pour everything with sour cream and bake. (But if the principles allow you to try a beetroot-crispy bacon combination, don't take away the fun ...)
However, let us return to the Slavs: borscht made beets famous throughout the world. The most surprising thing in the history of "red" soup is that there are about as many variants of it as there are housewives: I, in any case, did not have to try two identical borscht. It is a well-known fact that only in Ukraine (although borscht is considered a national dish in Russia, Belarus, Poland, Romania and Lithuania, Ukraine can still be called the copyright holder) about forty varieties. These forty recipes have dozens of items: the basis of the soup, the ingredients (from mushrooms and beans to zucchini and turnips), the method of cutting vegetables (into strips, cubes, slices, finely, coarsely, whole), additional components, on a separate plate - donuts, dumplings, pancakes, millet or buckwheat porridge ("today we have married borsch"). And, perhaps, the most important thing is the moment of laying beets. In our family, it comes when all other vegetables have already slightly boiled: beets, chopped and fried separately with garlic and herbs, are added to vegetable soup; in an instant it becomes ruby red - and turns into borscht. You can add cabbage and chopped herbs a little later.
Out of season
As you know, in most dishes, beets are sent ready-made. Meanwhile, not everyone knows that beets for vinaigrette, herring "under a fur coat", salads and side dishes are best not boiled, but baked in the oven: then it retains a richer color and taste, turns out less watery and remains very useful. This process is also slow - the stubborn vegetable is baked for at least an hour. Remember to cover it with foil to reduce evaporation. And, by the way, it will be tastier if baked in olive oil, salt and pepper.
And then you can cook anything from this beet: from carpaccio (two of its tricks are to cut into thin slices and make a good dressing), from exotic salads, in which our simple Russian root vegetable sounds in a new way in combination with grapefruit pulp and, for example , avocado, to beetroot mashed potatoes with lamb shank with rosemary or even dessert. For example, beet cakes are made: grated beets are mixed with cream, cottage cheese, eggs, dried fruits and nuts are added, and then baked and served hot with sweet sour cream sauce. If you are lazy, then you can bake beets with cheese, garlic and mayonnaise - and serve an unusual side dish with meat or fish.
We still have to live and live with beets - after all, it does not leave us with the arrival of cold weather. Until then, in September, you can celebrate the last warm days with cold soups - perhaps a signature beetroot dish. Cooking beetroot (khlodnik, beetroot okroshka, botvinia) is as easy as shelling pears baked or boiled with the tops, cut a cucumber, steep egg, radish, chop dill, pour beet broth (or yogurt), salt, add lemon juice Those who wish can endlessly complicate the recipe by fermenting the beet broth with bread kvass, adding nettles and quinoa, various vegetables or even, as Pokhlebkin advises, red fish. In general, as in all other cases, you can fantasize endlessly, leaving the only ingredient unchanged. After all, remove the beets from any of the above dishes - and absolutely nothing will come of it.