Last week I bought some lovely beets at the farmer’s market, and made a by-now familiar dish with them, which my husband and I enjoyed very much. My children, however, were very put off and refused to touch it. That’s actually sort of unusual for my kids, so I went ahead and asked my readers where they stand on beets, just to find out if everyone’s reaction is either love or hate. The answers were interesting, and made me realize there was a learning opportunity ahoy.The next week—this week—I went to the farmer’s market for some more beets, determined to find the preparation that would tempt the kids. And next to the regular beets, I found these ones I’d not seen before. Chioggia beets (motto: A lot easier to say than to spell). They’re a lighter color, more pinky-red than deep purple. I asked the man tending the stand to tell me about them, and he said they’re a bit milder in taste, and striped on the inside. Sold! Milder taste sounded like a good place to start. We got to chatting a bit and I told him how my kids wouldn’t eat the beets from the previous week, and he said, “Now, you know you can cook up the beet greens, too, right?”
I actually hadn’t known that. Greens are very big here in the south, but I wasn’t raised here and they’re not something I ever cook. (We eat a lot of spinach and chard, but generally either raw or in smoothies.) The gentleman was kind enough to explain to me how to sautee them, and suggested I dress them only with a bit of salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast. “That’s how my kids like ‘em,” he said. Okay, then.I was ready for success. I was pretty sure the candy-striped beets would tempt my daughter the sweet tooth, and my son is practically a spinach addict, so even if he still shunned the beets, I reasoned he’d probably eat the greens. (Also—truth be told—I was thrilled to be using the entire vegetable. I’d felt guilty last week when I threw the greens into the compost.)
So the first thing I learned about beet greens is that they are DIRTY. It seemed like we washed them and rinsed them and spun them forever before they appeared to be free of dirt. I thought chard was hard to clean, but this was worse because I boneheadedly chopped the greens before I remembered to wash them. Oops. Once washed, though, they did exactly what I expected them to do, which is to say that I heaped them up into my cast iron…… and then…
… they promptly cooked down from what had looked like a giant bowl of greens to what looked like half a serving of decaying seaweed. Yum!
I tasted it while it cooked. I had tried to treat it the same way as I have chard on the few occasions when I’ve bothered to sautee it, which is to say that I did the leaves and a fair portion of the stems. Biiiiiig mistake. The stems are bitter. Really bitter. Yeccch. The leaves were pretty good, though.
I mean, I thought they were.
One child did wander into the kitchen while I was cooking to lovingly inquire, “What smells?”
So.The beets themselves were easy enough. I roasted the same way I always do, and they did indeed come out striped and pretty.
So what was the verdict?
I ate both beets and greens. I was not wild about the greens, but I would try them again without the stems, I think. I may have a slight preference for the chioggias over regular beets, but that may just because I think the stripes are pretty.
My husband ate both, but I don’t think he liked the greens. Also, he prefers conventional beets.
My daughter ate her beets and asked for seconds. She also said, “These are good, why didn’t you tell me?” and I didn’t even smack her, so that was good.
My son ate a small piece of beet but politely declined more. I’d been sure he would love the greens and he said, “Do I have to eat these? They taste kind of… ummm… well… terrible.” So.
The whole experience may have given me a bit more knowledge, but I also think I gained a few more wrinkles.
And speaking of wrinkles (see what I did there?), I am very busy trying to pack for a cruise. A cruise where there is a dress code for dinner. So a friend pointed out this awesome piece on packing to me, and I have since switched from folding my clothes to rolling them into weird little bundles. Pro: More is fitting in the suitcase. Con: I strongly suspect I will spend the entire cruise looking like I just rolled out from under my bed. We shall see.
There you go. Who else is going to give you beets and packing tips all in the same post? Never say I never gave you anything, people.