Sunday, June 21, 2009


The beets are in.
I'd say it's pretty rewarding to venture out to the patch and pluck up these hardy roots. Perhaps more than their above-ground neighbors, beets, carrots and radishes seem to give me the most sense of wonder. I suppose since I can't see what's going on down there I am naturally curious and genuinely giddy when I can finally see what they've been up to for so many weeks...
Good job, beets - way to grow!
Mixed Beet Salad with Anise Hyssop
(adapted from the recipe for Red and Golden Beets with Anise Hyssop from Deborah's Madison's book: Local Flavors)

6 medium Chioggia beets
6 medium Detroit Dark Red beets
olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 a medium red onion, sliced into very thin rounds (use a mandoline if available)
1 1/2 Tb. Champagne vinegar
1 large sprig of flat-leaf parsley
1 large sprig of anise hyssop

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine the sliced onions and vinegar in dish, sprinkle with salt and refrigerate while you prepare the beets.

Wash, trim and peel the Chioggia beets. Quarter them and place them in a shallow roasting pan. Toss with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle with just a pinch of salt. Roast the beets in the oven just until fork tender - about 35 minutes, depending on their size. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

While the Chioggia beets are roasting, wash and steam the Detroit Dark Red beets until fork tender - about 35 minutes, depending on their size. Place the cooked beets in a colander and run cold water over them until cool, rubbing the skins off as you rinse. Trim and thinly slice the peeled beets into rounds.

Layer the sliced Detriot Dark Red beets on a platter, scatter the quartered Chioggia beets over them. Top the beets with the onion slices and pour a bit of the soaking vinegar over the dish. Finely chop the parsley and hyssop to garnish the salad. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. If you have them, scatter over the top a few hyssop blossoms or nasturtium flowers to finish the dish.


smoo said...

I love the photo of the chioggia beets!

Chelsea said...

I can't tell you how many photos I took - they're just too cool!

Thanks ;)

Yeon said...

Pulling those root veggies are always fun! Especially when you don't remember which variety of carrot/beet/radish you are pulling!

The dish looks awesome. I love roasted beets. I am trying to image having roasted beets and steamed beets in one dish. Can I just roast them all?

Callipygia said...

what gorgeous specimens you have. I love the look of the chioggia but don't care for the taste as much as the single hued ones. Never heard of anise hyssop, but it sounds intriguing!

Chelsea said...

Yeon - Of course, it would be perfectly fine (and probably more efficient) to roast all the beets. I had two reasons for preparing mine separately: Firstly, I wanted the Chioggias to maintain their stripes - when they (or golden beets) are cooked with red beets, that intense red tends to saturate the other beets. Secondly, my red beets were larger and by steaming them, I found it easier to slice them into rounds rather than quarters for textural/visual contrast. Personal preference...

Callipygia - That's interesting. I seem to favor golden beets above all, but to me the flavor differences are usually quite subtle.
As for anise hyssop - it's a hardy edible perennial with lovely purple blossoms and a pleasant anise flavor. (It is also said to be a deer deterrent which is one reason I keep it.)
I would think that tarragon would be a good substitute if needed. (I just went out to do a taste-test, and they are quite similar)

Lucy said...

I've wondered about the flavour of anise hyssop for some time; looked lovingly at that recipe (don't you just love that Madison book?) and wished for pretty beetroot to make it with. Lovely, really lovely shots.

And new banner is perfect - sorry to hear 'bout those naughty deer. We have possums which, like racoons I imagine (though nowhere near as cute), that thwart my gardening, but for some reason they're staying away this winter.

Through My Kitchen Window said...

I couldn't agree with you more about root veggies. I feel a real sense of anticipation as I extract them with awe and wonder and sometimes I gasp at the size or colour or shape of what I see. And I love the soil still clinging to the vegetable. It makes me feel really connected to the earth or something. I love beetroot and yours look divine. Im so envious right now.

Chelsea said...

Lucy - thank you; I am loving the Madison book. I think I've been in need of some new (to me) perspectives in vegetarian cooking - a revitalization, I suppose. It feels quite nice.
If you come across it, the anise hyssop is a nice addition to an herb bed (or flower bed) - both culinarily and visually.

Mariana - Connected to the earth. Absolutely. No matter how many times I grow a tomato, for instance, I never stop marveling at its progression. Seed, sprout, plant, fruit, then to seed again. I love being a part of that.