|First harvest of beets|
My first plantings were chewed to the ground by some hungry pests (earwigs?) and I almost gave up, but then I saw a six-pack of beet seedlings at the nursery and realized I might have better luck if I started my seeds in the greenhouse where they were more protected from bugs. I had thought since they were root vegetables, they needed to be seeded directly into the dirt, but that's not the case with beets. My transplants did very well, so from now on that's how I'll grow them.
|Tiny beet seedlings back in March|
I've never bought beets at the store--mostly because Mr. English said he wouldn't touch them with a ten foot pole--but for a long time we got a weekly CSA box from Terra Firma Farm that sometimes included beets, so we were forced to start experimenting with them. (That's one of the great things about a CSA box--it pushes you to try new things!) I will admit that, especially in the early years of our CSA subscription, the beets often languished in the fridge for weeks on end until I finally threw them in the compost pile.
|Beets thriving in a wine barrel|
Then one day I made borscht and it turned out that, surprise, the entire family liked it! I suspect it had less to do with the beets and more to do with the pretty pink color and the massive dollop of sour cream on top. For a couple of years that was the only beet dish I knew how to make. The turning point in our family's relationship with beets was the day I found a recipe for beet cake, with generous amounts of cream cheese frosting (think carrot cake, but with beets).
|Kid-approved beet cake with cream cheese frosting|
Yesterday I took a fantastic ravioli making class and found a new use for beets: beet pasta. The pasta consisted solely of roasted beets, flour and a touch of olive oil. The color was stunning and the flavor was surprisingly mild. I will definitely be making this at home soon! Incidentally, the class was part of a series of spring food craft classes offered by Slow Food Yolo; there are two more in the series, so check out their website if you're interested.
|Beet pasta ravioli with smoked salmon|
These days I look for more ways to include beets in our diet, because I know they are both tasty and super healthy, especially the tops, called "beet greens". Turns out beets are also great for the digestive tract (you'll have to ask me later how I know that). And the great thing is, they are very easy to grow and are relatively quick from seed to table.
Do you grow beets in the garden? Have any beet-phobes in the household?