WHAT’S FRESH, WHAT’S LOCAL: WINTER 2013-14

whatsFreshWin13
PHOTOGRAPH: MARISA MCCLELLAN

• Beets • Brussels Sprouts • Kale • Leeks • Parsnips
• Rutabagas • Turnips • Sweet Potatoes
• Winter Squash (acorn, butternut, spaghetti & more)

Apples, cabbages, cranberries, garlic, onions and other good keeping fruits and vegetables may also be available from storage.

And don’t forget about local meats, eggs, cheese, honey and preserves.

The winter my mother was pregnant with me, she didn’t crave pickles or ice cream. All she wanted was borscht—the classic beet soup. She bought the Manischewitz version and drank it cold, straight from the bottle. Thankfully, there are beets beyond bottled borscht.

Though the most common variety is a deep ruby red, both golden beets and a red-and-white-striped cultivar known as the Chioggia are becoming increasingly available, especially at farmers’ markets, even into the cold-weather months.

Native to the Mediterranean region, beets were originally grown for their greens. Th e root was used for medicinal purposes throughout history but didn’t begin to appear regularly on dining tables until the 19th century. In recent years, scientists have found that beets have antiinflammatory properties, are able to help lower blood pressure and generally have a positive impact on cardiac health.

But beets aren’t popular with home cooks for their health benefits alone. Th ey are hugely versatile in the kitchen. Th e most basic way to handle them is to give them a good scrub and pop them into a saucepan of water. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the beets are fork tender—about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on their size. Once they’re cool enough to handle, rub them gently under some cool running water until the skins fall away. Prepared this way , the beets can be pickled, sliced over salad greens, or tossed with a simple vinaigrette.

For those of us of with Eastern European heritage, there’s no more traditional preparation for beets than borscht. Th is seasonal soup is bright red and features carrots, potatoes, shreds of meat and plenty of cabbage. Serve it with a generous dollop of sour cream and fresh dill on chilly days.

RECIPES

Beet and Beef Borscht

Roasted Beet Dip

Grated Beet Salad

Beet and Potato Latkes

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