The beautiful bulbous beetroot is this week’s veggie! While deep-red or deep-purple coloured beets are generally more familiar to us, beets come in a variety of colours, such as yellow and white. There is even a striped variety, appropriately called “candy cane”. Beets come from the same family as rainbow chard or Swiss chard, and if you were to bite into the crisp stem of the latter you would be able to taste the familial bond.
The long history and importance of beets for many human societies have been recorded across ancient texts. While the beet as we know it today began to be cultivated in 16th and 17th century Europe, these colourful root veggies have been with us for far longer. According to old Assyrian texts, beets – i.e., an ancestor of our modern variety – were allegedly cultivated in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon as early as 800BC. In ancient Greek society, the leaves were regularly used for healing and the Greek physician Hippocrates (460-370 BC) recommended beets for binding wounds, cleansing the blood, and treating digestive problems. The ancient Romans, on the other hand, were the first to begin cultivating beets as a source of food.
Since then, beets have become hugely popular across the world. They are generous, with every part, including the leaves, being edible. They are nutritious, rich in nutrients, fibers, and many beneficial plant compounds. Finally, they are easy to prepare. They are delicious pickled, boiled, oven baked or even eaten raw. This week’s recipe – borscht – provides an idea of how beets can be cooked. It’s a traditional dish, popular in many parts of Easter Europe. Enjoy!
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 medium onion
- 2 medium carrots
- 1 large beet
- 1 large red capsicum
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 1/2 qt water
- 3 medium potatoes
- 1/4 head of medium cabbage
- 1/2 cup fresh dill or parsley
- 1 tbsp salt adjust to taste
- 1 tsp black pepper adjust to taste
- Dice the capsicum and onions into tiny cubes. Shred the cabbage and dice the potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Next, grate the carrots and beets. Set the veggies aside.
In a large pot, sauté the carrots and onions with around 5 tablespoons of oil until they turn golden brown. Add the beets and capsicum to the carrots and onions and cook them until they soften. Stir in sour cream and stir to combine.
Add water to the cooked veggies. Next, add in the herbs of your choice, followed by the potatoes and cabbage. Season the borscht with salt and pepper.
Let the borscht simmer for about 20-30 minutes, or until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.