Beet Recipes

March is the month when gardeners begin starting seeds inside and eating the last of the vegetables stored in their root cellars. They’re called “root” cellars for a reason, because roots, like carrots, rutabagas, storage radishes (such as daikon) and beets, are what keep there best.

This is because most root vegetables are designed for a winter of storage below ground. They’re biennials; that is, they live for two years. The first season, they turn out leaves above ground for photosynthesis, and large swollen tubers below ground in which to store energy for the following year. If left in place or replanted in spring, these tubers would send up flowers in their second year of growth, go to seed, and, having reproduced successfully, die.

At the end of the winter, stored root vegetables have a remarkable ability to tell that their second growing season is approaching. They sprout new leaves and use up their stored sugars, going limp and bitter. It’s time to use them up and seed in new plantings.

Beets are one of my favorite root vegetables, sweet enough to moisten a cake, yet full of antioxidants and folates, B vitamins and potassium. Raw grated beets tossed with lemon juice and olive oil make a great salad; roasted beets are delicious tossed with butter and dill, or in one of these recipes:

Beet Hummus

Beet Hummus

Borscht

Borscht

Spicy Beet Soup with Turmeric Rice

Spicy Beet Soup with Turmeric Rice

Beet Tzatziki

Beet Tzatziki

Crunchy Quinoa Chicken

This recipe is based on one in Maricel E. Presilla’s great cookbook, Gran Cocina Latina. 

Crunchy Quinoa-dipped Fried Chicken Fingers with a spicy soy sauce based dip

Crunchy Quinoa-dipped Fried Chicken Fingers with a spicy soy sauce based dip

It’s an interesting use of quinoa – as the crust on fried chicken fingers. They are delicious,especially with the dipping sauce, and they stay crisp for a long time.

I tried two ways of cooking the chicken – frying it in hot oil, as well as baking it in a hot oven on a well-oiled sheet tray. I prefered the traditionally fried chicken, but baking did work as well; just be sure to flip the chicken halfway through cooking so it browns on both sides. Continue reading