A Little Word on Beets – [The Mouthful Morsel]

It’s been a busy semester, and unfortunately, it’s easy to slip into simple cooking routines. I know a quick fruit and yogurt parfait will fill me up in ten minutes or less, and an apple in the purse keeps me from stopping when I don’t have the time. But the weekend is here, and with it comes my first Mouthful Morsel – a whole weekend of new foods, great recipes and restaurants you can’t miss. Because sometimes, when you find something great, a quick little bite just isn’t enough.

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Definitely a case of "don't judge a book by its cover." Underneath the rough exterior skin is brilliant red vegetable you'll be going back to for seconds.

The beet, my friend, is my latest food crave.  Beet salads, borscht, and maybe even some beet and chocolate muffins are just some of the ways the beet can be transformed into your next bite. The vibrant color and earthy texture of these root vegetables make them a great addition to any culinary arsenal, and their high levels of antioxidants and nutrients, such as iron and fiber, as well as their low-calorie profile (only 75 calories, approximately, for a cup of sliced beets) are just a healthful bonus for this super root. Roasting beets is the easiest way to get to square one.  Eat them straight out of the oven, or check back tomorrow for part two of this Mouthful Morsel.

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A little aluminum bag for roasting beets ensures even cooking. It also keeps the beets from staining everything instantly.

After washing any residual dirt off the beets, drizzle a little olive oil over them and a dash of salt. Fold them inside a piece of aluminum foil and turn up the edges, to create a cooking pouch.

Depending on the size and freshness of the beets, your cook time will vary. At 375 degrees Fahrenheit, I cook my medium-sized beets for approximately 45 minutes.

When the beets are tender, allow them to rest, before peeling back the skin.  After roasting, the skin should easily pull away, but a paring knife will help keep your hands clean and may expedite the process.

A Little Warning: Beet juice stains, and gets everywhere! It’s a lovely color, but you don’t necessarily want it permanently on your bamboo cutting board or under your fingernails for the weekend. I use a rag or paper towels to handle the beets while I halve them, quarter them, and then cut into thin slices.

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There's something to be said for that first moment when you open the foil pouch and release the sweet, earthy smell of home-roasted beets.

Tomorrow, I’ll share one of my favorite, quick and simple beet-based meals, and I’ll end this Mouthful Morsel with a trip to a fantastic Cambridge eatery you have to try: dietary restriction or not.

When a little bite turns into a big culinary adventure, sometimes it’s worth taking the extra time to write it down, and chew it over.

Until tomorrow, I’m off to find another little bite!

Melanie

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