Thursday, August 6, 2009

CSA Adventures: "Beet It"

I've never really had beets before...

I mean, maybe in small amounts - in salads or as part of a bigger meal.

But never this much:

(Borscht! So much of it that only the slow cooker could hold it!)

Borscht. It's fun to say, actually.
But damn, it's hard to eat if you're not used to beets.

We've received a lot of beets from our CSA in the past couple of weeks. Once we juiced all of them. Bill loved it. I struggled through it.

The Superintendent of our building and his wife are this super adorable Ukrainian (we think) couple. With all the beets we've been getting, Bill's been really excited to make borscht and tell them all about it.

Basically, it's a hot or cold beet-based soup that's popular in Eastern and Central Europe, usually served with a boiled potato, sour cream, and meat. Bill used Mark Bittman's cold borscht recipe from his ever-popular book How to Cook Everything. It's definitely something we fall back on as a general guide on making things we haven't yet tried. Bittman's recipe did not include any meat, however, so Bill stuck with that recipe - which calls for 3 lbs of beets....which is what Bill used...Apparently, 3 lbs of beets = 3 days worth of borscht.

Day 1 of Borscht: The first time Bill fed it to me (cold - because it's been super hot and humid this summer!), there was just the potato and sour cream. Don't get me wrong, it was good...just....a lot! We have big bowls that we usually use for noodle soups or larger meals. A large bowl of borscht was not easy for me to handle. We had to set the rest of it aside, and Bill decided to take it to work for lunch the next day.

Day 2 of Borscht
: I told him that it felt like borscht shouldn't be the main course, but as part of a larger meal. Bill suggested that we use sausages to make the meal more hearty. Interestingly, the only sausages we had were longanisa (Filipino sausages, pre-packaged from a market in Chinatown). Since longanisa is generally pretty sweet, Bill thought it would make for an interesting mix with the beet-y taste. We also ended up using a smaller bowl so that we wouldn't fill up before finishing the meal. In the end, it was delicious!!! The combination (including the sour cream and boiled potato) was indeed filling, but just the perfect amount.

(Day 2! Longanisa, sour cream, sourdough bread, dill, and BORSCHT, baby!)
Day 3 of Borscht: Bill decided that this final night of borscht would include Spicy Italian Chicken Sausages from Trader Joe's. That was also a fabulous combination of flavors! During our dinner conversation, Bill and I agreed that the different mix-ins created more depth to the meal, more than just beets. Again, the meal was filling and quite healthy.

It was a great way to use up all the beets. The meal is full of vitamins that are great for cardiovascular health. It makes your pee look somewhat scary, though, since it can turn into a reddish color. So, I say it's worth a try for those who've never had it. But it's certainly not for the unadventurous type!

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