Thursday, July 28, 2011


I have some bad news, my fava beans didn’t make it. I think Joe and I had a grand total of two beans each. The heat, ants, aphids and vinegar all added up to be more than my little plants could bear. So perhaps next year I will try again. This of course dampens my dreams of eating bowls full of favas this summer and sharing with you all the recipes I try out with them. Instead, I have beets.
Yes, I have written about beets before, and I think I may have told you about them last year. Well, since I only have two little garden boxes, a packet of seeds can be split between multiple years. This year’s harvest will look and awful lot like last years. I tried planting things in different combinations and as a result have a slightly different yield. Last year my obsession with Tuscan kale overshadowed my fondness for Chioggia beets, literally. I mean those beets didn’t grow very big because they were hidden under the 2’ tall kale.
This year, the beets have done very well. Joe and I have enjoyed a few dinners featuring their greens, and just now have I begun to pluck the well-formed globes from my little bed of dirt. I will admit that I get inordinately giddy when I slice into these beets, as you may be able to infer from the multiple pictures shown here. But they’re just so pretty. And they taste good to boot. They are a bit more mild – more user friendly if you will, than standard red beets. 
I came upon a recipe in Bon Appetít for a beet and carrot slaw that looked stunning (no surprise there huh). As usual, though, I did not have all the ingredients listed. Although the idea of a coleslaw without cabbage and mayonnaise sounded very good on what may have been the hottest day of the summer. I cut the beets into thin rounds by hand, and then into matchsticks, as my mandolin is a death trap. I tend to take off the top part of fingers when I use it. I think they sell the one I use in the masochism isle at the kitchen supply store. It is terrifyingly sharp, and each time I use it, I think to myself ‘Wow, I should really be care…’ and that’s when the tip of my finger comes off.

On a positive note, the blade is so sharp, that it really doesn’t hurt that much. It bleeds a lot, but when a cold winter night is calling for potatoes au gratin, you wrap a paper towel or three around that puppy and keep slicing. Fortunately, (for my hands) the mandolin broke, so it really would be a death trap. I now leave it in the drawer out of harm’s way. All this means that I am not recommending you use a mandolin for the cutting here, unless you A) have one with a handle/guide thing or B) you don’t want to spend 20 minutes chopping vegetables. Really, it’s up to you.

Beet, Turnip, and Kohlrabi Slaw
as adapted from Bon Appetít June 2011
Kohlrabi looks cool, and that’s why we got it and decided to put it in the slaw. All three of these main ingredients are earthy in flavor, so feel free to omit one of them if you’d like. Or you can add carrots, like the original recipe calls for.

2 medium Chioggia beets, sliced into matchsticks
½ kohlrabi, sliced into matchsticks
2 medium salad turnips, sliced into matchsticks
½ cup plain greek style yogurt (I like the Fage, because it has less moisture)
Juice of ½ a lemon
1 Tb. fresh tarragon
Salt and pepper to taste

Place all the sliced vegetables into a bowl. In a small bowl combine yogurt, lemon juice, tarragon, salt and pepper, stir well. Pour half the dressing over the vegetables and gently toss to coat. Add more dressing as necessary. Chill until ready to serve.

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