B10: Beets & Broccoli Rabe

Last Wednesday I started my local, seasonal food exploration à la alphabet format. This Wednesday, today, is all about ‘B’ food. I suspect that my craving for beets this winter may have been the impetus for this alphabet approach. Like so many people, I grew up knowing beets as those canned disks. My Farmer’s Market version is a distant relative. I loaded up my cloth bag on Sunday with several pounds of beets, broccoli and broccoli rabe. It may be cheating, but my vegetables are part of my 100 foot diet challenge because the Market is across the street. Kidding. At least the farms are within a 100 mile radius of my home.

I am not kidding about the craving thing. Within the first hour I cut off the leaves and ran the beets under water and tossed them into a pan. No oil, only a bit of water, salt and pepper. I let these whole roots simmer until I could pierce them with a fork without a lot of resistance. When I deemed them done, I ate my beets without accoutrements beyond a pat of butter. It was satisfying and hassle-free.

I have eaten it daily since in a salad, in a split pea soup and alone – again. Reminds me of the song lyric, Alone Again Naturally.

Naturally is an understatement because I was inspired to eat my beets without removing the ‘rat’s tail’ at the end or the stem start at the top. This was an experiment inspired by a Chile Chew's post recently. It is amazing that we are taught to toss so much of the plant before we prepare it. Chile pointed out that in Asia this is not done. All of the plant is used. And I found I liked the consistency and flavor.

I did buy organic broccoli and decided to attempt something new with an additional couple of bunches of broccoli rabe. This is a peppery Italian vegetable that looks a bit like a leggy broccoli, but I’m told it is different. I’ve had it and can’t remember the taste.

Oh yes, I may have to mention again that I love to look at food as art. I think feeding the eye is about as important to me (at times) as feeding the stomach. I came across this adorable photo with a tree oyster mushroom, broccoli rabe, and mache lettuce. So pleasing.

Instead of this fetching little basket, I intend to make a chop salad out of the rabe. The farmer at the market gave me a verbal recipe. I think she said to chop the plant, leaves and all. (So, I am hearing this waste nothing approach from all around). I will add balsamic vinegar (substitute for apple cider vinegar), Turbinado sugar, yogurt, salted sunflower seeds and raisons. I may actually fix two versions because I don’t usually like sweet dressings. My substitute for vinegar would be lemon, no sugar, Kalamata olives instead of raisons and pine nuts instead of sunflower seeds. I also think I will briefly steam the greens and the blanche them to remove some of the bitterness.

Although I hadn’t planned it, I also went to Henry’s for another craving – barley, pearled barley sold in bulk. I intend to fix barley soup with chopped broccoli, miso flavoring and mushrooms, a favorite combination of mine.

Once past the bulk food bins I spotted the blueberries on sale 2/$4. It blows my eating local pledge since these are non-organic blueberries from Mexico. On the up side, my neighbor grows bananas and I may bug him for one this week. They’re still a bit green, but I could try to ripen it in a bag. I am taking it slowly. But, I am loving the ‘B’ version of the plant world.

flickr broccoli rabe

flickr basket