So we all know that a "food desert" is a place without ready access to fresh vegetables, fruits and other healthy foods. But does the "calendar place" that is March ever feel like a food desert to you too? It's not really winter any more, at least not here in eastern Missouri, even if the forecast is for snow. And it's not really spring either, even if daffodils are blooming on the south-facing exposures. Likewise, our tastebuds are so ready for the lightness that is spring, even as our bodies still crave the cozy sweaters of wintry comfort foods.
My answer? Bridge foods, the foods that help us cross from one season to the next, especially the long climb from winter to spring. And – please don't shoot me on this one – I turn to canned beets. They're cheap, they're easy and frankly, I think they're good, at least when submerged in pickling brine for at least a day.
And I'm surprised by how much people like them! For the last two Easters, I served Refrigerator Pickled Beets, cut into pieces and chopped with fresh herbs, they disappeared in a flash, "seconds" were known to happen!
Happy First Day of Spring, northern hemisphere folk!
And First Day of Fall, southern hemisphere visitors!
"I made mine with roasted beets ... wonderful!" ~ Lorraine
In the veritable garden of beet recipes, my first pick just might be homemade pickled beets – but truth be told, I’ve made real pickled beets exactly once and that was ten, make that eleven, years ago.
Instead, each year I make one batch after another of Refrigerator Pickled Beets. They’re quick, they’re good, they’re handy to have on hand to add to a quick salad.
They even – get this – make a really good summer smoothie. Take that for breakfast, all you Beet Princesses.
BEAUTIFUL BEET RECIPES My friend Pille from the Estonian food blog Nami-Nami hosts a board on Pinterest for beautiful beet recipes. Check out a few of hers, she, I think, is ripping the beet-queen crown from my head! :-)))
REFRIGERATOR PICKLED BEETS
Time to table: at least 24 hours
Makes about 14 (small batch) or 70 (large batch) small pickled beets
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Pinch black pepper
- 1 15-ounce can beets, preferably small beets (see TIPS)
- 1 cup (220g) water
- 1 cup (230g) apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
- 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Pinch of cloves, optional
- 4 or 5 15-ounce cans of beets, preferably small beets
In a saucepan, bring the water, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper and cloves to a boil.
While the pickling liquid heats, drain the beets. If the beets are large, cut into bite-size pieces, irregular chunks are better than even slices (see TIPS). Place the beets in a large glass container with a lid (see TIPS). Pour the hot liquid over the beets. Let cool, then cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving, up-ending every so often if the beets aren’t completely submersed.
So yeah, canned beets can help "bridge" the seasons. But y'know what? Refrigerator Pickled Beets are the starting point for one of my favorite quick 'n' easy summer salads in recent memory! Just toss pickled beets with fresh blueberries and ribbons of fresh mint. Tis that easy! But if you need more info, check out Pickled Beet Salad with Fresh Blueberries & Mint at A Veggie Venture, my food blog about vegetables.
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