Beta vulgaris is the Latin name for the beet. It was included in the list of seedlings that I had to learn to identify for Dr. Kahn's Commercial Vegetable Production (HORT 3433) class I took as an undergraduate at Oklahoma State University. The name made me blush, as I imagined that there must be something bordering on scandalous hidden within the plant to make it deserving of such a name. But, aside from the name, the seedling and a few encounters with rather unexciting canned beets, I knew nothing of the plant.
This is what I learned from my class: it is in the family Chenopodiaceae (like spinach), a biennial, grown primarily for the root although the leaves are also edible, and that in the United States Wisconsin and New York are major producers. The plant originated in the Mediterranean, and (my favorite fun fact) Swiss Chard and Beets are both Beta vulgaris. One cultivated for it's leaves the other for it's root.
All this wonderful information about the beet left me at a loss of what to do with the bowl full of beets we had frantically harvested in anticipation of the predicted frost. So I did what needs to be done in such a situation - I googled it - roasted winter vegetables - and I cut into the beet.
The dark drab exterior cut away bleeding a vibrant red and a shiver ran through me. Beta vulgaris, what an appropriate name. And thus began my love affair. I love peeling away the drab skin, the bright juice that bleeds onto the knife, the cutting board, my hands. I love the concentric circles revealed by halving the root. I love the sweet, dark and deep flavor that leaves my mouth tingling.
arcylic paint on a wooden cabinet door
The painting is 11 3/4" by 15". The door is 17 1/2" by 21 1/4".
$300 (contact me if you are interested in purchasing this piece)
Links to Beet Recipes:
Chocolate Beet Cake
Roasted Beets with Apple Sour Cream Sauce (not perfect... just an idea that needs improvement)
Apple Beet Soup
Potato Amuse Bouche
Strawberry Beet Salad
Roasted Beets and Greens Salad
Beet and Onion Tart