The only problem with some things on Earth is that they suffer from a lack of good PR. In the food department, hundreds of items are absolutely wonderful to eat, but we dont give them a chance because our moms never served them or taught us how to use them, or somebody put them down (oh, farmer food, was the classic insult my how things have changed), or they look a little funny.
With the original Whistler Farmers Market well underway on Sundays in the Upper Village (theres also a farmers market Saturdays at Franzs Trail in Creekside), I thought it would be fun and a little helpful for the poor edibles suffering under a yoke of neglect and misunderstanding to lift the veil on the unknown, the underrated and the overlooked. So I asked vendors at the original market to turn people on to one item they sell that they feel is under-appreciated. Call it a primer to the orphans of the farmers market:
Whistler is pretty leading edge for a lot of things, but when it comes to beets, were slackers.
Barbara Tuemp, the owner of Armitspring Orchard in Lillooet, sells great baking and a variety of organic fruits and veggies at the market. She is a huge beet fan and cant understand why Whistlerites are, well, a little hesitant about this tasty and versatile vegetable.
"My daughter is married to an Australian and she says down there beets are the latest hot thing," she says. "They grate them up raw and use them on all the gourmet sandwiches. I thought by now this would have spread to Canada.
"In Munich, theyre using them on open-face sandwiches, too sliced pickled beets, a little hard-boiled egg, and garnishes like pimentos and shredded cucumber on a dark rye bread. They also make a beet salad using sliced, cooked beets in a light vinaigrette, with chives sprinkled on top, like a potato salad."
Sounds like a cold beer is in order.
You can use beets raw, par-boiled, or, of course, fully cooked. When you boil them up, leave the skin and a bit of the stem on, or the red colouring will leach out. Cool them under cold water, then slip the skins off before serving. Or you can bake them wrapped in foil at 350 degrees for about an hour.
Bonus: beet greens are even healthier than spinach. You can stir fry them with a bit of olive oil and onion, or bacon; boil them; or use them raw on sandwiches like lettuce.