Citrus Beets & Goat Cheese (Fresh Food Fridays)

IMG_0815Hello and happy Friday to all of you composters out there! I hope everyone had a lovely Easter for those who celebrate, and even if you don’t we can all still appreciate those enormous chocolate bunnies. It’s April Fool’s Day, so don’t don’t be a fool and forget to take advantage of the bounty this month of showers will bring us over the next few weeks. The downtown farmer’s market this past Wednesday was bustling with shoppers, dancers and hula-hoopers, it sure is a beautiful thing seeing our market back in it’s home and better than ever, while new vendors establish themselves and old vendors offer new products for the season. As far a farmer’s markets are concerned, we have a new one entering the mix! If you live in the Hawthorne area, support your local food system this Saturday at the Hawthorne Community Market from 10-4, where they will be hosting their first farmers market.

Beets can be planted as early as September for a fall garden, but as late as March for a spring harvest before it gets too hot outside. Along with strawberries and swiss chard, these deep red rooters are one of my favorite crops ready for harvest in the springtime. Beets are hard to beat in terms of health benefits, as they are considered to be one of the healthiest foods you can eat, like other deep blue and purple vegetables like blueberries, eggplant and purple sweet potatoes. Beets are known to contain unique combinations of nutrients that are not only antioxidants, but they also protect against heart disease. Unfortunately, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, followed closely by cancer. Sad statistics, but we can beat them with beets! Adding some raw or minimally cooked beets into your diet weekly can really boost your health and therefore happiness, so why not? The greens are also deliciously nutritious, so if you find beets with nice looking leaves, go ahead and eat those too. I typically chop mine up and use them like any old lettuce, but these greens are far more flavorful.

Beets have a very strong, earthy flavor that can be tricky to cook with. I was receiving more than plenty in my CSA share, mixing one or two in with other veggies in a juicer, but they even took over the flavor profile a little too much there. I needed to find a way to tone down the earthy flavor without destroying the nutrients that are so easily cooked out when beets are cooked at high temperatures. This is probably the simplest recipe I’ve posted yet, but it’s quite the delectable little hors d’oeuvre.IMG_0817

Last year, I discovered this recipe at a Swallowtail Farm shindig, and I have been patiently waiting for beet season to come around so I could enjoy beets this way again. Check out their Spring or Fall festivals, or farm to table dinners. These are great events to attend if you want to get seasonal recipe ideas from the farmers or other seasonal, local eaters. This year’s spring festival is at the farm on April 16th from 12pm to 10:00pm. Siembra Farm is also having a Spring potluck on April 3rd, which will be awesome! You never know what amazing recipes you’ll discover at a potluck. See you there!

What You’ll Need (Serves 3-4):
1 bunch beets (3-6)
3/4 cup orange juice
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup sprouts
Goat cheese
Balsamic reduction
Toasted bread or crackers

Step 1: Thoroughly wash your beets. Use a peeler to remove the skin, and compost. Leave the stems on until after you slice them so it’s easier to hold onto the beets, and throw those into your green bucket too!

Slice the beets into ¼ inch slices, it doesn’t matter what shape, but when you slice beets round you get to see those beautiful red rings.IMG_0770

Step 2: Mix together the orange juice and balsamic vinegar into a container. Throw in the sliced beets, and let them marinate overnight, or at least for a few hours. This tones down the earthy flavor of the beets and sweetens them.

Step 3: Once the beets have marinated, remove them from the juice and let the excess drain off. Place the beets on toasted bread or crackers, spread goat cheese on top, about a teaspoon for each beet cracker.

Step 4: Drizzle the beet and cheese crackers with balsamic reduction, add sprouts and top off with black pepper. Serve up & enjoy this unbeatably healthy snack!

To learn more about bike-powered food waste diversion in Gainesville, FL, click here.

Thanks for reading,
Krissy Olson

About the Author

Krissy studies Sustainability in the Built Environment at the University of Florida. Her love for organic gardening and support for local food systems grew through her studies and Community Supported Agriculture. Krissy is the Community Outreach Coordinator at Gainesville Compost.