Wednesday, July 1, 2009

As American as...beets?

Last week I baked something with rhubarb for the first time in my life and, yesterday, I cooked beets for the first time in my life.

Beets. They had been on my forbidden foods list this time last year. I was following an anti-inflammatory diet to help my body heal itself during those first few months of being gluten free. It felt big and restrictive and psychologically painful at first. I refrained from eating the usual suspects: refined sugar, alcohol, dairy, soy, corn, chocolate, and coffee. I also avoided many things one wouldn’t expect: potatoes, tomatoes, beets, eggplant, peas, shellfish, and so many other things.

Compared to the years of physical pain, however, those few months of careful eating ended up feeling like nothing.

I started this blog about a year ago. I started it because I wanted to pass on information I found about eating and cooking gluten free. I also wanted to be another example, another story, for those wondering if they, too, might be gluten intolerant or have Celiac disease. Reading myself in other people’s stories helped me figure out my own story.

I also had an intense desire to prove to people that you can eat gluten free and really enjoy food – that life in the kitchen didn’t have to be “good enough,” but blissfully epicurean. I wanted a record of all of the wonderful things the gluten free community could enjoy.

I think I also wanted to prove to myself that there was still plenty in my kitchen to get excited about.

With the need to eat gluten free came an increased desire to eat well and to feel even more appreciative of the food I enjoy. So, here I am, with an almost obsessive relationship with food. What a good thing.

My CSA is making me even more aware and appreciative of every bit of food presented to me. I am learning to use the whole plant, to see the leaves of the broccoli as salad greens and the stems of beets as stir-fry ingredients. To simply throw any part of the plant away feels like I am dishonoring all of the time, attention, and care that went into growing it.

I know this isn't a very "Independence day" themed food, but, hey, it's got the red and the white, right? ;) Serve it on a blue plate like I do and you are all set!

Beet and walnut salad

This salad makes use of the beet root and its leaves. You can chop up the stems into small pieces and add them to a stir-fry on another night. This serves 2 people.

1 bunch beets

2 cups spinach

½ onion, diced

2 cloves garlic

½ cup toasted walnuts

goat cheese

olive oil

Wash the beet roots and slice off the stems. Pull the leaves off and wash as you would lettuce. Set the leaves aside.

Place the beet roots on a piece of aluminum foil with a little olive oil and wrap the foil up and around the beets to make a closed pouch. Place the pouch in the oven at 400F for about 40 minutes, until tender. With pouch still closed, set aside while you cook the leaves.

Saute the onion in some olive oil and add the garlic. Stir for about a minute, then add the greens (beet leaves and spinach). Stir until greens begin to wilt. Divide between two plates.

Slice the beet roots into bite-sized pieces and divide between the two plates, placing them on top of the greens. Top with the walnuts and a few pieces of goat cheese.



Travis Ingersoll said...

Love the beautiful pic and your quest to not waste any part of the plant! I love how us celiac sufferers are all about helping each other out. It's a good community to be part of:)

Steph said...

Hm, I've always been kinda scared of beets, but this salad looks pretty good...

Lauren Denneson said...

Travis - it is indeed a good community to be a part of! We are lucky, in an odd way, to be a part of it.

Steph - don't be afraid; they don't bite, I promise :)