Intense and earthy, the red beet vegetable gets it’s glorious color from a pigment called betalain. Beets most commonly come in red, golden, and candy stripe varieties, although the red ones are quite brilliant in this recipe. While beets have the highest sugar content of all vegetables, many people don’t realize that it’s not the naturally occurring sugars that are bad. The sugars found in fruits and vegetables are very different from table sugar that you typically find in processed foods such a protein bars, snack foods, or even salad dressing. The naturally occurring sugars contained in whole foods work together with the enzymes in your body on a molecular level to control blood sugar spikes that typically occur with processed foods. That means that the sugar from these whole, plant-based foods enters your bloodstream more slowly and keeps you full longer. Not only that, the antioxidants and phytonutrients contained in fruits and vegetables are beneficial to your overall health.
In the “old days” beet juice was considered an aphrodisiac, perhaps not coincidentally, this recipe is a twist on a familiar favorite, bruschetta, and a fun recipe to try for Valentine’s Day. There are many emotional connections to the food we eat, from the bounty of a country to the evolution of the families who cook it. I think Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to reflect on how the food we eat nourishes us and connects us to the people we love. I hope you’ll take some time to enjoy the company of your favorite Valentine and share a nutritious meal that keeps you healthy in mind, body, and spirit.
While I wouldn’t claim to have invented the combination of beets accented by a salty cheese, I will say that marinating the beets in a good vinegar will make all the difference in making them taste less earthy and more vibrant and tangy. In this recipe, I’m showcasing the beautiful red color of the beets in combination with a topping of julienned basil.
To retain their deep, rich color, cook the beets with the skin in tact, then remove, let cool, and dice. Be sure to keep the beet greens (also edible) and use them in salads, soups, or stir-fry. The leaves contain their own set of nutrients, including more than 6,000 IU of vitamin A. My husband has definitely eaten his fair share of obscure vegetables over the past decade, but I must admit, he is not a beet eater. The idea of this recipe was to make the beet more palatable for him. The longer the beets marinate, the more pleasant they taste.
Salt & Pepper
The beets can be peeled and marinated raw, or cooked in the oven for a short time. Cook with the skin on at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes to soften, then allow to cool and remove the skin. Dice the beets and marinate in vinegar for an hour or up to a day.
Toast a baguette in the oven for 8 minutes at 350 degrees. Allow to cool to the touch, and then spread goat cheese on each slice. Top with marinated, diced beets, salt, pepper, and fresh basil.