Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Beet it!

I first visited Serenbe in early December: it was a bright, crisp day shortly after the last CSA of the year. I caught the farm as it was settling down for its winter nap, and as a result the fields were appropriately subdued, with green and brown the dominant color scheme. I had trouble imagining the riot of color that would herald spring--it seemed a quiet farm.

Not so, any longer! Each day reveals fresh blossoms on peach trees, strawberry plants, and even our cover crop of vetch. My newly trained eyes catch colors where before I might only have seen a green wash. On field walks this spring I'm forever stopping in my tracks to admire tiny yellow buttercups or the brilliant purple stems of last season's beets. Those tell-tale purple stems in particular have become an obsession of mine, calling me to harvest every time I pass their bed. I can't get enough of the satisfying pop that ushers the beets out of the earth or the shockingly bright colors hidden beneath their dusty skin. Beets seem to me a good season-transitioning vegetable: nourished by the ground as it slumbered, earthy in flavor, but still suggestive (in that stunning purple core) of the colors of spring.

Because we have about bushel of beets still in the field, I'm always looking for ways to use them up. This slightly untraditional borscht puts the humble beet front and center (don't make it unless you like the taste of beets!) but gives them a bit of polish with lemon pepper, scallions, and dill. I served it with pasta, though a heaping beet green and spinach salad would be an equally delicious accompaniment.

makes 4 hearty servings; takes just over 1 hour start to finish

4 large beets (I used about 6 medium to small ones)
1/3 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon local honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
2 cups buttermilk
2 scallions, white part only, minced
fresh or dried dill
plain yogurt or sour cream

Place the beets in a large sauce pan with water to cover. Bring to a boil and let simmer until beets are cooked, 30-40 minutes. Remove from heat and drain, saving at least one cup of the liquid. Set the beets aside to cool.

In a saucepan, cook the oatmeal on low with 1 cup of the beet water until all the liquid is absorbed. Meanwhile, peel and quarter the beets.

Place the beets, oatmeal, honey, lemon juice, and lemon pepper in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Add the buttermilk and process until blended. Return the soup to the stove and heat until warmed through. Serve with a garnish of the scallions and dill as well as a dollop of yogurt or sour cream.

my thanks to Diana Shaw's Vegetarian Entertaining for the inspiration for this recipe


Elizabeth said...

MK! Your farm is in the Wall Street Journal, in an article about New Urbanist/sustainable living by Shelly Banjo called You are How You Live. My boss at work gave it to me to read and lo and behold, there's Serenbe. Hope you're having fun!

Kate said...

Hey wonderful woman. Call me when you have a little time and let's catch up. I'm not working this week, so anytime is good. Love!!!

(Still trying to like beets. I find them most palatable washed, packed in salt, wrapped in foil, and roasted for about an hour and a half, then sliced and served warm with arugula and some freshly-grated horseradish.)