This classic Eastern European root vegetable soup is often associated with Yiddish-speaking bubbies toiling over lovingly tended home fires. But you needn’t be Jewish to appreciate borscht for it’s simplicity and satisfaction quotient. That’s its shtick.
Borscht is a remarkably appealing way for anyone to enjoy the sweet/savory, earthy wholesomeness of fresh beets. Of course, there are probably as many versions of this recipe as there are mavens in Manhattan, but a good classic borscht stars beets, first and foremost, with subtle notes from other vegetables, allowing their endearing characteristics to shine through.
- 2 quarts beef broth (or vegetable broth for a vegetarian soup)
- 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 2 yellow onions, peeled and diced
- 1 shallot, peeled and chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 1 tsp. dried marjoram
- 3 organic celery stalks, washed, trimmed and chopped thin
- 1/3 head green cabbage, outer leaves discarded, thinly chopped/shredded
- 1 parsnip, peeled, trimmed and chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 medium to large red beets, peeled and coarsely grated
- 2 whole cloves
- 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar de Modena
- 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
- sour cream
Bring broth to simmer on stove. Prepare vegetables and heat oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot; medium heat. Add onions, garlic and shallots, and cook, stirring, several minutes, until vegetables are soft and fragrant. Add marjoram and stir. Add remaining vegetables, through parsnip. Stir, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes, medium low heat. Add broth and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 10 minutes more. Add cloves and grated beets and simmer an additional 10-15 minutes until vegetables are soft. Remove from heat and add balsamic vinegar. Remove cloves. Add salt and pepper to taste. Offer sour cream on the side and serve hot or cold.
Beets are not just main course sides anymore. Get creative and serve them at every course. Here we suggest an innovative appetizer with ruby-red eye appeal and heart-healthy goodness. The Mediterranean diet is among the most healthful on the planet. Classic Mediterranean Baba Ghanoush is typically made with roasted eggplant. In this version, beets lend their jewel tones to a classic vegetarian appetizer that’s ordinarily beige. The results are both beautiful and delicious. Serve with torn pita bread, or fresh crudités for dipping.
- 2 lb. red beets (about 4-5 medium to large beets)
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice plus zest
- 1 Tbsp. prepared tahini*
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely minced
- 1/2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
Preheat oven to 350° F. Wrap beets in foil and form a tightly sealed packet. Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a paring knife easily pierces the largest beet. Allow to cool and remove skins. Trim ends, quarter, and add to the working bowl of a food processor. Add lemon juice/zest, tahini, and garlic, and process until pureed. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.
Crunchy Beet Salad/Relish
This dish combines the sweetness of roasted beets with the nutty crunchiness of hazelnuts for a delicious side dish. Alternatively, it serves as an enticing relish to enhance a simple filet of fish, pork or chicken.
- 1/4 cup raw shelled hazelnuts
- 1 lb. small to medium red and yellow beets, roasted and peeled
- 1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp. fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
- 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar de Modena (or 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar)
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. Meyer lemon juice, plus zest
Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a jelly roll pan with parchment and spread out nuts. Bake 5-10 minutes until toasty brown. Do not overcook or nuts will scorch and become bitter. Set aside. Wrap unpeeled beets in foil, form a tight packet, and bake for approximately 45 minutes to one hour. Allow beets to cool. Remove skins and chop beets into fine dice. In a bowl, toss beets with shallot, mint, vinegar, olive oil, and juice/zest. Add nuts and gently fold in. Serve cold.