Sigh. Our combination vegetable/flower garden is looking quite haggard. A solitary purple bean hangs, the variety of “greens” have bolted, and the pea vines are withered. As much as I want to tidy it up to spark joy, the seemingly sorry state of our garden is providing needed sustenance for the birds and pollinators.
Although it looks a neglected mess now, our initial attempt at cultivating our own food in this home has been a success. We’ve been foraging in the yard for dandelions, bittercress and acorns for several years. However, this growing season was the first with raised garden beds at the end of our driveway, which is the only sliver of our property that receives anything other than dappled sunlight.
While the glory days of our heat-loving plants has passed, now is the perfect time for the golden beets. Having grown up eating canned beets, I didn’t think I liked beet roots until I had them fresh. I’m particularly partial to golden beets. Their flavor is sweeter and more mellow and their color looks like they’ve been storing up the late summer sunshine.
Beets are a nutritional rock star. They support a healthy liver, are high in carotenoids (a cancer-protective compound) and betalin which supports the body’s detoxification processes. They also contain 50 times more antioxidants than carrots! Beet greens are more nutrient-dense than kale. If you’re shopping for beets, try to buy those that still have the green tops attached. Not only do you benefit from the nutrition, they are also a sign that the beets are fresher.
One of my favorite recipes for beets is Peppery Borscht with Garlic by Rosalee dê la Forêt. She lists this particular recipe in her Herbal Cold Care series. Another reminder that good health begins with good food!
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1 1/2 cups chopped onions
• 12 garlic cloves, minced (or to taste)
• 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
• 2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
• 2 to 3 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
• 2 bay leaves
• 1 celery stalk, chopped
• 1 large carrot, sliced
• 3 cups coarsely chopped purple cabbage
• 2 cups cubed beets
• 1 1/2 cups cubed potatoes
• 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
• 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
• 1 cup chopped beet greens
• 1 tablespoon honey
• 1 cup tomato puree
• Sour cream (optional)
• Green onions for garnish
Heat the butter in a large pot. Sauté the onions until they are translucent.
Add the garlic, caraway seeds, salt, pepper, and bay leaves. Sauté for one minute. Add the celery, carrots, cabbage, beets, potatoes, and broth. Simmer until all the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.
Stir in the balsamic vinegar, beet greens, honey, and tomato puree. Cover and simmer for 5 more minutes. Serve with a dollop of sour cream (optional) and green onions for garnish.
Notes: Borscht with Garlic recipe card, Herbal Cold Care series, LearningHerbs.com, Rosalee de la Foret; How Foods Support Cancer Recovery by Donald Yance; 10 Greens with More Nutrients than Kale, Appetite for Health.