Makes 3 Cups
Variations on classics are never ending in the kitchen. It’s one of the reasons I so enjoy cooking and sharing what I cook. We don’t usually think of beets in the midst of the summer heat. Especially not when there are berries and lovely greens all over the place. It seems like we should just leave these root veggies alone, till fall. Seems! Beets are actually harvested through summer. Golden beets are a delightful sunny color (or sometimes they conceal a beautiful orangey fuchsia in their center) and have a crisp refreshing crunch especially when eaten raw as in this recipe. (They’re also delicious pickled!) The main reason I got these beets? Claire. It just felt like a good time to introduce her to what Tom Robbins calls “the most intense of vegetables”. He also said, “beets are deadly serious”*. Let’s find out why.
They belong to the chenopod family, along with chard, spinach and quinoa. (The beet greens are not only edible, they’re delicious, too! Sauté or eat raw in salads.) Beets are special in that their overall phytonutrient content has a special, beneficial relationship with our nervous system. Their pigmentation is a result of betalain antioxidant pigments (as opposed to beta-carotene for golden beets or anthocyanins for red ones) which makes them very unique. They are also high in Vitamin C and manganese (also antioxidants) which further enhances their potency.¹ To refresh our memories, antioxidants protect our cells from free radicals roaming around. Free radicals occur as a result of the food we eat, the air we breathe, the stress we manifest, etc. Thank goodness beets are deadly serious! They are also serious about being anti-inflammatory which wards off everything from heart disease to type 2 diabetes to cancer. Additionally, they’re incredible detoxifiers and therefore essential to any detox program. Beet juice anyone? And finally there’s our buddy fiber keeping things in check. It seems that the fiber in beets is pretty special, too. Extra good news for our digestive and cardiovascular systems.¹
Put simply: Super unique antioxidant power + incredible anti-inflammatory power + special fiber = serious anti-cancer! (“Betanin pigments from beets have been shown to lessen tumor cell growth through a number of mechanisms, including inhibition of pro-inflammatory enzymes.”¹) We should throw beets a party!
Given all this, I figured these beets should be treated with a certain amount of respect. The dressing was my way of doing just that. Another influence from my family’s sojourn in the Middle East, tahini is likewise special and this dressing is sure to wow your palate. Trust me on this one! (More on tahini for another post. I use it often.)
In the meantime, get serious about making this slaw. Happy tastebuds, happy body, happy spirit!
3 C beets, julienned or shredded (about 3-4 medium beets)
1/4 C golden raisins (optional)
2 T parsley, finely chopped
1 T sesame seeds, toasted
For the dressing:
2 T tahini
1 T brown rice vinegar (I’ve also used champagne vinegar and apple cider vinegar with equal success.)
1 T maple syrup
1/4 C fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 t ground cumin
Sea salt, to taste
1. Trim ends of beets and peel with a vegetable peeler. I chose to julienne the beets instead of shredding them this time. I used a mandolin to get even planks and then cut 1/8″ rods using a chef’s knife. I think it looks a bit nicer and I love the extra cutting practice. (I have many times shredded the beets in a food processor however, and it’s just as delicious!)
2. Combine julienned/shredded beets with raisins and set aside.
3. Mix all dressing ingredients together and whisk thoroughly until well combined.
4. Add dressing to beets and raisins.
5. When serving, top with sesame seeds.
*Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume
(There’s some great detailed info on this site about the phytonutrients and overall health benefits of beets. Enjoy!)