We wandered through the crowded Del Ray farmer’s market, ogling the fresh produce making its way from farm to market. CRR paused at the beets. I suggested we wait. Just in case. We purchased a few vegetables, then headed over to our own garden.

Sure enough, a week of rain and warm temperatures had given our garden a growth spurt that yielded the first beets. Taunus, a cylindrical hybrid that grows 6 to 7 inches long, has become our go-to red beet. It is fast-growing (65 days) and sturdy enough to stand up to Washington’s withering heat, so we typically do several plantings as garden space allows. We ripped out the remnants of the lettuce crop and planted more beet seed—gold and red.

Then we triumphantly harvested the first half-dozen beets of the season.

Beets!

I cut off the beet greens, which CRR likes to sauté with a dash of vinegar. I prefer the beetroot, which over the summer we will fashion into myriad dishes: slow roasted in the oven…sliced and layered with goat cheese and herbs … borscht, hot or cold…grated with carrots into a jewel-like slaw created by our friends Ruth and Tim. I never tire of beets, so send me your favorite recipes.

But for the first beets, a simple preparation is best. I simmered them until tender, slipped off the skins, then sliced them into 1/4 –inch rounds and spritzed them with a little margarine. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Yum.

Sandy Johnson is a journalist and a gardener, equally passionate about both. She lives in Alexandria, VA.  Visit her on her blog, Grassroots & Gardening.

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