10 September 2006

Benito vs. the Produce Section: Beets & Pluots

When it comes to wine, I'm certainly willing to try anything, and generally, the weirder the better. And I'm pretty adventurous when it comes to food. But lately I've noticed that at the grocery store and the farmer's market, I tend to buy the same set of ordinary fruits and vegetables. Time to shake things up! I won't promise that this will be a recurring feature, but when possible I'm going to purchase a raw ingredient I've never cooked and/or eaten before, and post the results. Here's tonight's entries:

There's nothing unusual or odd about beets, but I've never fixed them before. Frankly, I've never voluntarily ingested them in my entire lifetime. I've had pickled beets once or twice at some point way back when, but I can never recall waking up one day and saying, "Man, I could murder a bunch of beets!" I was smoking some andouille sausage tonight, so I rinsed and scrubbed the beets, drizzled them with olive oil, black pepper, and thyme, and wrapped them in foil. They sat near the hot part of the grill for about an hour. (They were wrapped tight enough that smoke didn't reach the vegetable.)

After roasting, I peeled the skin off and tried the beets. Not that great. I splashed a little balsamic vinegar on a slice and it was much better, but still not something I'd go out of my way to eat. Still, I'm willing to try these as part of a salad or some other preparation before I write them off for good. Perhaps I'll check with my Ukranian friends and learn a good borscht recipe.

Oh, and the andouille sausage was delicious, particularly with a little horseradish mustard on the side.

A pluot is a hybrid fruit that is ¾ plum and ¼ apricot. I've seen these over the past few years but never felt like buying one. I grew up with easy access to peach and plum trees, so when it comes to stone fruit my loyalties are clear. But I gave the pluot a shot. As you can see, it's quite attractive when sliced open. And this is one juicy damned fruit. If you try and eat it out of hand you're going to get juice all over you. It's insanely sweet, though the actual flavor is very mild, much like an apricot. The skin contains a tart burst of plum flavor, but frankly, I'd be happier eating nice ripe plums picked from a neighbor's tree (with permission, of course).


Barbara said...

Check out my Beetroot Tabouli.

Benito said...


That does look tasty... Fortunately there's plenty of little Middle Eastern markets around here where I can get fresh pita or lavash, and I tend to prefer my tabouli on flatbread. I think beets really need some acidity to balance out the flavors.

Is it true you put sliced beets on hamburgers down there in the antipodes? Forgive me if I'm mixing up Australian/New Zealand cuisine with that one. And if so, are you using pickled or roasted beets?