For The Press
Combining beets and beans can produce a wonderfully tasty way to get more garden goodies into your home menu. Colorful and appetizing, the combination contains everything from fiber to vitamins and phytonutrients.
Beets, which evolved from the wild sea beet found along coastlines from India to Britain, were first domesticated in the eastern Mediterranean region. Today, they come in all shapes and colors, including yellow, white and even candy striped. But the most common is the deep purple-red in the produce sections of American grocery stores.
Beets can be sweet, earthy and deliciously tender when cooked properly. Beets vary in size, so cooking times will likewise vary. Check them toward the end of their cooking time because they should be tender and yet somewhat firm – especially for a salad.
Beets' nutritious green tops are often overlooked because they are often removed before you buy them. Packed with goodness like vitamins A and C, iron and calcium these wonderful greens are similar to Swiss chard. In addition to their taste and nutrition, the greens add more rich color to this salad.
Protein-rich and larger than most beans - such as black or navy - cannellini beans provide a subtle nutty-buttery taste. The flavors of cannellini beans, baked beets and steamed greens coupled with the tartness of wine vinegar and sharpness of red onion are delicious together. The result is a great way to enjoy something different than the traditional tossed green salad.
From the American Institute for Cancer Research
Beet and Cannellini Bean Salad
•2 fresh, large beets with unblemished green tops
•4 cloves garlic, mashed into fine paste
•1/4 cup red wine vinegar
•1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
•2 tsp. dried oregano
•Salt and freshly ground black pepper
•1 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
•1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut greens from top of beets, leaving 1/2-inch stem, and set aside. Individually wrap beets in foil and bake 1 hour or until tender. Let beets cool, peel and cut into 1/2-inch chunks. Set aside.
Wash beet greens thoroughly and pat dry with towel. Trim stems and cut greens into 1-inch pieces. In medium glass bowl, combine greens and garlic. In steamer basket over boiling water, heat uncovered for 5 minutes or cover glass bowl with damp paper towel and steam in microwave for 2 minutes. Set aside.
In medium mixing bowl add vinegar, oil and oregano and whisk to combine well. Add beets, greens, beans and onions and toss well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve promptly or later chilled.
Makes: 4 servings.
Nutritional information per serving: 234 calories, 14 g total fat (2 g saturated fat), 23 g carbohydrate, 7 g protein, 8 g dietary fiber, 179 mg sodium.