Inga's Indulgence

Monday, July 22, 2013

Beet the Summer Binge

Chilled Summer Borscht & Beet Gazpacho Shooters   

Light meals, laps in the pool, increased water consumption - these were bullets made back in May to characterize what I thought summer 2013 would be all about. And though partially fulfilled, these bullets were easily overrun by less ambitious, more realistic ones boasting "bbq" "beer" and "lounging."

But summer isn't over. Tans are deceiving. What do you say you and me actually justify putting on that bikini?

Beets! So maybe they are not your immediate solution to weight loss (no one food is), but we're not just talking about skinny, we are talking about healthy, which can equal a long term kind of skinny.

The beet, underutilized yet so full of potential! For starters, its gorgeous, royal reddish purple color is a screaming message in itself. The vibrancy of the red pigments responsible for this color, known as betacyanins, shouts "eat me, I'm good for you!" and rightfully so, because they are in fact phytonutrients possessing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may have the ability to fight cancer as well as suppress the growth of certain tumors.

A good source of folate and vitamin C, beets have also been shown to increase running capacity. That's good stuff. Now let's get to the grub...

It's summer, it's hot. You want to cool off, but you also want to eat...but you also want to leave the table with the same airiness that brought you there? SO, we need something good, cold, and light, but substantial.

Someone say soup? CHILLED please.

Here are two of my favorite summer soups, and surprise surprise - beets happen to be the star ingredient in both...

Chilled Summer Borscht
(6-8 servings)

4 small beets
4 hardboiled eggs, finely chopped
3 medium Persian cucumbers, finely chopped
5 medium radishes, finely chopped
3 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped
1, 32 oz bottle kefir or buttermilk
32 oz spring water
2 tbsp spicy brown mustard
salt, to taste

Place beets in a medium saucepan. Cover with water. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to low, simmering for 20 -30 minutes, until fork tender. Drain the beets, and rinse with cold water. Allow to cool.

Combine remaining ingredients in a large pot or container. Once beets have cooled, peel and grate. Add grated beets to the soup, mixing well to combine. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Beet Gazpacho
(yield: about 1 quart)

1 medium beet, cooked, peeled, & roughly chopped
2 tbsp cilantro, roughly chopped
2 radishes, roughly chopped
2 Persian cucumbers, roughly chopped
1 oz red onion, roughly chopped
juice of 1 lime
1 1/2 cups prepared salsa (mild or spicy depending on preference)
spring water, as needed
salt, to taste

Combine all ingredients except water in a food processor or blender. Adjust consistency with about 1 cup of water, using more if necessary. Season to taste with salt. Chill in refrigerator for a few hours before serving. Serve cold in bowls, or shot glasses.