Thursday, March 3, 2011

Red Letter Day

The letter "P" is the letter of the day. It's been a red letter for us for much of this week because we've been eating beets.

I was reading a post about beets on White on Rice Couple's blog Hate 'Em or Love 'Em? and, after I got done reminding myself that some people really don't like beets, I started to reflect on the many dishes we love which incorporate beets: Crispy Grits with Sweet and Sour Mushrooms and Beets; Roasted Beets and Potatoes with Rosemary; False Mahshi (a layered dish of beef, chard, beets, and rice); and the latest addition--Spiced Quinoa with Beets and Yogurt. The latter recipe comes to us courtesy of the NY Times does the recipe for the False Mahshi.

This beautiful dish is wonderfully easy to make and remarkably filling despite looking like not much more than a side dish.

We used red quinoa, which cooks up quickly and, to my mind, more easily than rice. The unusually high protein content for a grain is a big plus for Jim and the spices in this recipe (cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cardamon, cloves, and coriander) add even more interest to its naturally nutty flavor. After frying the ground spices, stir in the cooked quinoa, then spread the mixture in a baking pan. Layer sliced beets on top and stick in the oven for 20 minutes. 

The topping is one of those things that sounds bad but is surprisingly good--garlic yogurt. Big dollops of greek yogurt with garlic paste mixed in really makes this dish and I can't explain why. A few walnuts on top for crunch finish it off and the meal is ready to serve.

If you are serving this dish to people who don't normally eat beets, tell them not to call the enterologist or the urologist for an urgent appointment. Beets have a funny way of reminding you that you ate them recently but it can be a bit disconcerting in the bathroom the next day, especially if it's early and you're a little groggy.  We don't mind at all. We're happy to eat beets any time. If only we had more luck growing our own, we'd probably keep a root cellar full of them, so we'd never be without. Red--the color of love.

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