The Virtues of Raw Beets


Photo by Anastatia Curley

To try Anastatia's carrot and beet salad with toasted pepitas, click here.

This week, picking up my CSA share was lonelier than usual—my close friend Maggie, with whom I usually split it, was out of town, leaving me with twice as many vegetables but half as much company. I lugged my box home, feeling a little bereft, but by the time I opened it and got to the bottom I had forgotten my loneliness in the thrill that the ten pounds of vegetables were mine, all mine!

Which is to say: this was a particularly good box. Right on top was a bunch of purple kale that had me dreaming of tagliatelle topped with it and some creamy ricotta. Beyond the kale, there were satsumas, beets, red-leaf lettuce, apples, carrots, sweet potatoes, and a gigantic bunch of parsley. Bounty! I started planning my week: the aforementioned pasta, lunches of garlic-laced salads and roasted sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes with parsley, and desserts like apple pies and delicate, satsuma-redolent cakes.

Adding kale to the equation ratchets up the virtue factor, but not enough for my fiery new 2010 self.

But where to begin? I thought of the silky texture of pasta coated with ricotta and the fact that the kale would start to show its age before any of the other vegetables. But then all sorts of "new year, new you" demons crowded in, and I thought perhaps I shouldn't indulge in such decadence.

As 2009 wound to a close, I promised not to eat quite so many dinners constructed around the glorious combination of pasta and cheese. (Tossed properly, linguine coated in parmesan and butter is sublime, and it makes up my dinner more times each week than I like to admit.) Granted, adding kale to the equation ratchets up the virtue factor quite a bit, but not enough for my fiery new 2010 self. If Food Channel producer Eleanor Barkhorn can run a marathon, I can eat something other than pasta!

Luckily, a pile of beets had arrived along with the kale. I can think of nothing more virtuous than raw beets. In fact, I avoided them for years under the mistaken impression that something so appallingly healthy couldn't possibly taste good. (My father made me drink wheatgrass juice as a child—I have neither forgiven him nor forgotten.) This summer, a bite of raw beet grown on the Yale Farm changed my mind: it turns out raw beets are wonderful.

I celebrated this discovery by concocting a salad of shredded raw carrots and beets with toasted pepitas, and I turned to this recipe again this week. It makes a colorful tangle to brighten a white winter day. I'll still make the kale-topped pasta, but I felt awfully good eating these beets.

Recipe: Carrot and Beet Salad With Toasted Pepitas

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Anastatia Curley is the former Communications Coordinator of the Yale Sustainable Food Project. More

Anastatia Curley is the former Communications Coordinator of the Yale Sustainable Food Project. She now lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she writes, cooks, and caters local and sustainable meals.

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