Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mr. President – Yes We Can Enjoy Roasted Beets and Goat Cheese Gratin!

Dear President Obama,

I fear that you are about to find yourself embroiled in a controversial issue and I want to help you. You’ve got enough on your plate already.

Do you remember when the first George Bush stated unequivocally that he hated broccoli? Do you remember the uproar, the days of negative press and the scores of elementary school children who felt completely justified in turning up their nose at fresh, nutritious broccoli?

Advocates for sustainable agriculture were thrilled to learn last week that the First Lady is planting an organic garden on the White House lawn to grow fresh vegetables for your family and educate school children about local and sustainable foods. I can’t describe the feeling of satisfaction you will have when you bring those fresh vegetables to the table.

But, no beets?

Now, technically, beets are a “red” vegetable, so perhaps I understand what the issue might be. But, I see that even beleaguered broccoli has a place in the White House vegetable garden.

I do understand how you feel about beets. I was there myself once. When I was a kid, I thought they were “icky.” But then, as an adult, when I began roasting beets pulled fresh from the ground, I saw them in a whole new light. The beetroot is a sturdy, intensely-flavored, down-to-earth vegetable, much like the men and woman who made America great. Beetroot juice has been shown to reduce blood pressure and may prevent certain cardiovascular issues. Beets are also a good source of fiber and Folate, and since ancient Rome, the juice of the beetroot has been prized as an aphrodisiac. Talk about a stimulus package for good health!

There are so many delicious ways to prepare beets. I was quite excited to find some perfectly beautiful organic, local beets at the Union Square Greenmarket in New York City. Using a recipe by Mark Bittman from “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” I roasted the beets with olive oil, salt and pepper and then sliced them thin and layered them in an oven-proof gratin dish.

I sprinkled the dish with fresh thyme leaves, and topped it with crumbled goat cheese, salt and pepper and whole wheat Panko bread crumbs. Five minutes under the broiler and the dish became an enticing, bubbling, magenta mélange of tangy fresh cheese and the sweet, rich essence of the earth. A gratin is just one idea. I’m sure Chefs Cristeta Comerford, Sam Kass and the talented White House culinary staff can create all sorts of scrumptious options.

Yes, beets might be an acquired taste, and are perhaps not for everyone, but they should not be excluded from the White House vegetable garden for that reason. What would happen if others followed this example, and people began excluding beets from backyard and community gardens across America? I, for one, would be heartbroken to learn that my beloved Long Island CSA, Sophia Garden had shunned beets for the 2009 growing season.

Mr. President, I urge you to reconsider your position on beets and allow them to be included in the White House vegetable garden. I hope you’ll be willing to reach across the table and support all vegetables in the true spirit of inclusivity. Beet advocates across America are counting on you!


T.W. Barritt

©2009 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved


~~louise~~ said...

Here, Here!
A daily dose of beet juice, you can always mix it with some carrot juice, has Beta carotene with antioxidant properties. Now there's a way to help get rid of not only toxic assets but some of that toxic waste hanging around Washington for way to long.

There will be carrots planted Mr. President? You must be sure to have organic carrots and beets planted. I didn't see them on the "request list."

Sincerely, Louise

Julia said...

It's a shame beets got a bad rap -- probably from years of little kids eating the mushy pickled stuff that came in cans. It's time to get over that prejudice and try them again!

And goodness, how could anyone not like that gratin. It looks fantastic1

Lori Lynn said...

Well written! Bravo!
And I highly endorse beets too, you've got my vote.

Anonymous said...

All we are saying is give beets a chance....

I'm with you 100% on this. I don't crave beets, but I do like them, roasted with a bit of orange juice and maple syrup.

La Cuisine d'Helene said...

Wow I would dig in. Looks so good.

Anonymous said...

I know there were a number of CSAs in VA hoping to be chosen "Presidential Farmer"....If they aren't included in the white house garden, let's hope beets make it to the white house via CSA delivery van! I love beets.

Jann said...

You tell him~How could anyone not LOVE beets! I just could not live without beets~did you call him, Mr. President, that better straighten this guy out! The dish looks so delicious!

Anonymous said...

ha..ha...that is funny..I do like beets...I'm surprised there are folks who do not like them. Did you know that chef Cristeta is from the Philippines?

Kalyn Denny said...

I'm laughing at Lydia's comment! I have a beet-hating sister, and I never could understand it.

BTW, all kidding aside, your roasted beets with goat cheese look amazing. Seriously drooling.

Foodiewife said...

Oh dear. I admit, that I'm working on learning to like beets. I always felt that they tasted too "earthy" for me. Hubby, on the other hand, loves them. Roasted, with balsamic, works for me. I can eat "some" but not a lot. They're so darned good for you. Uh-oh... I just confessed my lackluster liking to goat cheese. Oops. Then again, with panko crumbs (love 'em), I would be very willing to try this. Looks good.

Elyse said...

Mmm, you've made these beets look out of this world good. This recipe looks good enough to make even the most beet-skeptical person crave them!! Love your blog so much; I found my way over here via A Feat for the Eyes, and I'm so glad I did. Can't wait to keep reading!

Donna-FFW said...

Hi! I came to you through Debby.. a Feast for the eyes.. recommendation. AND I am so glad I did. I love your blog and your humor so refreshing!! And can I tell you how happy I came on the day you did a beet recipe.. I am always looking for beet recipes!! This looks perfect. Nice to meet you!

Anonymous said...

Should we trust someone who doesn't like beets? haha

Anonymous said...

Hahah....SO cute and that gratin looks absolutely mouthwatering!

Love your blog!

Half Baked said...

Cute post! I don't know how beets have gotten such a bad rap. They'er one of my fav veggies. Your recipe looks like a keeper to me!!

jesse said...

Hahaha, I was laughing the whole time I read this post. Beets and goat cheese gratin... what a combo! I can't even begin to imagine how amazing that would taste... yum!

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

Very nice letter in defense of beets. I'm not much of a beet fan either but my husband loves them. You might convince me since you included the goat cheese.

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Louise - there should be many varieties of carrots, don't you think? Sooo good, fresh from the ground!

Julia - I now like beets so much, I can't pass up a bunch any time I see them.

Lori - I think we've got a coalition!

Lydia - I will have to try orange juice and maple syrup - sounds great!

Helene - Thank you!

Debi - there is so much wonderful produce out there in Virginia!

Jann - I think the next press conference should include a beet sampling.

Veron - I didn't know the chef was from the Phillipines - that's excellent!

Kalyn - I know so many people who are afraid of vegetables - and I think they refuse to try. I don't get it either.

Debby - hopefully you'll become a fan over time!

Elyse - thanks so much for visiting! Have you ever tried a beet cake? I hear it is amazing.

Donna - Welcome! For a long time I struggled with what to do with beets, and then realized that simplicity was best.

Maryann - let's give him the benefit of the doubt, okay? :-)

Rebekka - thanks for stopping by! Come back for cake!

Half Baked - Welcome! I think we now have a majority vote in favor of beets!

Hi Jesse - Personally, I think anything is good with goat cheese!

Sam - as Lydia said, "Give Beets a Chance!"

~I AM Love~* said...

Dear TW :

Your assertions in defense of the bejeweled root are quite convincing (and wonderfully humorous as well !), although I for one need none :)

Looking forward to reading along with you on the progression of Sophia Garden. Thanks for stopping by !


Susan from Food Blogga said...

I so love this post, TW! I heard about the White House garden, but this is the first I have heard about no beets. Now, I'm regretting my vote. ;)