Beet & Tomato Gazpacho
Cold vegetable soup pureed with a roasted beet for a new flavor to a classic dish. Or don't blend it and keep it chunky!
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The beet is a plant in the amaranth family. The most well known is the vegetable known as the garden beet. However, other cultivated varieties include the spinach beet, as well as the sugar beet, which is important in the production of table sugar. The deep-red roots of popular red garden beet are often eaten boiled, either as a cooked vegetable, or cold as a salad after cooking and adding oil and vinegar. A large proportion of the commercial production is processed into boiled and canned beets or into pickles. In Eastern Europe beet soup, such as cold borscht, is a popular dish. Many farmers grow a several different beet varietals, including golden beets and Chioggia (or candy cane) striped beets.
Although beets sometimes get a bad reputation for being high in sugar, they are in fact a great source of many vitamins and minerals. Beets are rich in antioxidants, which are important for their cancer-fighting properties. Beets also contain high amounts of fiber, which can help maintain a healthy body weight and promote digestive health. Folate is another component of beets; folate can decrease blood levels of homocysteine, which in turn decreases risk of inflammation and heart disease. As prevalence of heart disease increases with age, eating adequate amounts of folate can ensure good health later in life.
Handling: Scrub well before cooking, but leave an inch or so of the green tops on to minimize bleeding.
Storing: Beets and greens will last several weeks in the refrigerator if wrapped in damp cloth or in plastic in drawer of fridge.
Freezing: Baby beets are worth freezer space. Wash and sort for size; maximum 3 inches in size. Small are best. Leave on tails and ½ inch of stem so the juice won’t bleed out while boiling. Boil until tender, about 25-30 minutes for small ones and 45-50 minutes for medium. Cool quickly. Slip off skins, trim and cut in slices or cubes. Leave ½ inch of headroom for cubes and no headroom for whole or sliced. Seal and freeze.