As an American with Irish roots, it sometimes drives me crazy that so many St. Patty’s Day ‘decorations’ are related to beer and whiskey. Really? That’s all we can celebrate about being Irish? Shamrocks and alcohol???
AS far as food goes, I love my Irish soda bread and colcannon (cabbage and potato dish). But there is so much more to Irish food than potatoes, cabbage, and soda bread.
A long time ago, Irish meals were mainly meat and potatoes because people spent most of their day doing hard physical labor, and they needed sustenance to get them through the long day. But modern Irish cooking is not the same old meat-and-potatoes. While tradition is honored, fresh vegetables are a big part of the culinary experience.
And yet…when you search on the Internet for St. Patrick’s Day recipes with lots of vegetables, they’re hard to find.
Did you know that root vegetables, such as beets, are widely grown in Ireland? In honor of the beautiful vegetables grown in Ireland, today’s post is an encouragement to the Irish-American to look beyond the potato this St. Patrick’s Day. Expand your horizons and grab a bunch of beautiful golden beets! If you’re skeptical, first consider their visual appeal. They’re green, which fits in with the color scheme. And it could be argued that the golden beets are reminiscent of gold coins.
Even more importantly, consider their healthy appeal. Beet greens are in the cruciferous family. This means they fight cancer. You can sauté them as you would any other green leafy vegetable. The root of the beet is what people are most familiar with. Beets detoxify the body and reduce inflammation. They are also loaded with antioxiodants.
While beets are delicious when roasted, they are very sensitive to high temperatures. This means that it’s best to eat them raw or sautéed over low heat in order to retain the nutrients.
These beets lean a bit more towards modern gourmet Irish than traditional Irish due to the use of coconut oil and natural maple flavor. However, the maple flavor is a good investment because you can use it in a variety of recipes, and you only need to use a small amount at a time.
If you’d prefer, you could substitute maple syrup, but be aware that will raise the sugar content, whereas maple flavor has no added sugar.
One more note – you can cook these all in the same pan, but the golden color may become darker if you do that. They will still taste delicious. But if you prefer to keep your beets bright and sunny in color, either sauté in two separate pans, or use one large pan and keep the greens on one side and the beets on the other as you cook.
Bain taitneamh as do bhéil!
Maple-Flavored Beets and Greens
(serves approx. 4 as a side-dish, depending on the size of your bunch of beets)
1 bunch of golden beets, including greens
1 tsp. natural maple flavor
1 tbsp. agave nectar (or honey)
3 tbsp. coconut oil
Cut beet greens off of beet stems. (Save the stems for a smoothie – just blend them with berries and milk of your choice. Alternately, you can chop the stems and use them in this recipe).
Cut the long skinny taproots off of the beets.
Peel beets with a vegetable peeler.
Slice beets into thin pieces, and chop greens.
Whisk together maple flavor, coconut oil, and agave nectar or honey.
Heat coconut oil mixture in a large saute pan over low heat.
Add vegetables, keeping greens to one side of the pan and beets on the other side (see above for further explanation).
Sauté, tossing gently every few minutes, just until greens are wilted slightly and beets are becoming soft.
To serve, place greens on a plate, and top with beets.