Purple Produce Eater

I have never been one to follow the crowd (except for when I was an adolescent and spent two solid years trying to emulate my older sister in all her grunge glory. I can still hear The Cranberries blasting from our boombox…).

So when it comes to food trends, while I am always anxious to find out what the ‘new’ avocado toast or kale-craze may be, I tend to take it all with a grain of salt and continue following my own counterculture palate. How very grunge of me, huh?

Trends are necessary because they can often elicit change for the better and encourage us to try something new–something that may in turn help us grow healthier and better in more ways than one. It is no mystery that produce rich in color are often packed with antioxidants, fiber and vitamins. But, I think that eating is about so much more than just filling our bellies, getting a day’s worth of fiber and following what all the cool kids are doing.

Trying new ingredients, cultural cuisines or cultivating a new set of values for yourself or your family in regards to what you eat and why are all apart of the process of evolving as humans in our efforts to survive. I’m talking about emotional and mental survival; survival of remembering what is important at the end of the day and that our choices matter—not only to ourselves but in the bigger picture of our communities, our world and the well-being of the human condition. The human spirit is wildly fascinating in its ability to survive and remain persistent, optimistic and open; to keep trying and see what happens. And our palates are no exception.

The human spirit is wildly fascinating in its ability to survive and remain persistent, optimistic and open; to keep trying and see what happens. And our palates are no exception.

When it was heralded from all of my foodie magazines that purple foods were having a moment on menus and at farmer’s markets this year I was about as stoked as my sister was when she was able to sneak into Lollapalooza at age thirteen. Forget about being a wildflower—I want in on the popular produce.  

For me, aubergine and richly plum-hued foods are a bit mysterious and otherworldly; like they know something we don’t. It seems linked to my love of Prince—the ultimate mysterious and otherworldly creature—but truly, I think that I am most excited for foods spanning shades of violet to wine to lavender because it signals that the trend towards eating smarter, healthier and with a sustainable sense of adventure is maybe here to stay.

Gabrielle Hamilton, a chef after my own heart, said that it “is so much better to be classic than trendy” and I couldn’t agree more. What I love so much about food and cooking is that it is such an endless practice. I am constantly learning and being challenged, which is the whole point. I love trying new restaurants, techniques or ingredients, but at the end of the day all I am going to want is my mother’s chicken pot pie or soft boiled eggs on buttered toast with a side of salted radishes.

At the end of the day I need to feel like at least I put forth some effort and tried to live my most authentic self and seek a bit of solace and adventure— in the kitchen and elsewhere in life. None of it matters (and to hell with how many ‘likes’ it gets me), as long as I get to keep my love for Prince-inspired produce.

 

Pickled Beets & Greens

yields 2 quarts

 

2 bunches red beets with stems & greens attached (about 2 1/2 lbs)

1 cup distilled white vinegar

1 1/2-2 inch fresh ginger, peeled & sliced into thin disks

1/2 red onion, sliced thin

1 cup water

1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons kosher salt

 

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cut greens and stems from beets leaving about 1/2 inch attached to bulbs.
  3. Rinse & dry both the beets, greens & stems.
  4. Rub beets with olive oil, wrap in foil & place on baking sheet.
  5. Roast beets until just tender—about 45 minutes or so. Allow beets to cool & then peel skins and slice off the stem & top.
  6. Slice beets into 1/4 inch thick rounds (a mandoline is handy here, though not necessary).
  7. Roughly tear the leaves from the beet stems and set aside. Roughly chop stems.
  8. Bring a pot of water to a boil & quickly blanch the stems in the boiling water and then dunk them into an ice bath & then drain.
  9. Divide beets, greens, stems, ginger & onion between sterilized jars.
  10. In a saucepan combine the vinegar, water, salt & sugar and simmer until just boiling & combined. Remove from heat & carefully pour into jars until everything is submerged. Place lids on jars and either process for sealing or allow to cool to room temp and then place in fridge. Allow at least 4 hours before eating if using refrigerator method.

The beets will keep about 2 weeks or so in the fridge once opened. Eat on sandwiches, tossed into salads (or just out of the jar with your fingers while standing in the kitchen wondering what the hell to make for dinner). Also, I highly recommend tossing everything in this pickle pot—even a bit of the brine— with some steamed & cooled red quinoa, roasted pistachios, chopped herbs such as parsley, green onions & cilantro, sliced avocado, a squeeze of lemon & grain mustard & a good (and I mean good, y’all) glug of extra virgin olive oil. Season with pepper & good salt. You’re welcome in advance.

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