The Beet Goes On

Written by Carey Sweet Category: Three Bites Issue: February 2013
Group Mid-Level
Character count 2500
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A natural aphrodisiac, beets add Valentine’s ooh-la-la to traditional and unexpected recipes.

Quiessence
6106 S. 32nd St., Phoenix
602-276-0601,
quiessencerestaurant.com

Farmer Maya Dailey’s rainbow-colored beets are so fresh, the soil has barely left their skin before Chef Gregory LaPrad transforms them into one of his trademark farm-to-table delicacies. LaPrad changes his menu nightly at this dinner-only oasis at The Farm at South Mountain, based on what he hand-selects from local purveyors each morning, including Dailey’s garden at The Farm itself. A recent temptation included roasted beets tumbled with crisp apple, applewood smoked cheddar and mixed baby greens in a delicate wash of date cider vinaigrette. Beets could star in the “From the Ground” platter, which showcases the finest seasonal vegetables with herbed butter, olive oil and aioli so the earth-fresh flavors shine through. A salad could be as basic and beautiful as marinated beets arranged with Black Mesa Ranch dry Jack cheese and pristine basil leaves. And the chef has been known to conjure such inspired treats as cheese gnocchi with beets, chocolate beet cake, and even a spiced “beet bubbly” sparkling wine. Farmer Dailey, by the way, has a great recipe for beet pancakes; you can find it at mayasfarm.com.

 

Orange TableOrange Table
7373 E. Scottsdale Mall, Scottsdale
480-424-6819,
orangetable.net

For more than a decade, this hidden-away café in Scottsdale Civic Center Plaza has been a delicious secret for culinary pilgrims looking for one of the best breakfasts anywhere. The otherwise industrial bistro gets cozy with tangerine walls, giant chalkboard menus and lime green counters that invite lingering over a steaming cup of Joe or a Mexican chocolate latte. The menu features specialties like jalapeño pecan pancakes and a mouthwatering omelet stuffed with Schreiner’s chorizo, kalamata olives, provolone, tomatoes and onions. But what gets our heart pitter-pattering is the red flannel hash – a savory, crunchy-edged mélange of griddled skin-on potatoes, chunks of salty corned beef and sweet roasted beets topped with poached eggs. Let the golden yolks flow into everything, then sop them up with thick-cut artisanal toast. As scientists note, the beetroot is rich in boron, a mineral thought to boost sexual hormones while improving the immune system. Is that why this breakfast always puts such a big smile on our faces?

 

A Touch of European CafeA Touch of European Café
7146 N. 57th Dr., Glendale
623-847-7119,
atouchofeuropeancafe.com

Chef-owner Waldemar Okula promises home-cooked meals that “will bring you back to your childhood days when babcia or dziadek [cooked] for you.” The aromas wafting from the simmering pots in Okula’s kitchen are enough to make us believe we actually had such a childhood and feel nostalgic for those halcyon days when dear babcia bounced us on her knee. At his cozy BYOB, Okula whips up a rotating selection of daily soups, but one mainstay is the red borscht-beet soup, a concoction so hearty and complex even non-beet lovers will swoon. Eastern Europe has had a long love affair with beets, and you’ll find them in a hot soup with beans, or a cold version with buttermilk. They’re paired with mango in a sweet-tart salad, and served pickled alongside entrées like Hunter’s Stew, brimming with cabbage, sauerkraut, mushrooms, dried plums and onions sautéed in red wine, then ladled over noodles and smoked kielbasa. Pile a mound of gently marinated beets and onions onto rye bread, add a little butter, and dig in
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