The humble beet is featured in several of the recipes in A tase of Life on Quadrda Island and many will be surprised to learn this garden staple was once considered an aphrodisiac. Vince Kehn Photography

The humble blood-red beet is the perfect complement to Valentine’s Day

By Kathryn Manry

First of a series

The newly released cookbook, A Taste of Life on Quadra Island, is a full colour portrait of coastal living, with a focus upon eating fresh, local foods prepared from scratch.

The humble beet is featured in several of the book’s recipes and many will be surprised to learn this garden staple was once considered an aphrodisiac. Certainly, it’s blood red colour makes it the perfect dish to serve your Valentine.

The Greek Goddess Aphrodite and the Romans believed eating beets heightened their sexual allure, a belief backed by modern science because beets have high boron content, a mineral that supports sex hormones. Beets also contain betaine, which promotes feelings of wellbeing and a relaxed mood.

In Europe, beets were initially grown for their leafy tops and as a medicinal to treat fever and constipation. But the root eventually became a feature of European cuisine too and through selective cultivation evolved into the large bulbs found in modern gardens, making it a culinary darling with diverse uses, from beet chips, beet juice, roast beets, to puréed beet sauce for dessert.

Borscht, a beet soup, is an old standby with regional variations throughout Eastern Europe. A pureed version featured in A Taste of Life on Quadra Island is offered here. The soup turns vivid pink and is delicious served either warm or chilled.

A Taste of Life on Quadra Island includes 140 recipes, running the gamut from seafood to camping fare. There are also profiles of foodies, and dozens of gardening and foraging tips. And the book’s newly launched blog offers additional recipes and tips: www.islandcookery.com/blog. The new book is available in retail outlets across Vancouver Island or through the website https://www.islandcookery.com/ at $34.95. Proceeds are a benefit for the Quadra Island Children’s Centre.

Cook up some beets and connect with your inner Aphrodite.

BUTTERMILK BORSCHT (COLD SOUP)

Nut Free

YIELD 4 SERVINGS

CONTRIBUTOR MARCY WOLTER, reprinted from the new book A Taste of Life on Quadra Island

INGREDIENTS

¾ pounds beets (about 4 medium beets)

½ cup chicken stock

2 cups buttermilk

1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped

1 scallion, chopped

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

¾ cup sour cream, divided (save 1/4 cup for serving)

METHOD

Trim the whole beets and cook in boiling water (or steam, for a slower process) until tender. Rinse in cold water, peel the beets, and cut into small chunks.

In blender or food processor, purée the beets with the remaining ingredients, reserving ¼ cup of sour cream. Refrigerate the borscht until chilled, which takes up to 2 hours.

Top each serving with a dollop of sour cream.

cookingQuadra Island