We will never forget the moment a golden beet stopped us in our tracks. The iconic Chef Scott Crawford, who was cooking at the Cloister at Sea Island at the time but who recently opened Crawford & Son in Raleigh was in the kitchen at The Culinary Vegetable Institute at The Chef's Garden and we were watching him from above when he sliced open what looked like a vibrant red fruit.
It was the bright golden interior that brought us to a standstill. The dazzling contrast between the two colors was breathtaking. Once we caught our breath, we rushed down to ask him what kind of fruit he was working with and were amazed once more when he told us that it was in fact a golden beet that he had soaked in red beet juice to achieve the striking variation. The red juice has bled into the golden beet by about a half an inch creating a stunning visual that tasted even better than it looked.
All beets are descendants of the wild sea beet, a shoreline plant that flourishes along the Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines of Europe. This variety is similar to a weed and doesn't have an edible root. It was the Romans who first cultivated this wild beet variety but they coveted it more for its leaves than its root. We love golden beets for their smooth, creamy texture and the subtle earthiness that is mellower than a red beet.
We also love our baby golden beets because they reflect the sustainable farming ethos so important to chefs today by being a food waste solution since every part of the golden beet from its root to its stem to its leaf is as appealing to the palate as it is to the eye.
Like its red beet counterpart, golden beets are high in fiber, calcium and potassium. They also contain a phytonutrient called betalain which has both anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, making them ideal for the current food trend of consuming food not only for its flavor but for its ability to heal and detox the body and prevent disease.
Chefs love our golden beets because their color is dynamic but it doesn't bleed. The golden beet pairs well with so many different flavors including parsley, tarragon, tangerines, bacon, smoked fish, pumpkin seeds, wild game, hazelnuts and tangy ingredients like goat cheese, gorgonzola and buttermilk.