Roasted Beets

Roasting beets is pretty simple. I trim off the foliage, and leave an inch of root. Rinse and set the greens aside for later use. Give the roots a rinse, no need to scrub. Then wrap the beets in foil, depending on the size, wrap up to three together and place on a baking sheet. You will see recipes with roasting temperatures ranging from 475F downward to 325F. My suggestion is cook them when you are otherwise using the oven and still have extra space. Depending on temperature and size they will take one to two hours. A light squeeze using a hot pad indicates when they are cooked to a tender stage. Let cool in foil wrapper, trim tops, and slip off the skins. Leave any unused beets wrapped, and refrigerated for up to ten days. Since juices may leak, store them together in a plastic bag.
The flavor of home roasted beets is rich and intense. Salads can be sublimely simple with only a touch of olive oil, wine vinegar and salt. Add chunks on top of a tossed green salad for flavor and color, or garnish with a sprinkle of toasted walnuts and blue cheese. Beets are high in folic acid and betaine, a natural anti-inflammatory. Also despite their natural sweet taste they have only 74 calories per cup.

Survivor Parsley & Swallowtails In the Garden

Hope you have had a good winter holiday. Like most of the country, we’ve been having the usual hard cold weather. We’re harvesting beautiful beets, kale, cabbages, a few carrots and the amazingly sweet Survivor Parsley.  Winter hardy plants typically produce extra sugars during cold weather. This acts as a natural anti-freeze and explains why the rugged, flat leaved “Survivor Parsley” is so deliciously sweet and flavorful in winter and spring.

Parsley is a biennial so seeds planted in spring and grows in size through summer and fall. The following summer plants flower, set seed and die. I like to leave a few flowering plants around because they attract butterflies to the garden. Here in Western Oregon, mature butterflies and  larvae of the lovely Anise  Swallowtail “Papilio zelicaon” feed upon the pollen, flowers, and foliage. This adaptable native is found from British Columbia to Baja California. We also regularly see larvae feeding on blooming Angelica plants. Even if your garden is small with only a few containers, grow parsley, a most useful herb. When it flowers you too may enjoy swallowtail butterflies flitting through your garden

Survivor Parsley and Angelica seed are available in our Nichols Garden Nursery catalog. In celebration of 2009 being our 50th year in business, we are offering notable Nichols varieties at introductory prices. Survivor Parsley is included in this listing. I’d also remind readers, if you haven’t received a 2009 catalog please go to our website http://www.nicholsgardennursery.com and request a catalog.