The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 6,487 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—9,234 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ
Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life …
For this week’s Garden Gate/Rootin’ Tootin’ Intermediate Level Merit Badge, I was excited to learn more about new my newfound buddies, the unassuming and oh-so-humble root vegetable. Not just learn more, but eat more, too (sorry, friends).
First of all, I planted my own: one super-neato thing about growing your own is how easy it is. Sign me up for that, since my green thumb tends to be more on the dingy grey side (but I’m learning). I decided to try beets and radishes because they don’t mind cold temperatures and they grow super-fast. I’m all about instant gratification, okay? Don’t judge.
Both are perfectly content to grow in my area and environment, so make sure you know what’s happy and native to your area before you pick your own. It’s never the most fabulous idea to force and transplant something that doesn’t belong, right? But don’t let those parameters stop you or give you pause; after all, even if carrots seem to be your best bet, did you know there are purple and yellow and even black varieties? Gorgeous and munch worthy, to say the least.
My radishes were ready—seed to picking—in as little as 20 days. I told you I was all about the instant gratification, didn’t I?
Here’s what I did with my radishes and beets:
Roasted Radish “Chips”
Thinly slice radishes and toss with olive oil. Spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with garlic salt. Roast at 375°F for about 20 minutes (time will vary, based on how thin the slices are and how your oven cooks), flipping once or twice. Five minutes before finished, toss with Parmesan cheese and bake until golden.
Flavor variations: use pink Himalayan salt and fresh dill instead of garlic salt and Parm. Or try a sweet and savory combo, like tossing with honey and cinnamon!
Radish Pickle Salad (Cuz everything is better in pickle form, am I right?)
Arrange thinly sliced radishes in your prettiest bowl. Toss with apple cider vinegar (any vinegar will work, but balsamic might turn your red and white radishes an odd shade of brown), a swirl of olive oil, 1-2 t salt (depending on your taste), one fresh garlic clove, finely chopped, and either a swirl of honey or a sprinkle of sugar. Add fresh herbs if you have them. Allow to marinate in the fridge for an hour or so to really develop the yummy flavors.
Wash and peel beets with a vegetable peeler (bonus: it’s not just for carrots anymore). Sauté over medium heat in equal amounts of olive oil and butter until softened. Toss with salt and pepper. You can also add in the chopped tops—the greens—and splash a bit of apple cider vinegar in at the end. Delish!
Wash and peel beets. Either slice or dice, depending which shape floats your beet boat. Spread on a well-greased cookie sheet and toss with salt and pepper, lemon zest, and olive oil. Roast at 400°F until crispy around the edges and soft in the middle. About five minutes before finishing the baking process, remove from oven and add in a grated hard cheese, like Parmesan or aged Gouda. Toss, and finish roasting.
Another idea for your root vegetables if your taste buds are skeptical: add them in wherever you use potatoes. Try it next time you’re making mashed potatoes: skip half the taters and add in parsnips or beets or celery root instead. See what your mouth thinks then. Me thinks it will be happy indeed.