True confession #1: I was not a fan of ginger until about 6 months ago when I first got a few chunks of fresh ginger from the farmer’s market. There is a chasm of difference between fresh or new ginger and the ginger we usually buy in the grocery store. In the event you can’t find some fresh ginger, what you’re looking for at the grocery is ginger with the thinnest, lightest skin you can find. The less wrinkled, the better.
If you happen to stumble upon some new ginger at the farmers market, you can freeze it and save it for later. Seriously. It works.
True confession #2: Even though I think beets are the stunners of the root family, it took me a long time to warm to them. In fact, this recipe is the one that finally converted me to full on beet lover. The inspiration for this recipe comes from a much more bare bones, but equally lovely version, by the a.ma.zing Isa Chandra Moskowitz, in her book Vegan with a Vengeance.
I played around with flavors, spiced it up a bit and added the pecans because I love a little crunch in almost everything. I also tend to add sweet potatoes to this recipe, so it’s not strictly beets, which deepens the flavor of the dish and also I think sweet potatoes make everything better, but if you’re a beet purist, ignore the sweet potato suggestion and double the amount of beets.
1 lb beets, cut into 1/4inch chunks (or slightly larger); this is about 5 small beets or 3 large (about 1/2 – 3/4 cup of cubed beets)
1 small sweet potato, cut into 1/2 inch chunks (1/2-3/4 cup cubed sweet potato)
1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (2-3 medium juicy oranges)
1 tsp orange zest
2 inches fresh ginger, grated for “ginger juice”
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 cup pecans (chopped, if large)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
dash cayenne pepper
1 cup Quinoa
2 cups water
Cook the quinoa. Should take about 15 minutes, so once it’s done, you can set aside and allow it to cool
Mix the fresh squeezed OJ, zest, maple syrup, soy sauce and the ginger juice in a medium bowl. ***note: ginger juice, if you’re unfamiliar, is created by squeezing the grated ginger in your hands so that the juice of the ginger pours out and you can ditch the grainy pulp. It’s a little messy and if you have cuts on your fingers, it will sting. A lot. Actually, if you don’t wash your hands immediately after and the ginger is particularly fresh, your hands will burn a bit after as well. But still worth it for maximum flavor potency.
Then, add all of the ingredients in a large, wide saucepan with a cover. Turn heat up to med-high, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook for about 12-15 minutes covered, until the beets are soft enough to eat. Uncover and cook the orange/ginger mixture down into a glaze, about 4-7 minutes.
While the beets are still cooking, under the cover, prepare the pecans. In a small, dry saucepan place the pecans and toss with cumin, turmeric and a dash of cayenne.
Turn the heat to medium and toast gently for a few minutes, until the pecans are fragrant. Set aside and allow them to cool.
Once the beets are done, add the beet mixture to the quinoa and stir well. Then add the pecans and any extra salt totaste. Serve hot. I ate mine with kale on the side, which was an excellent compliment.
This recipe is also fantastic as leftovers, but if you love this recipe as much as I do, you might have to fistfight anyone with arms length of the refrigerator for them the next day. Just a friendly warning.