Beet in the Heat with Martha’s Ecuadorian Rainbow Beet Salsa
words and photos by Lia Pietrolungo
With the anticipation of August’s late-summer produce spilling from my hopeful basket, I padded along the fragrant grass at the Highland Square farmers’ market with fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes on my brain. Where there is a craving for these plump delights, there is the promise of perfectly scoopable salsa and lightly salted corn chips.
As I neared an heirloom sea sprawled across a table full of colorful produce, bunches of rainbow beets with long, vibrant green leaves laying atop one another commanded my attention. The earthy, bulbous vegetables shook my tomato craving from the vine, rooting themselves firmly into my attention.
Standing behind the table was Martha Gaffney, Ecuador native and namesake of Martha’s farm. With a joyful smile, Martha extended not only this versatile crop, but her personal recipe for Ecuadorian Rainbow Beet Salsa as well.
Light and refreshing, Martha’s salsa recipe is a locavore’s dream. Nearly every ingredient can be found at her produce stand. If her haul that day is missing a component, Martha won’t hesitate to point you towards a farmer who can fill the remaining space in your basket.
While martha recommends one ear of corn, you can either add another ear or omit it. If beets aren’t your bag, carrots can easily be substituted in the salsa.
Although Martha’s original recipe calls for BJ’s Garlic Farm Grilling Spices, my pantry could offer only Penzeys Salsa & Pico seasoning. Robust and complex, this blend of shallots, cumin, garlic, black pepper, Mexican oregano, paprika, cilantro, jalapeno pepper and chipotle pepper cuts through the sweet root vegetables and potent cilantro with a complimenting heat. Bright and zesty, the lime juice lends a clean note to this warm weather recipe.
If spicy salsa is your bag, add a few good shakes of chili powder to the mix, or skip the powder and toss in freshly chopped chili pepper instead.
From Martha’s Farm to your table, this recipe delivers easy preparation, a well-rounded flavor profile and ample room for variation. Should you find yourself at the markets this week, be sure to stop by the Martha’s Farm stand, load your baskets with holistically grown produce and say hello to Martha for me!
Martha’s Ecuadorian Rainbow Beet Salsa:
5 large Martha’s Farm rainbow beets
Kernels from one ear of corn, boiled or grilled
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 medium red onion, chopped finely
juice of 2 fresh limes
3 tablespoons BJ’s gourmet garlic farm extra virgin olive oil & garlic
10 twists of BJ’s gourmet garlic farm grilling spices
2 ears of corn
Trim beet stems, leaving two inches at the top as well as the skin intact to keep the deep pink pigment from bleeding into the water. In a large pot, boil the beets until slightly tender in salted water with at least 1 tsp of vinegar.
If you’re using carrots, chop off their tops and peel the exterior. Boil in a separate pot for a few minutes.
Rinse both veggies in cold water and slip the beet skins off with a towel. To make for easy salsa scoopin, finely dice the carrots and beets.
Combine your veggies of choice in a large bowl. Season the salsas to your preference. If you want to keep it simple, sprinkle on some chili powder, or your spice of choice. Add the lime juice squeeze by squeeze in between the spice additions.
Serve with chips, white rice, or have at it by the spoonful. Enjoy!
* Earthy and sweet, beets can be used in both desserts and savory dishes. Despite snubs from beet resistors, these rugged roots wait patiently throughout the season, ready at any moment to be celebrated in salads, purees and pickling jars. If you’re in the business of pairing beets with chocolate, head on over to the web to find my chocolate beet cake recipe. If you’re looking to use the greens, chop ‘em on up and add them to a salad, or wilt them in a pan with olive oil, a spritz of lemon juice, salt, pepper and sauteed garlic. *
The Highland Square Farmer’s market is held on Thursdays, from 4 – 7 pm in Will Christy Park at 1175 West Exchange Street. You can catch the Howe Meadow Farmer’s Market on Saturdays from 9 am – noon at 4040 Riverview Road, Peninsula, OH, 44264.
Despite her best efforts, Lia has yet to make it through an entire film in a movie theatre without dozing off at least once.