I’ve moved a lot, both growing up and now in my adult years. More than occasionally I get the, “How do you do that?” round of questioning, mostly from people that consider a significant move an over-filled pick-up truck unloading across town. Now, don’t get me wrong, a move is a move. But some are more uprooting then others.
We’ve been in Jacksonville for about 3 years now, and I’m starting to get a tad bit antsy about where we’ll go next. At night, Rob and I lie in bed perusing Zillow, dreaming of a possible destination for our next Coast Guard-led adventure. Port Angeles, Detroit, Boston, not much is out of the running except for land locked areas, most of which we wouldn’t want to live in anyway (sorry, Oklahoma. Been there, done that). Of course we look at houses that are waaaaay beyond our means – with kitchens that just might make me famous – but it’s just a fun torturous game we play. Like window shopping at Gucci.
Everywhere we go we try to squeeze everything we can out of the location, and we have only a year left in north Florida. We’ve done a lot here, but definitely have a lot more to go, do, and see. Though altogether we’ve found things we love (paddle boarding, the bird life, dolphins, good shopping), and really don’t love (the bugs, the heat, the bugs, the heat, oh and snakes. Well, I don’t mind the snakes, but Rob runs away like a little girl).
In terms of one of the more important things in life – food – we’ve also found our regional likes and dislikes. Sorry, Southern folk, we haven’t taken to the oddly-hairy-yet-slimy-at-the-same-time-omg-who-created-this-thing called okra, nor have some traditions (potato salad at Thanksgiving?) found a settled place in our hearts. BBQ, however, that’s a love story. So are the sweet onions. Also, honey. And so are the beets.
I’ve never actually documented the epic argument Rob and I had over beets. Maybe one day. But, beets! Really? Aren’t there better things to argue about, like sponges or spoons?
Well, we’ve grown in our relationship since arguing about beets (thank goodness) and now we can’t go a week without them. Luckily, farms in Florida grow beets almost year round, and the months they don’t, the red roots keep for a long while in a crisper – if they last that long. Thankfully, our CSA provides us with bunches regularly. We eat them straight from the oven, or cold with a bit of vinegar and honey. I’ve chopped them up into fancy tapenades and relishes, used their juice to dye Easter eggs, and have even infused vodka to make a fancy beet cocktail. Beet options are endless.
So then why are restaurants only serving beets with the standard goat cheese and arugula? I mean, some have pecans, some do a balsamic reduction drizzle, but really they are all the same. It’s so sad! Culinary monotony at its best.
So let’s turn the tables, shall we, and shake up the beet world.
With these: Beet Tacos.
Vegetarians, unite! Meat Eaters, indulge! Paleo folk, take a shower from your last CrossFit workout and pick up one of these tacos (sans cheese and crema)!
These are simple enough for a weeknight, but impressive enough for easy entertaining. Having spent enough time in Mesa, Arizona, I prefer the small corn tacos to flour, and I feel their earthy flavor compliments the sweet beets wonderfully. Chipotle crema is nothing more than 1 c Mexican cream (found now at most grocery stores), 3 chopped up chipotle peppers, lime zest and 1 tsp of agave. Every Mex dish needs some beans, which are super simple to prepare. Heat some canned black beans (drained and rinsed) in a pot over medium heat with ½ c water, 1 glove of garlic, and a sprig of mint. Once boiling, remove from the heat, discard the herb and garlic, season the beans with s&p, and smash them with a fork. For the star of the show: In a foil-lined baking dish, roast 4 peeled beets at 400 degrees with a dash of s&p, a drizzle of canola oil, 1 tsp cumin, and a whole jalapeno (sliced down the middle) until beets are tender, about an hour and a half. The fresh topping of crisp cilantro (tear off stem) and soft shredded romaine (roll 2-4 leaves like a cigar then chop into thin strips) top off the bite with herby freshness. For an optional creamy, salty indulgence, crumbled Queso Fresco tops the taco with ease. Oh, and don’t forget the squeeze of that lime you zested earlier (it’s not just a margarita garnish, you know).
When Rob and I were dating, tacos were our go-to dinner date. Here in Jacksonville, we haven’t been able to find quite the same ole(!) experience as I we had in the South West. Remembering those fresh flavors, I decided to create my own using one of Jacksonville’s finest produce, the bodacious beet. Yes, bodacious.
With Cinco De Mayo coming up, enjoy these tacos with friends and maybe a marg or two. You’ll get the best of two worlds, or at least the best of two regions of the U.S. (speaking from lots of moving – and eating – experience here, folks).
*ingredients and instructions above.
Put the corn tortilla on a plate. Spread some of the smashed black beans on the tortilla. Top the beans with some roughly chopped beets. Then Top the beets with the lettuce, cilantro, queso fresco, and a drizzle or two of the crema. Squeeze the juice of a lime slice over the top, and you’ve got seriously one of the best tacos you’ll ever eat.