It’s interesting to note the difference between the produce in Italy (where I live most of the time) and that of Paros. For example, there’s alot of fennel blub and rocket in Italy that here is difficult to find– not that I’m looking for it as I prefer to eat only what’s local. Whereas in Greece, there’s a use of okra and beets not common in Italy.
Beets are so beautiful to look at. I would love to put them in a painting—there’s something really sensual about the red veins in the green leaves. So, attracted to their aesthetics, I bought some today just to lay them on the kitchen counter to stare at for awhile. But, because they are perishable, at a certain point I decided to stop looking and to start cooking.
“Pantzaria Salata” (παντζάρι σαλάτα) is a salad made with cold beets. It is basically boiled beets seasoned with garlic, vinegar, olive oil and salt but it is this simplicity that makes pantzaria salata amazingly flavourful.
There is another variation where the beetroot is cooked then mashed in with yogurt and walnuts. Not being Greek and not knowing how to follow recipes, I just dump the above ingredients into the blender along with garlic and olive oil to make a kind of dip.
As for the beet greens, I generally cook them apart—just sauté them in olive oil along with garlic and peperoncino. Sometimes I even add pistachios since they are a good source of protein and so easy to find here.
Above, my lunch: beet greens, stuffed zucchini and apricots. The zucchini, covered with a lemon sauce that had just a hint of tartness perfect for the groundmeat, was made by my neighbor, Angeliki, who periodically brings me the most incredible food. She is a wonderful cook, her moussaka and millefoglie are unsurpassable! (Did you notice how big that zucchini is?)
Apparently, you can even use beet juice to dye your hair. Beets along with red onions, red cabbage and pomegranates are great natural dyes for fabrics if you like pink and red. There are many ways to dye clothes using natural methods.
A couple of years ago while I was in London for the Design Festival and hitting the bookshops, I came across a book by India Flint (Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles). Having linked to her blog in the past, I took a look at it and of course had to buy it. She does something magical with plants, water and cloth that for some reason reminds me of kamasutra…the blending of separate entities to create a single experience.
India Flint: cloth and color
India Flint’s garments for wanderers under the label ‘prophet of bloom‘