f you associate beets with a childhood memory of purple cubes in a viscous sauce, it’s time to take the vegetable out of the can. “We’re talking about a very versatile root vegetable,” says Kevin Johnson, chef and owner of The Grocery restaurant. “Beets offer a sweetness that is a great contrast to the more bitter vegetables we have during the cooler months.”
Johnson creates a vibrant Valentine’s-worthy salad of baby beets, noting with a wink the vegetable’s “power as an aphrodisiac.” He combines roots and greens in a savory side dish enriched with sherry vinegar and blue cheese. And he gives beet soup a 180-degree spin, using golden beets instead of the customary red and centering the soup around a petite scallop salad.
The beets at The Grocery are local, coming from Rebellion, Ambrose, or Lowland farms. When buying, “small beets should have greens intact that look fresh enough to eat,” Johnson instructs. “If buying large beets without greens, they should be dense, heavy for their size, and without any holes or soft spots.”
DISHING IT UP WITH CHEF KEVIN JOHNSON
RESTAURANT: The Grocery
ACCOLADES: Garden & Gun’s John T. Edge listed The Grocery as one of the 2012 “Must Eats: New restaurants worth a stop.”
FIRST F&B GIG: “A vegan bakery, but I saw the light”
EDUCATION: Johnson & Wales University
FAVORITE LOCAL INGREDIENT: Field peas (crowder in particular), oysters, soft-shell crab, and corn
SECRET RECIPE/NAME A DISH OR RECIPE THAT YOU'LL TAKE TO THE GRAVE: I owe a lot of my success to the many people that have shared their knowledge with me - both those that I have worked for, worked for me and the peers that I continually collaborate with. I hold no secrets due to how much has been shared with me. Also, a recipe is only the starting point so I'm happy to share anything.