This recipe uses the word to refer to the wonderful color beets bring to this soulful stew. True bloodroot, however, is a member of the poppy family and is well-known for its properties as a medicinal and a dye. Found east of the Rocky Mountains, native tribes used it for war paint and to color grasses for basketry as well as ceremonial garb. Different parts of the plant have different uses, but the root rhizome contains a deadly poison, so caution is warranted.
I’ve been a bit deceitful about the word sunflower here, too, since the sandwiches in this recipe don’t contain the actual flower, rather butter ground from sunflower seed. To say “Bloodroot Stew with Grilled Sunflower Butter Sandwiches” muddles the alliterative S, so I deleted the word “butter,” again to shore up the phrase’s poetry.
Either way, this combination of earth-borne roots juxtaposed against butter from a flower that brings to us in essence and appearance our life-giving solar energy source is almost too much to think about. Better to sit back and enjoy the evolution as the other vegetables take on beet’s exotic Christmas-y hue.
Bloodroot Stew With Grilled Sunflower Sandwiches
3 pounds baby beets, peeled and halved
1 large Walla Walla Sweet onion, very coarsely chopped
6 cloves elephant garlic, muddled
2 pounds freshly picked young carrots, sliced
2 pounds baby red potatoes, halved
4 slices fresh, artisan potato sourdough bread
4 tablespoons butter
2 full slices Monterey Jack cheese
2 tablespoons sunflower butter
Blanch first 5 ingredients in 1 quart water for 10 minutes. Cover and simmer until beets are soft. Allow to rest 15 minutes. While stew is resting, melt 2 tablespoons butter on griddle. For each sandwich: take two slices of bread and spread 1-‐‑1/2 tablespoons butter on one side of each slice. Place non-‐‑buttered side down onto melted butter on griddle. When the griddle sides are browned, flip the slices. Spread 1 tablespoon sunflower butter on the browned side of one slice; place cheese slices on the browned side of the other slice. Put cheese side and sunflower butter side of sandwich together. Continue grilling sandwich on both sides,
flipping regularly, until both are evenly brown. Serves 4 half-‐‑sandwiches and 4 plentiful bowls of stew.