Saturday, January 14, 2012

Beet. It's what's for dinner.

I've given myself a very serious title. I crowned myself Ambassador of Beets. It's time people stand up for under-appreciated vegetables. My friend Sarah did it with Brussels sprouts at Thanksgiving. We had many starchy vegetables, rolls, cupcakes, cake, pies, meat...and the Brussels sprouts were the only thing we ran out of. She made a few believers of Brussels sprouts that night.

With me, it's beets. They're the cheapest things at the farmers market. For $3, you can get an impressive bunch with giant floppy greens and bright stems that respectfully fill a canvas grocery bag. Yes, they can be a bit...rogueish, and if you handle them a lot, your fingers will be pink for a few handwashings. It's worth it. Actually, the pink fingers are kind of fun. You can wear latex gloves if you're pink-averse, or just like to re-enact favorite ER scenes in your kitchen.

If you visit, I will probably feed you beets. We ate them during last year's Superbowl. We grew them in our garden last year. Last weekend, I packed them for our trip to the Oregon coast for regional proselytizing. I've made it my personal mission to convert everyone I can into a beet lover, and I have a few notches in my belt. You're up.

Hang on, y'all: BEETS. THREE WAYS.






First up is my favorite beet recipe so far. This one is simple, easy, cheap, and may knock your socks off. All you need is beets, onions, sour cream, dill, olive oil, salt & pepper. 

Swedish Baked Beets with Onions, Sour Cream, and Dill
adapted from Pure Simple Cooking; 4-6 side servings

1 ½ pounds beets (small ones preferred)
¼ c olive oil
salt and pepper
2 red onions, cut into half-moon-shaped wedges
2/3 c sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
1 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh dill (if using dry, use 1/2 tbsp)

Preheat the oven to 350. Wrap the unpeeled beets in an aluminum foil packet, leaving an opening. Drizzle with half the olive oil, season with salt & pepper, close the packet, and put into a roasting pan. Roast until tender, about 1 ½ hours. Put the onion wedges in a piece of foil, drizzle with the rest of the olive oil, season with salt & pepper, and roast on the other half of the pan for the last 20-30 minutes of the beets' roasting time. The onions should be tender and slightly singed at the tips.

When the beets are tender, peel each one (or leave the skin on, if you prefer) and quarter or halve. Season the beets to taste with salt and pepper and put on a serving dish with the onions. Daub the sour cream or yogurt over the vegetables and sprinkle with the dill. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Just a note: Of course fresh dill is preferable, but it's also pricier and perishable. I usually use dried dill, stirring it into the sour cream or yogurt with a little salt and pepper, and maybe a tiny bit of garlic powder.



Next is the most time-intensive recipe, but it sure is tasty. Beet gnocchi does NOT photograph well, so don't judge it on this picture. You've already seen a bit of the process involved here--the rolling of the gnocchi on a board. 

Beet Gnocchi with Rosemary

2 small beets, trimmed
1 pound fresh ricotta cheese
1 large egg
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups flour, divided
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

8 3-inch fresh rosemary sprigs
Additional freshly grated Parmesan cheese and basil slivers, for serving.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Wrap beets in foil and roast until tender, about 1 hour. Let beets cool (about 20 minutes) and slip the skins off. (I use a pinching motion to coax them off, but you can use a knife to scrape them off too.) Coarsely grate the beets into a large bowl. Add the ricotta, egg, 3/4 cup Parmesan cheesesalt, and pepper, and stir until blended. Mix in 1 cup flour. (Gnocchi dough can be made one day ahead. Cover and refrigerate until ready to proceed.)
Lightly dust baking sheet with flour. Place remaining 1/2 cup flour in small bowl. Using tablespoon measure as aid, scoop dough into rounds; transfer to bowl with flour, then roll each into 1-inch log. Holding the dumpling in one palm, roll the tines of a fork to make grooves. (You can also use a gnocchi board, if you're fancy like me and have one because of thoughtful parents of your boyfriend.) Transfer gnocchi to prepared baking sheet. (Gnocchi can be prepared through this step six hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate until ready to proceed.)
Melt butter with rosemary sprigs in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Cook until butter begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Set aside.
Working in batches, cook gnocchi in large pot of simmering salted water until gnocchi float to surface, about 2 minutes. Continue to cook 90 seconds longer. Using slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to skillet with butter and rosemary. Once all the gnocchi has been boiled, heat the butter and gnocchi over medium heat, stirring gently to coat and allowing to brown if you like. Transfer to plate; sprinkle generously with basil and additional Parmesan cheese and serve.


So now you've chopped off all those lovely beet tops. Well, surprise, Frugal Fanny! You can saute those bad boys right up, instead of buying kale or chard or collard greens for this next delicious recipe. 
  • Leek and Beet Green Tart
  • adapted from Bon Appetit

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (half of 17.3-ounce package), thawed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 large leeks (white and pale green parts only), coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 bunch beet greens, ribs removed and leaves chopped (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 1/4 cups whipping cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg

Roll out pastry on floured work surface to 12-inch square. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter tart pan. Squish the pastry into the flutes and up to the top of the pan, then roll a rolling pin over the top of the pan to trim off the extra. Cover and chill while you proceed.

Preheat the oven to 425° and position the rack in the bottom third of the oven. Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add leeks and thyme. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover; cook until leeks are very tender but not brown, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add greens; saute until wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool while you proceed.


Whisk cream and next 5 ingredients in large bowl. Mix in cooled leek mixture. Place the tart pan onto a baking sheet (just in case your pan leaks or overflows). Gently pour the filling into the crust, distributing the vegetables as needed. Bake tart for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F and bake until filling is puffed and just set in center, about 15 minutes longer. Transfer to rack; cool 10 minutes.

I have another beet recipe, but I'm not sure you can handle four. I like this trifecta thing I have going on anyway.

So who out there is making any of this stuff? Do you have a beet recipe I can't live without? Let me know in the comments! 

4 comments:

  1. i have made the beet gnocchi. In your kitchens. With a Ukrainian.

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  2. Ukrainians represent!!!

    This beet trifecta brought tears of joy to my eyes. Just when I thought beets couldn't get much higher on the virtuosity scale, now you tell me you can make edible stuffs with their greens, too! Almost too much - for a non-Ukrainian, maybe. I also got onto the beet wagon this weekend, believe it or not. (Are we on an aligned beet cycle?) I made a salad with roasted beets, garlic, prunes, walnuts and mayo. Before you start thinking that this is the beet version of meat jell-o, I urge you to try it! It's really good!

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  3. I got some beets, so I may try the gnocchi this weekend. I will, however, not be cooking them for 90 extra MINUTES after they float.

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    Replies
    1. Ah yes. Sorry about that. Try 90 SECONDS. I updated the recipe. Let me know how it goes!

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