Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Three Beets, Three Ways

In the house I grew up in, there was likely to be about fifty cans of beets in the pantry at any given time. My dad just loved them. They fell out of the can in a perfectly cylinder shape with ridges mirroring the shape of the can. They were super sweet, bright red and very, very soft. They were served straight up in a bowl. Basking in the glow of performing accompaniment. In my parents' defense, it wasn't terrible. I ate them. But I didn't love them and haven't been too keen on embracing them as an adult. Seriously, I had eaten enough beets from ages 7-12 for a whole lifetime.

Fast forward twenty or so years and I'm now re-introducing myself to beets. In real life (non-canned variety), they are pretty darn irresistible. And who can pass up a vegetable where you can eat both the root and the leaves? Now that's what I call efficiency! Hubby brought home three beautiful golden beets from his last grocery trip. I didn't want to deal with red hands, red counter tops and even the dreaded red pee. (yes, I just got the yellow flag for violating the first of rule of cooking blogs: no bathroom humor)

Besides being very tasty, beets offer tremendous health benefits. According to the George Mateljan Foundation, beets are particularly rich in the B vitamin folate, which is essential for normal tissue growth and can prevent birth defects -so they play an important role in the diet of a pregnant woman. Also, your kids will love them because they are so sweet yet low in calories.

So yesterday, I had three perfect beets and their greens to make myself a meal. I was shocked and delighted that I squeezed three full meals out of them.

Karen's Roasted Golden Beets and Goat Cheese Salad

1 roasted golden beet, sliced

1.5 oz of goat cheese, crumbled

1 cup of beet greens

2 T extra virgin olive oil

1 shallot, sliced

Kosher salt & pepper to taste

I cut the greens off each beet and put them aside. Scrub, scrub, scrub those beets. It literally looked like a different vegetable once I got the layer of dirt off. Then, I wrapped all three of my beets in foil tightly. Although this recipe called for one beet, I knew I would use all three at some point this week. I placed the beets on a baking sheet and roasted them for 90 minutes in the oven (400F). It's important to make sure all the beets are about the same size, so they will cook evenly. The beets are done when you can slide a fork or knife until them easily. I let them cool for thirty minutes and chose one for my salad. Remove the foil, and wipe the thin layer of skin off with a paper towel. I then sliced it up and put it aside.

Next, the greens. I washed these very carefully and spun them in my salad spinner. Wheeeee!!! I love to see those greens spin. In a medium skillet, I added the extra virgin olive oil and cooked the shallots on medium low heat for about 4 minutes. Then I added the beet greens. Like Swiss Chard, they are hearty, so it took a while for them to soften bit. They will not wilt like spinach, which is much softer. I cooked them until they were tender. Be sure to add salt and pepper to your liking.

Finally, I plated the greens along with the goat cheese and beet slices. What a lovely lunch it was. Later I realized it would have benefited from a drizzle of my heirloom tomato balsamic vinegar. Oh well. Next time.

Later in the afternoon, hubby was coming home in the middle of the day to take me to the podiatrist. The ankle is healing, thankfully, albeit slowly. I start physical therapy tomorrow! Hubby asked for a sandwich to eat on the way. I put this together and I actually enjoyed it more than my salad.

1/2 roasted golden beet, sliced

1/4 cup of red grapes, halved

4 slices of turkey breast (thin deli slices)

1/2 cup of beet greens (steamed)

1 oz goat cheese crumbles

2 t balsamic vinegar

1 sun dried tomato tortilla

After steaming the beat greens in a Simply Glad steaming bag for a minute, I mixed all the ingredients together in a bowl. Then, I rolled the mixture up in the tortilla. Voila! Lunch on the run. Okay, I admit, I did slice a small piece off to try myself. The sweetness of the beets, grapes and vinegar just hit the spot.

Finally, the third and final dish was Cooking Light recipe.

Pasta with Beet Greens and Raisins

8 ounces uncooked pennette (mini penne)

1/4 cup raisins

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups coarsely chopped trimmed beet greens

2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic

1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Cracked black pepper (optional)

Cook the pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain. While pasta cooks, place raisins in a small bowl; cover with hot water. Let stand 10 minutes. Drain.

While pasta cooks and raisins soak, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add greens and garlic; sauté 3 minutes or until greens are tender. Stir in pasta, raisins, almonds, salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper; toss to combine. Sprinkle with cracked black pepper, if desired.

  • I used whole wheat penne pasta, instead of white. I seriously can not remember the last time I had white pasta. I know it's healthier, but the real reason is it's just simply tastier.
  • My pantry is now stocked with dried fruits up the whazoo. I use raisins, cherries, cranberries and apricots all the time to add sweetness to savory dishes. I picked golden raisins for this dish and I think it was the right choice.
  • This was absolutely scrumptious. I saved the best beet dish for last!

After all that, I still have a cup of sliced beets left! If you're watching your budget - as we all should - beets give you the most bang for your shopping buck.


Ricki said...

Wow--all three variations sound yummy. I love beets (red or otherwise!) and use them often. Glad you've turned over a new (beet) leaf on that topic!

Mo said...

Um, that sandwich/wrap sounds divine! I'm definately trying that the next time we pick up some beets. Last night I had some on a roast beef sandwich with blue cheese and balsamic reduction. (at a restaurant) It was quite tasty!

Kitchen Queen Victoria said...

A few years ago I planted beets and they were wonderful, just steamed and cut into chunks. I had previously only had the canned kind (your Dad's favorite!) and was surprised at the difference. But, for some reason, I never planted them again. You have inspired me (with that salad, especially) to pick some up at the store next week. Thanks so much for your beet-posting! :)