What do you do when you have a beautiful batch of beetses?
We got these from our CSA and they were totally gorgeous. Plus, somewhere along the line (and I really don’t remember how) we ended up with extra beet greens. So. Beautiful beets, and a ton of beet greens; this sounds like the beginnings of a feast to me.
I love…LOVE…LOVE roasted beets (as I’m sure you may have noticed from previous posts) but the thing about them is, they’re so distinct in their flavor I often find that recipes don’t do much other than emphasize their beety goodness. Not that that’s a bad thing, mind you. But, you know. Beets is beets.
My restless search for beet diversity paid off handsomely when I came across this recipe, which plays on different nuances of the flavor of the noble beet. Of course, because I am me, I had to change it a little, largely because who has fresh lemon thyme laying around? (OK, I know some people do, but I don’t.) And I wanted a peppery bite because I totally dig the interplay between cinnamon and black pepper. Here’s what I used.
For the beets:
- 2 cups of beets (-ish, that’s hard to measure, it may have been more like 2.5 cups, but ultimately, use what you’ve got), trimmed and peeled and cut into thick wedges
- 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper (admittedly this can be a little intense, so if you’re not ready for that much black pepper, be kind to yourself)
- 1/4 tsp (or more, to taste) Aleppo pepper/crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp each Balsamic and red wine vinegar
- salt to taste
For the greens:
- One large bunch beet greens, with leaves separated from thicker stalks (this saute would also work nicely with Swiss chard, FYI)
- Half a medium yellow onion
- As much garlic as you’d like (I generally use 3-4 cloves)
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 c veggie broth/water
- Salt and pepper to taste
Wash and drain your beet greens and stalks, and then set them off to the side because you won’t need them for a while. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Scrub, peel, and trim the beets, then cut them into nice thick chunks. Be forewarned…beets have…you know…THAT quality, wherein the beet juice will get all over your hands and the cutting board if you don’t coat yourself in rubber and…oh, GOD, the stains, the stains…
Really, I’ve discovered that beet juice stains are not so tragic. It washes out. If you don’t have a plastic cutting board and rubber gloves to protect against stains, then do yourself a favor: Don’t panic.
Toss your chopped beets into a baking dish.
Aren’t they pretty? I think they’re kind of bad-ass. Anyway. Once your beets are in the roasting pan, add in everything else. Yes, everything else that is beet (not greens) specific, and toss it with a nice glug of oil.
And into the oven wit’ ye!
Let these cook for 25-30 minutes, turning once halfway through the cooking time.
While they’re in the oven, turn your attention to your beet greens. I love beet greens! The sweet flavor of the beets is somewhat preserved in the greens (primarily in the red stalks) but there’s also the peppery bitterness that you find in all good greens. They’re an awesome flavor package. Beet greens are nutritional powerhouses (as opposed to rhubarb greens, which can kill you), packed with Vitamins A, C, and K, and are also a good source of calcium for those looking for non-dairy calcium sources.
Yes, you can get calcium from something other than milk. No, you don’t need a supplement if you eat right. Moving on.
Cut the onion into a small-ish dice and chop your garlic. Get them off the cutting board if you don’t have a spacious one; chopping large amounts of greens can take up a lot of room, so you’ll need as much choppable workspace as possible. Take your rinsed and drained greens and separate the stalks from the leaves–both are perfectly edible, but the stalks are thicker so you need to start their cooking earlier and give them a few extra minutes.
Start the onions and garlic sauteing with some salt and pepper, and after a minute or two add thyme. Chop the stalks into delicious bite-sized morsels and then? Once the onions are nice and soft and translucent?
Oh, yeah. Don’t forget to use a nice, roomy pan that you can cover, because there’s a lot of stuff you’re going to try and cook and later you need a lid. So. Beet green stalks are in the pan, getting chummy with the onions and garlic. Start on your leaves.
The easiest way to chop leaves like this is to stack them and cut them into ribbons. If you want smaller greens after that then have at it with your kitchen knife. What can I say? It’s not rocket surgery.
Give the stalks a few minutes to cook in with the onions, and by a few I mean a few. No more than five minutes, really. Then toss in your greens, and sprinkle nutmeg (or freshly grate it if you have the whole nut and a handy microplane) and a shot of salt and pepper on the greens. Give it a stir and let them saute.
They’ll probably start to sound kind of loud and angry pretty quickly as the water cooks out of them, which is fine, but don’t let that go on for more than a minute or two, because you want to make use of their moisture (plus some). Give another stir to make sure nothing’s stuck to the bottom of the pan, then add the 1/4 cup broth, put the lid on the pan, and remove it from heat. The objective is to let the greens finish cooking in their own steam. If the rest of the dinner is still cooking and you aren’t ready to eat the greens after a few minutes of steaming, knock the lid back so the steam can escape.
Put it all together. If you can put it on polenta, it’s a happy day! When corn (polenta is corn, after all) and beets get together, they pull out each other’s green grassiness. When that’s combined with the sweet and the cinnamon and the pepper and the bitter-ish crunch? OMG yes.
We ate this with Baked Pumpkin with Yogurt Sauce, roasted parsnips (recipe coming soon) and George’s extraordinarily delicious polenta, which is his specialty so you may have to ask him how to make it. I’ve never done it. He’s good at it. Win!
Do you have a favorite way to eat beets? And do you always eat the greens?
XOXO — Terri