First, here’s an excerpt from the opening chapter of Sonya’s all-time favorite book, Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins:
“The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.”
Those serious beets have arrived, and with their arrival, we will soon find out if you are a beet lover or if you think you are a beet hater. Beets are definitely a controversial vegetable. They also have a bad reputation, courtesy of those disgusting, slimy canned slices that many of us were forced to eat as children. If that is the only way you’ve had beets in the past, you are in for a delicious and nutritious treat! The roots are highly packed with vitamins A, C, and carotenes, while the greens contains lots of vitamin C, calcium, and iron. Beets will store for more than three months and are available throughout the growing season. Use your beet greens fast, however, because they will only last for up to a week. To keep the roots, cut off the leaves and stems 1-2 inches above the root crown and store in a plastic bag in the hydrator drawer of your refrigerator. The recipes below will hopefully sway even the most determined hater of beets!
Chocolate Beet Cake
From Farmer John’s Cookbook
Oil and flour for preparing the pan
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 cup mild-flavored vegetable oil, divided
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 cups pureed cooked beets (about 3 medium beets)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 375 F. Lightly coat a 10-cup Bundt or two 9-inch cake pans with oil and dust with flour.
Partially fill the bottom of a double boiler with water and bring to a boil over high heat; reduce to a simmer.
Put the chocolate and 1/4 cup of the oil in the top of the double boiler. Heat just until the chocolate melts; remove from heat and stir until well combined.
Combine the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy. Slowly beat in the remaining 3/4 cup oil, chocolate mixture, beets, and vanilla.
Sift the flour into a large bowl. Stir in the baking soda and salt. Gently stir the flour mixture into the egg and chocolate mixture just until flour is mixed in. Pour batter into the prepared pan(s)..
Bake until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and set it on a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes.
Carefully remove the cake from the pan and let cool on the rack. When completely cool, dust with powdered sugar.
Also from Farmer John’s Cookbook; a Riverbank Farm crew favorite!
12 small or 6 medium beets, scrubbed
1/4 cup butter
2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
1 tbsp garlic, minced or pressed
1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated
1/8 – 1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Place beets in a small roasting pan with 1/2 cup water. Cover and bake until beets are easily pierced with a sharp knife, 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on their size. Allow the beets to cool slightly, then run under cold water, slip off their skins (this is optional…we often leave the skins on), and cut into bite size pieces. Preheat the broiler. Melt the butter in a small pan over medium heat. Stir in the honey/maple syrup, garlic, ginger, and soy sauce or tamari. When the ingredients are thoroughly combined, remove from heat. Put the beets in a shallow baking pan and pour the teriyaki sauce over them. Broil, stiring occasionally, 5 to 10 minutes.
Beet and Greens Pasta
By Carrie Floyd, from the Culinate Kitchen Collection
Serves 3 to 4
Total Time: 30 minutes
1 bunch beets, with greens
2 to 3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 shallot, diced
Pinch of dried red pepper flakes
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, basil, cilantro, and dill
½ lb. angel-hair pasta
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Peel and dice the beets. Dry and chop the beet greens; set aside.
2. Cook the pasta in boiling water until al dente and drain.
3. While the pasta is cooking, coat the bottom of a cast-iron skillet or sauté pan with olive oil. Over medium heat, cook the diced beets, shallot, and red pepper flakes, stirring often, until the beets are almost tender. Add the garlic, stir, and cook for 1 minute, then add the broth and lemon juice.
4. Bring to a simmer and cook until the beets are tender and the broth is reduced to a syrup-like consistency. If necessary, add more broth or water. Add the reserved, chopped beet greens, lemon zest, and chopped herbs. Stir and cover.
5. Once the beet greens have wilted, season to taste with salt, then toss the beet mixture with the drained pasta. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.
(Beets are high in folate, a vitamin that may help ward off heart disease. This dish delivers one third of your daily requirement! The goat cheese provides calcium and makes for a more satisfying meal.)
4 medium red or golden beets (4 oz each), stems and root ends removed
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp sunflower-seed oil
2 oz lowfat goat cheese
Heat oven to 400°. Wrap each beet in foil. Roast until soft, about 1 hour. Cool slightly; remove foil. Rub off skins; cut into wedges. Toss with nuts and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Add oil; toss. Divide among 4 plates; crumble cheese on top. Serves 4.
Honey Dijon Roasted Beets
2 pound fresh red beets
2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh mint, chooped (optional)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup honey dijon mustard
Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Remove greens and root from beets (but don’t trim closely). Place beets in medium bowl, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss. Transfer to roasting pan and spread beets in a single layer; roast in oven until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes for small, 45 minutes for very large.
Remove pan from oven and let beets cool. When cool enough to handle, remove skins and quarter or cut into eighths depending on size.
Melt butter in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add beets and cook, stirring often, until lightly caramelized, about 4 to 6 minutes. Drizzle lemon juice over beets and season with salt and pepper.
Stir in mustard and continue to cook over medium heat 2 minutes. If desired, add mint and stir to coat the beets. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
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