Posts Tagged ‘beets’

Beets with Greens_DSC_6222

We’ve been visiting friends who have their first garden growing on their deck in large planters.  We have been watching the beets grow and were beginning to see the glorious red globes peeking out of the earth when we left.  Beets have always been a favorite vegetable for me and now they seem to hold that same allure with my grandchildren – except the littlest one who hasn’t yet decided that vegetables are part of the necessary food groups.

My mother loved to make Harvard Beets which was the only way I refused to eat them.  I called them slimy….  You never see them anymore and, as far as I am concerned, this is with good reason.  If you’re not familiar with them Harvard Beets are diced cooked beets cooked in a very sweet, slightly vinegary cornstarch-thickened sauce.  Why any cook ever decided to add sugar to an already sugary beet is a mystery to me.

I am so delighted that beets are beginning to appear at the green market.  They will be on our table throughout the summer and early fall.  I prefer to bake them in their skins, wrapped in foil.  When done, I push off the skins, slice them and either pickle them or give them a quick sauté in butter, season with salt and pepper and toss in some fresh dill, parsley or tarragon.  So, yummy.


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My mom loved nothing better than a social gathering and was always prepared for a houseful of  guests.  One of her favorite cocktail snacks was pickled hard boiled eggs, so throughout the summer there was always a jar of them in the fridge.  Recently we were at a dinner party where the first course was a meze platter consisting of hummus and pita chips, prosciutto, olives, pistachios, and pickled eggs.  Our hosts had purchased the eggs at a local delicatessen and although they weren’t pickled in beet juice, they immediately reminded me of my mom’s.  So, when making pickled beets (with yellow and red beets from the farmers market) the other day I had to replicate her favorite eggs.  I think I left the eggs in the pickling juice a little too long but they were certainly a glorious color and tasted pretty darn good too.  One bit of warning – the longer you pickle them the tougher the white becomes, but it will never become inedible.  Here’s my pickled beet recipe, but you can also purchase jarred pickled beets and use that juice or make your own pickling liquid with any type of vinegar; just remember, whatever color the vinegar that will be the color of your eggs.  All you do is hard boil some eggs, let them cool, peel, and submerge them in pickling liquid.  If you like a little heat, add some fresh chiles to the liquid.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours to allow the egg white time to absorb the pickle.
A word about pickled beets.  When I was a girl, all kinds of pickles were on the table for every meal, even breakfast.  Home-canned jars of pickled vegetables of all kinds along with at least 4 or 5 different kinds of pickled cucumbers , sweet, spiced, and dilled set center stage.  Although there has been a recent resurgence in pickling (both in cookbooks and in the artisanal food movement), I think the only place that you might still find an array of pickles on the table is in an Amish farmhouse.

Pickled Beets
2 bunches fresh beets, washed, trimmed of the greens (remember to save the greens for a quick
    sauté in a little olive oil and garlic), and cooked
1 large red or sweet onion, peeled, trimmed, and cut, crosswise, into thin slices, then pulled into rings
1½ to 2 cups white (or other) vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoons caraway seeds, optional
Salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Peel and trim the beets; then, cut, crosswise, into slices about ¼ thick.  Place in a bowl.
Add the onion rings, tossing to combine.  Add the vinegar, sugar, and, if using, the caraway seeds.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss to blend completely.
Transfer the mixture to a nonreactive container – I like a glass refrigerator storage container or large glass jar – taking care that the pickling liquid covers the beets and onions.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using.  When covered and refrigerated the beets will last for up to 10 days.

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Sometimes a simple green salad is just not what you want on the menu.  And, sometimes, there is a little of this and a little of that in the fridge that needs to be used.  This salad is a little bit of both.  I had a couple of yellow beets that needed to be used and the remains of a bunch of mint so….Thai Beet Salad was my answer.  Here’s what I did….
Used my julienne peeler to cut the beets.  The mandolin to thinly slice half of a left-over hothouse cuke.  My fingers to pull apart the mint leaves and my beautiful Global chef’s knife to chop up a head of romaine lettuce.  Tossed them all together and then dressed the mix with a splash of miso-citrus vinaigrette made as follows:

¼ cup white miso paste
6 ounces rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon tamari
½ tablespoon ginger juice
½ tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
6 ounces canola oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Salt and pepper to taste, optional

Combine the vinegar, lime juice, mirin, tamari, ginger juice, and orange zest in a jar with a lid.  Add the canola and sesame oils, cover, and shake and shake to emulsify.  Taste and, if desired, season with salt and pepper.  This makes more than you will need for 1 salad, but it keeps well, covered and refrigerated, for up to a week or so.  Bring to room temperature and shake well before using.

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Beets are one of our favorite veggies – in the summer I pickle and can them and in the winter I roast them with orange zest and extra virgin olive oil.  And, the greens either become a toss with garlic and oil and mixed into pasta or simply work as a side dish.  When they are tiny and sweet, I shave them raw over all kinds of salads.  The big fat ones can be pushed through the mandolin and then baked into crisp chips.  The versatility of beets just can’t be beat – pun intended!  Beside their goodness, they are beautiful as they now come in multiple colors – red, white, pink, candy-striped, yellow – a veritable rainbow.  This bunch was roasted for one dinner and the greens were chopped and added to some kale for a dish of greens and beans in pasta (very simple – sauté the greens with garlic and red chile flakes in extra virgin olive oil – when they have wilted, add a well-drained can of cannellini beans, season with salt and cook for a few minutes to allow the flavors to meld.  Then, toss with any pasta, add a good measure of grated Parmesan, and you will have a peasant-style, delicious and economical dinner.

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