Monday, March 10, 2008

The Whole Beet

The first of our four CSA trial boxes has arrived. Though I am not sure how much of a “trial” it will be; after the first night’s dinner Jon declared it “wonderful” and “totally worth it”. On Friday night after picking up our box I made a quick stir fry (with onions, carrots and the stir fry greens from our box) accompanied by a recipe for baked broccoli with lemon and butter made according to a recipe in the CSA newsletter. Scrumptious. Since then we have also enjoyed Carrot Leek Soup, and a little Thrifty Kitchen Challenge emerged to create a recipe using all edible parts of a bunch of beets nestled in our box.

I found recipes in three different cookbooks for how to cook beets and greens, and spread them out in the kitchen to create, what I think I will call, a Warm Beet and Green Salad. The beet greens were the most intimidating; would they be bitter or need a long cook time to become tender? Nope. The greens had a subtle nutty flavor and were tender after only five minutes of light sauté. I loved every bite. My beet experiences are limited, but there is no doubt the high quality of these beets played heavily in the success of my experiment. Thanks Full Belly Farm for a great first week.

Warm Beet and Green Salad

One recipe I referenced suggested trimming the beet tops by leaving 1-inch of stem at the top instead of cutting down to the beet bulb, as a means of keeping the nutrients inside the beet during cooking. I really liked this, and the next time around would leave more of the “root end” as well. Another recipe bonus: the tactile sensation of removing the skins off of warm beets. Gotta try it.

Servings: 4, as a side dish
Cost: $3 (~The box price ($17) divided by the number of items (6) included)
Time: 40 minutes, 15 active

4 2-inch diameter beets with greens attached
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1-2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Pinch nutmeg

Perheat oven to 375 degrees. Set out a bowl of cold water with a couple ice cubes. Detach beet from greens 1-inch above the top of the beet. Scrub the beet clean and place in a baking dish. Fill the baking dish with ¼-inch of water, cover tightly with foil and place on middle rack of warm oven. Cook for approximately 25 minutes. Test for tenderness by piercing with a paring knife. Do not overcook. Remove from oven and keep covered for 5 minutes to finish cooking.

Meanwhile, wash, rinse and dry greens and remove stems. Cut into rough 1-inch pieces. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 T butter with 1 T olive oil. Add greens and toss to coat with butter and oil. Add lemon juice, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Once the beets are cooked, remove them from the pan and submerge into the ice water bath. Use your fingers to remove the beet skins. Transfer beets to a cutting board and cut into wedges or cubes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Gently toss with red wine vinegar and remaining 1 T olive oil. Place in serving dish and spoon greens over. Dust with salt and pepper and a pinch of nutmeg.

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