fun with beets

This is a two-part experiment with beets. After missing my local farmer’s market for the last month due to traveling, I was very happy to finally go yesterday. It was a little overwhelming to see so much produce there since there wasn’t as much in season yet when I last went. I loaded myself up with as much as I could carry home, and also stopped by the farm stand around the corner from my house to grab a few more things. Armed with my bounty, what to make? When I experiment with ingredients, usually my final result is not at all like what I initially intended, sometimes great, mostly just so-so. In this case, I was pleasantly surprised.

beet dinner #1

roasted golden beets, Lebanese squash, and salmon

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First step is to cook the beets–I typically boil mine for 20-30 minutes, then run them under cold water while I rub off the peel. Then I can use them right away or store them in the fridge for later. After cooking the beets, I cut them into half-inch thick rounds. Lebanese squash looks like a pale green, almost grey, zucchini. I cut that up into half-inch thick rounds as well. Slice a red onion in half-inch thick rounds. Keeping everything the same thickness will help things cook evenly as well as make the finished product more attractive on the plate.

Toss the beets, squash, and onion with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet (makes cleanup easier!), and roast in a 450 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, until squash is to desired doneness–I like my vegetables al dente.

Meanwhile, salt and pepper your salmon and sauté it in a little olive oil on the stovetop. Probably no more than 3-4 minutes per side, depending on how thick your salmon filets are.

Arrange the beets, squash, onion, and salmon on your plate and squeeze some lemon juice over everything for a little fresh zing.

beet dinner #2

sautéed beet greens, golden beets, lebanese squash, red onion, green beans, and peaches

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If you’re anything like me, you don’t really like leftovers, and you always end up cooking too much food and are stuck with a week’s worth of leftovers. Well tonight was a successful repurposing of beet dinner #1, and that wasn’t even my original plan. I’ve tried beet greens a few times and haven’t really cared for them. The beets I bought yesterday, though, had such beautiful tops that I hated to throw them away. I decided to use the recipe I got from the market and see if I could make myself like them.

Wash the greens thoroughly and chop into bite-size pieces. I used the stems as well because mine were not too thick. Chop half an onion. Sauté the onion in some olive oil until translucent. The recipe says to add garlic at this point, but I didn’t have any so I left it out. Obviously. Cook the garlic a few more minutes. Add half a cup of water or vegetable broth to the pan and loosen up anything that might be sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes to the onion mixture. When it comes to a boil, toss in the beet greens and let them get coated in the onion mixture. Cook for approximately 10-15 minutes, until the greens are tender. (Recipe by Marta Sasala)

Here’s where I left the recipe and my leftovers came into play. After I cooked the beet greens for about 5 minutes, I took my leftover roasted golden beets, and squash, cut the rounds into quarters, and added them to the pan. I had some cooked green beans from two nights ago–I cut those into half-inch chunks and added them to the pan as well. Then I decided to cut up a peach and threw that in, too. I let everything warm through another 5 minutes or so, and then served it up.

Verdict #1: I like beet greens. Maybe it was because these were nice and tender, maybe it was the sweet heat combination of the sugar and red pepper flakes, or maybe it was pairing it with my roasted veggies from the night before. Regardless, I liked it, and I will happily eat the leftovers (of course I made too much) tomorrow night!

Verdict #2: I used to hate beets. It was my weekly market basket that forced me into experimenting with them until I found that I loved them. Don’t be afraid to keep trying foods you don’t like–you may eventually surprise yourself!

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