Monday, October 25, 2010

Beet It

When I was a kid I had never tasted beet anything.  I'd seen cans of them in Momma's emergency food pantry (we were in earthquake country--had to be prepared!), but the picture on the front didn't exactly look appealing.

Then I met Taylor, a true Hobbit in his love of all things root-ish.  If it grows in the ground, he'll eat it (alright, he'll eat almost anything, but especially roots).  One day when he went to the farmer's market with me, he proudly showed me a large bunch of well-endowed beets, greens included, and said, "Look, Annie! Beets!! Let's get some."

We boiled those, that night, and they were tasty. In fact, I was plainly surprised that the beets had a taste at all, since I couldn't imagine what purple vegetables should taste like.  I was hooked. I wanted more beets (and, admittedly, the first time I saw beet pee I was momentarily shocked. But that passes.)

Next time I did beets, I had them in a beet salad (from this salad book--so delicious!), roasted.  That was the end for me, folks :) I won't have my beets any way but roasted now (unless it's in a soup, but really? why give up all that lovely texture by blending beets into a soup?).  They are perfect roasted, keeping all the integrity of their flavor: perky, tender, and juicy all in one mouthful. I love gently pressing my knife into these sensuous vegetables and drawing out a bright magenta blade. There are such lovely colors in food.

And, later on, I even discovered a good way to take care of the greens! You can make pesto with oodles of basil leaves or garlic scapes.  But, when I realized you can make a pesto-ish sauce out of anything, why not beet greens?

I haven't decided what to call this yet. "Beet Paste" sounds.. weird.

1 bunch beets
oil of choice
1-2 cloves garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Separate beets from the stalks. Wash the beets and greens and stalks thoroughly in the sink, making sure to wash off all the dirt.

Lay beet greens around the bottom of a dutch oven.  Drizzle with a bit of olive oil (just for moisture in the cooking process), and lay the beets on top of the greens.

Roast at 350 degrees for 30 minutes to an hour, or until the beets are tender. (Smaller beets will not take very long.)

Place beets aside (and chop them up, toss with butter and salt, and have a lovely, warm side dish with your dinner!) and transfer beet greens to a food processor and pulse the heck out of them, adding oil as necessary to get a nice consistency.  Add garlic and salt and pepper, pulsing to mix, and tasting as you go along.

This spread goes great with sourdough toast! And what a great way to use up beet greens, huh?


  1. Oh my. I know our taste buds change every seven years and we're supposed to try something new, but it is still tough for me to like beets. :)
    That being said, I had the most amazing beet salad last Fall. It had three types of beets, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, walnuts and goat cheese. It was divine. I may try this beet paste. I trust you. :)

  2. it's super tasty, Alex! It doesn't taste particularly beet-y at all, really, because of the garlic. I haven't tried it with any other seasonings.. though I wonder if it would go well tossed in a nice light pasta dish? Beet pesto pasta? It'd be a pretty purply-red :)