Recipe: Beets Two Ways
Berkshire native Alana Chernila, mother of two, and author of the cookbook, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making (Clarkson Potter), dispenses change and cooking ideas to readers and friends. She shares her peak-of-the-season recipes with Rural Intelligence to help us make the most of what’s growing in our region. Her first cookbook has achieved top-seller status, and Chernila has just announced that she has a new one in the works; tentatively named “Meals from the Homemade Pantry,” due out in 2015.
This week we offer two roasted beet recipes, one with leeks, and one in a salad with kale. Here’s the first:
Alana says: Years back, I had a friend, Emily, and she was in town and came to cook for us right after Sadie was born. She made us beets and leeks, and many other wonderful things I’m sure, but those beets and leeks had lasting power for for me. I’ve done it so many times, and it always feels special. It’s the leeks, I think. Magical. And it’s nice to say, isn’t it? Beets and leeks. Kind of like Dr. Seuss talking about his farm share.
Cut the greens off the beets, leaving about 1 inch of stem. Leave the tail on. Wrap each beet individually in tin foil, putting a touch of olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper on each one before sealing the foil up. Roast in a 375-degree oven for and hour or so for medium sized beets, or more or less for big or small ones. Then take them out of the foil, and let them cool for a bit so that you can touch them. Slide them right out of their skins. Your hands will turn red. But I like that. Cut the beets in bite-sized pieces and put them into a bowl.
For a bunch of about 5 beets, I use 2 leeks, but one would do if that’s all you have. Cut the bottom root and the very top off the leek. Slice the whole thing in half lengthwise, and then slice both halves into 1-inch pieces. Transfer them to a bowl, add a touch of white or apple cider vinegar, and swish them around. This will release the dirt. Lift them out of the water into a colander.
Melt a few tablespoons of butter or olive oil in a skillet. Add the leeks and cook, stirring often, until they are just starting to brown and your house smells like heaven. Pour the leeks over the beets, and add a glug or two of the best olive oil you’ve got. Then salt, lots of pepper, and it’s ready.
And the second:
Beet and Kale Salad
2 medium beets
1 large bunch lacinato kale (also known as dinosaur kale in our house)
1 cup raw pepitas
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
1/3 cup olive oil
First, roast the beets (see how above). This takes a while, and so you can roast them at any time when you have something else in the oven - then you’ll have beets ready to go when you’re craving this salad. Cut into 1-inch bites.
Then make the smoky pepitas. Combine the maple syrup, smoked paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a small bowl. Mix well. Add the pepitas and toss to combine. Transfer to a small skillet and cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat until they start to pop and smell roasted, about 4 minutes. Set aside.
Wash and dry the kale. Remove the stems, then cut the leaves into thin ribbons. Transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the chopped beets.
Make the dressing: In a 2-cup Mason jar, combine the cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, mustard, honey, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, and olive oil. Put a lid on the jar and shake well.
Pour the dressing over the kale and beets. Toss until entirely coated. The salad can sit in the fridge for up to a day, or can be eaten right away. Sprinkle the pepitas over top just before serving.
Reprinted with permission from Eatingfromthegroundup.com. All text and photos copyright 2008-13 by Alana Chernila.