Le BEET goes on…

beetscape, wilted beet greens

Wilted Beet Greens
Tossed with Garlic, Olive Oil, Red Wine Vinegar
Diced Thyme-Scented Roasted Red Beets, Whole-Grain Flaxseed Croutons, Roquefort

Beetroot Tails and Roasted Thyme Garnish

For a few days, my kitchen was overrun with beets – large and small organic red beets and all their greens, beet juice, beet syrup, baby candy stripe, and baby golden. Most went into the Golden Beet Salad and Candy Stripe Fettuccine, some were pickled. A few of the greens went into the charming beet & chervil centerpiece, and the remainder made this delightful wilted beet greens side dish. Not wanting to waste any part of the beet, I roasted the beetroot tails along with the beets and used them for a naturalistic garnish along with thyme sticks from the pan. These tails are edible too, they taste like beet jerky!

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Baby Candy Stripe Beet Fettuccine, Beet Syrup

Baby Candy Stripe Beet Fettuccine, Beet Syrup

Fresh Egg Fettuccine with Braised Red Cabbage, Red Onion, Roasted Red Beet
Red Wine Butter Sauce & Beet Syrup
Thyme-Scented Baby Candy Stripe Beet with Fresh Chervil

I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t toss those adorable blushing baby candy stripe beets into the pasta. Their charm would have been sadly lost. So the thyme-scented little chioggias were simply sliced in half and arranged around the pasta, with the most incredible concentrated beet syrup, and dainty little sprigs of fresh chervil.

We’re celebrating betacyanin, the pigment that gives beets their fantastic color, which also happens to be a powerful antioxidant. Candy Beet Fettuccine is the second course in a striking beet-centric vegetarian meal prepared for the 5 Star Makeover Cooking Group’s monthly challenge featuring the BEET. It joins first course, Baby Golden Beet Salad, in a color competition, posted yesterday here. Red, pink, or gold?

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Resplendent Baby Golden Beet Salad

golden baby beet salad
Roasted Baby Golden Beet, Gala Apple, Kumquat
Raw Sheep’s Milk French Roquefort, Pistachio
Dandelion, Butterhead, Roasted Poblano Vinaigrette
Tricolor Viola & Wild Mustard Flower Garnish

Roasted tarragon-scented sweet soft baby golden beets are paired with tart-crisp apple, bitter-spiky dandelion, creamy-smooth butter lettuce, zingy kumquat, tangy Roquefort, rich pistachios and a playfully-spicy poblano chile vinaigrette. It’s a very refreshing, harmonious, and somewhat surprising salad – which I submit to this month’s 5 Star Makeover Cooking Group Challenge featuring BEETS.

The 5 Star Makeover Cooking Group hosted by Natasha the 5 Star Foodie & Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks! is an outstanding monthly event for sharing ideas and creating gourmet makeovers of selected classic dishes or flavor combinations. It continues to be a great source of inspiration and my absolute pleasure to be on the team. Please visit their blogs this coming Friday to enjoy the round-up of super-creative beets recipes from this talented cooking group.

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More Beets

The Beet Fest Continues…

Breakfast Borscht
With a Poached Egg and Rye Toast

We were pleasantly surprised at this wonderful pairing for breakfast. The gooey poached egg took the place of sour cream, and with the earthy, slightly sweet and sour borscht, it was a winning combination. And the rye toast was the perfect complement. If you happen to make A Borscht Like Nana’s do keep some aside, or freeze, to serve for breakfast or brunch. You’ll have a delightfully unusual breakfast dish, with the simple addition of a poached egg and toast.
When making A Borscht Like Nana’s, the greens are removed from the root. The beets are simmered in water until tender. I kept the greens refrigerated until a few days later and made this vibrant side dish.

I also reserved one of the cooked beets, it didn’t go into the borscht, it was wrapped up and went into the refrigerator to pair with the greens later on.

Beet Root, Beet Greens
With Garlic, Shallot, Raspberry Vinegar
Briefly sauté minced shallot, garlic and red pepper flakes in half olive oil half butter. Then add chopped beet greens, cook until just about wilted and tender. Add the one diced beet and heat through. Finish with a splash of raspberry vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.
This concludes The Beet Fest:
Oh, and here’s one more, a great beet recipe from my archives:
What is your favorite way to serve beets?

A Borscht Like Nana’s

My Nana (paternal grandmother) was born in Kiev, Russia in 1894. In the 1960’s Nana and Papa lived a few miles from our house in Chicago. I remember coming home from school in the winter to kitchen windows that were all steamed up. Nana was at our house and she was making soup! I vividly remember Nana’s borscht. It tasted sweet, and sour, and it had lots of meat, short ribs to be exact.
Cookbook author Barbara Kafka has a recipe in her fabulous book, SOUP: A Way of Life, that reminds me of that borscht. She says she made it for her father who was from Slutzk, a shtetl (small town with a large Jewish population) near Minsk. Barbara’s Red Russian Soup tastes quite similar to how I remember my Nana’s soup.
My mother sometimes took notes while watching her mother-in-law cook, and that is how we were able recreate her delicious Meat Soup. Unfortunately, we have no recipe of my Nana’s borscht so I am grateful to Barbara for her excellent recipe and the inspiration for me to make A Borscht Like Nana’s.
To make this wonderful soup, you can follow the directions in my previous post, Beet Soup with Truffle Oil but do not purée. Additionally, simmer 3 lbs. beef short ribs in water until butter tender, 2+ hours. Trim the fat and cut the meat into bite-sized pieces. Add the de-fatted meat broth and meat to the beet soup. Simmer. Serve over a cubed boiled potato. Top the meaty borscht with a dollop of sour cream.

How apropos that my blogger friend Joan Nova of Foodalogue is featuring Russian food now on her Culinary Tour Around the World. I am sending this nostalgic soup over to Joan, to participate in her Russian adventure. Come travel to Russia with us!

Beet Soup with Truffle Oil

Beet Soup
White Truffle Oil
Crème Fraîche

Cover the beets with water. Bring to boil then simmer until very tender. When beets are cool enough to handle; trim, peel and slice.

Strain the beet cooking liquid through a coffee filter, reserve.

While the beets cook, bring stock to a boil in a large soup pot. Add carrot, cabbage, onion, garlic, tomato, bay leaves. Simmer for 30 minutes.
Approximate Quantities:
  • 4 or 5 beets
  • 1 chopped head cabbage
  • 1 sliced medium onion
  • 4 sliced carrots
  • 7 crushed garlic cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 bunch dill
  • 1 large can seeded peeled tomatoes
  • 8 c. stock ((beef or vegetable)
  • sugar, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste
  • truffle oil and crème fraîche for garnish

After about 30 minutes, add sliced beets, beet liquid, and a bunch of dill. And red wine vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for another 15 minutes. Remove bay. Purée with an immersion blender. Adjust seasonings.

Serve hot or cold. Drizzle crème fraîche, white truffle oil, dill sprig garnish. In the last post, I was pondering the value of “optional” ingredients. The truffle oil here is not optional. It is what makes this soup special!
One of the best wine pairings I can remember was enjoyed at Chef Nancy Oakes’ Boulevard in San Francisco where Chioggia beets (Italian heirloom variety) were paired with a fruity flavorful red wine from Brouilly. Definitely try this soup with a Brouilly if you can find one, if not, try a more readily available Beaujolais.

Delightful Color, Cheery Garnish
Highly Nutritious
Delicious Deep Earthy Flavors