This post is a day late, but I figure that the wait will have been worth it.
There’s no question that beets are one of my favorite vegetables, especially since it belongs in the category of ‘vegetables that don’t get enough respect’. One common criticism that some people have when they eat beets is that ‘they taste like dirt’. Here’s hoping that these two pictures might change your mind, or at least, inspire you to think differently. Both of the dishes pictured below are vegan and gluten-free, and more to the point, offer something new besides beets with goat cheese and walnuts (which I think is boring and overdone), and borscht.
A note about the format of these two recipes: they’re what I call ‘recipe capsules’. I’ve left out exact proportions for the most part, since these two recipes are fool-proof enough unless you go way overboard. If you decide to make them and if you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comment section.
“Beets and ramps”
This is a very simple salad that consists of roasted golden beets, chopped scallions, sliced ramp bulbs, mint, parsley, lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt, black pepper.
Trim beets of their tops and root ends. Halve or quarter them depending on size and place in a Pyrex baking dish, along with about 1/4 cup water. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil, then place in a pre-heated 350 F oven and cook for 30 minutes. When done, remove the beets from the oven and let cool. The peel should slip off easily. Cut the beets into bite-sized wedges and place them in a small bowl. Add minced scallions, 1 thinly sliced ramp bulb*, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, a small pinch of sea salt and an equal-sized pinch of black pepper. Mix well, then spoon onto salad plates and serve at once.
* Ramps won’t be available until next year (their season is from mid/late March to mid/late May). You can occasionally find the bulbs at farmer’s markets as late as the first or second week of June however. The bulbs are extraordinarily pungent … somewhere close to double that of a miniature onion.
Time: About 1 hour, including prep.
Zucchini “pasta”, with heirloom tomato confit and golden beets
This has three components: the zucchini "pasta", the heirloom tomato confit and the beets. The "pasta" consists of nothing more than shaved zucchini that was given a quick sauté in about 2 tablespoons olive oil. You can shave the zucchini with a vegetable peeler or a sharp paring knife. You don't want to sauté the zucchini for too long; the "noodles" should retain their pale green color. If they begin to brown, remove the zucchini from heat immediately.
The heirloom tomato confit is halved or quartered heirloom tomatoes (depending on size), olive oil, a small pinch of sea salt, a small pinch of black pepper and a very tiny bit of sugar, say about 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and less than 1/4 teaspoon of sugar for the entire pan. Arrange the tomatoes in a Pyrex baking dish. Sprinkle tomatoes with salt, black pepper and sugar. You can omit the sugar if the tomatoes are sufficiently ripe. Drizzle each tomato with a little olive oil. Roast the tomatoes at 350 F for one hour.
The beets were prepared as above for the salad by first oven-steaming them in order to remove their peel, then finely diced and sautéed in olive oil, with 1 finely minced shallot, and sea salt and black pepper to taste. Combine the zucchini, the tomato confit, and the beet mixture, and toss gently. Sprinkle the “pasta” with chopped fresh oregano and parsley, then serve at once.
Time: About 1 hour, including prep.