Beet Greens, Herbs and Butter Lettuce Salad

The Table Was Set…

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The Harvest Prepped…

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And An Herbed Beet Greens And Butter Lettuce Salad Was Born!

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If you’re getting a CSA or shopping the farmer’s markets, look for healthy and perky leaves on your beets for a double whammy as beet greens make fabulous salad. They have a wonderful, rich, mellow flavor, and their tender leaf makes for a nice crisp salad chew! I chopped the greens and thinly sliced one beet for a quick salad, but should experiment with the tearing method as the greens may have a better aesthetic that way.

Aesthetics aside, the flavors in this salad were quite complex and enjoyable. One of my weekend menus called for Farm Fresh Spring Rolls that were to include rice noodles, beet greens, butter lettuce, mint, basil, fennel and dill, but I ran into a bit of a materials snafu and had to alter the course. Before I discovered my missing ingredient (forgotten spring roll wraps), I made a spicy sesame ginger dressing which ended up topping the beet greens and spring roll herbs in a wonderful accident. Toasted sesame oil pairs well with the buttery nature of beet greens and the ginger-garlic-spice made for an interesting and delicious surprise flavor.

Here’s an approximate recipe for the dressing. You will want to taste and adjust especially the soy sauce. I don’t like the dressing too salty, so find that I add the aminos slowly.

Spicy Sesame Ginger Garlic Dressing:

  • 1 cup toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. Braggs Liquid Aminos
  • 2 Tbs. honey
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 inch piece ginger, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. dried chile flakes

This salad was followed by a simple collard stir fry with ginger and garlic,  spicy tofu and jasmine rice.

After All Was Said And Done…

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Vitamin Supplement Number Two – Beety Tweety Bird Nests

Last week when I went for groceries, the goal was to make the cart look like a CSA box. Midwinter legumes, grains and soups have been great, but this time of year you may feel your body craves the vitamins from more rainbow-colored foods. At the grocery two things particularly caught my attention: beets and greens. I bought four hefty deep purple roasters as well as mounds of kale and swiss chard. Last week’s Beet Sweet and Kale Soup was so satisfying, I’m loving the look of the ruby-red long grated strands, so having two of the beets already roasted in the fridge made this warm salad really easy to make. I filled the nests with a Greek yogurt seasoned with salt, pepper and a bit of minced ginger, but can imagine them stuffed with sautéed mushrooms and goat cheese, humus, or just shaved pieces of Pecorino Romano.

This will make approximately two dozen nests depending on how large the beets. The beets I had were big ones – about four inches in diameter!

Ingredients:

  • 2 large beets roasted then grated
  • 1 inch chunk fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbs. minced red onion
  • salt/pepper
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1/2 cup semolina flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

Directions: Preheat oven 425 degrees.

Mix all ingredients and spoon into greased muffin tins. Use the back of a spoon to form an indentation in each mound of beets. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove the nests immediately from the muffin tins or they may stick.

Vitamin Supplement Number One – Beet, Sweet and Kale Soup

Enough of the death dirge already!  I hear you. A few of my “fans” have been concerned that the black shroud and “Mock Chicken” was a sign of death to the blog. Perhaps I was one of those bloggers not quite willing to come right out and wrap it up, you thought. Truth be told, I never intended to be away so long, but in all my moments of cooking, have had little to motivate. Summer’s end brought me back to work with no weekly CSA and little motivation. The family plate reverted to our standby Mexican stuffed burritos with a variety of salsa, simple soups or stir-fries. Not much that was blog-worthy, I’m afraid.

Today, the sun is shining brightly over Minnesota, and this winterized body is craving some vitamins. A stop at the grocery, and the fridge is filled with chard, kale, beets, broccoli and a variety of fruits. Here’s what I came up with for Vitamin Supplement Number One:

Ingredients:

  • 2Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 large beets, peeled and grated
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated with beets
  • water to cover veggies
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 Tbs. Garam Masala
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bunch curly kale, deveined and sautéed in olive oil
  • Slivered almonds, toasted

Directions:

1) Wash and devein kale. Chop and saute in a splash of olive oil. Cook until just wilted and still bright green.

2) Grate sweet potatoes and beets. Place in large stock pot with olive oil and water to cover. Add salt and pepper, vinegar, honey, garam masala. Bring to slow simmer and cook until beets are just tender.

3) Toast slivered almonds in a dry skillet. Keep the almonds moving, and toast until the edges start to brown. Turn the toasted almonds out onto a cool plate.

3) Serve in large bowls with greens and toasted almonds on top.

Molly Moon Antipasto

In Reader’s Workshop, we teach students to make connections to text as a way to increase comprehension and build knowledge. Good readers always do this, and rarely think about the fact that it’s happening. A section or event in a book might cause the reader to make personal connections to something in their life, they might make connections to something in the world that is similar to events or ideas in the book, or they might make connections to other books. Making connections happens all the time. In fact, most of us travel through the intellectual endeavors in our lives constantly making connections to what we have experienced or already know. This is the way our knowledge and understanding grows.

Take me for example, when I sliced these lovely beets this morning, I was reminded of a book that Max and I read last year. The book is called Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism by Georgia Byng. It’s about a homely orphan girl growing up in England who happens across a book that teaches her to use hypnotism. She discovers that she is a very powerful hypnotist who is able to change the people around her and uses her new powers to have amazing adventures. She travels to New York, stars in a Broadway play, and eventually finds herself being chased by an evil villain who wants to use Molly’s power in order to rob a bank. The front cover of the book shows Molly’s dog, Petula, a bug-eyed pug with spiral hypnotized eyeballs that look just like these beets! A connection.

Molly Moon Antipasto:

  • 6 medium striped beets
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. maple syrup
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 handful mint, chiffonade

Directions:

Roast the beats at 375 degrees for 45 minutes, or until you can pierce them with a fork. Let them cool and then peel the skin off. Slice the beats into rings. Mix the marinade, pour over the beets and let them sit for 4-6 hours. To serve, place the beets on a serving platter and top with mint.

The Beet Goes On

After all those beets last summer, the last thing I expected to crave mid-winter was the flavor of the ruby-red tuber. It’s true. As of late, I’ve been pining, dreaming and in a constant state of agitation every time hunger strikes. To make matters worse, last weekend I bought a very noisy pomegranate. Every time I opened the fridge, there it was peeking at me through the crisper drawer  shouting, “BEETS! BEETS! BEETS! I want to eat BEETS!”

Fortunately, there was an easy solution to this incessant craving. In the freezer was one lonely container labeled, “Beet Bruschetta – Sept. ’09. Add feta and mint.” I decided to thaw it out and run it through the blender. I did not add the feta or mint although mint would be lovely. I did add a little more raspberry vinegar and olive oil to thin it out a bit, and then warmed it. Since it’s thicker than a traditional salad dressing, I thought it would present itself more appropriately on the bottom of the plate. The greens, cukes, thinly sliced onions and pomegranate seeds float on top.  Entonces, last summer’s Beet Bruschetta became today’s warmed beet vinaigrette, and those darn little pomegranate seeds had a fun ride on top. Now we’re both happy, and the salad –  a perfect mid-winter jewel.

To make this warmed beet vinaigrette, follow the above link to Beet Bruschetta.  Make the recipe, but leave out the feta cheese and then add about 1/4 cup more vinegar and 1/2 cup olive oil. Puree in a blender.

Spanish Lesson: Entonces means So.

Hide the Beet

This is one of my favorite kitchen games as of late! How many different ways can I sneak these tuberous rubies into the food we eat? Most creative wins! This week we’ve had them in apple crisp – that was tasty – and now they are pureed and hanging out in the latest version of Black Bean Chile. All that manganese, folate and fiber are said to fight against colon cancer. Hopefully my game has a payoff.

Chile, or any soup for that matter, is a great hiding place for many veggies, and if you have a kid who likes soup, consider yourself lucky! Just think about all the vegetables that can be hidden when properly pureed or otherwise disguised. Max never guessed that there was a beet in the soup, but the first thing he said was, “It’s so red!”

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You probably won’t be able to replicate this recipe unless your freezer looks like mine: pesto, homemade chile paste and corn, but remember, Chile is a great place for hiding nutrient rich tidbits! Last summer I took three or four huge bags of dried chiles (chipotle, guajillo and de arbol), reconstituted them and made them into a paste which I froze in a cake pan and then cut into squares for individual servings. I didn’t record the recipe and don’t remember how it was done…sorry.

The basics of the Chile recipe are here:

  • 1 large onion, sauted in peanut oil
  • 1 head of garlic, minced
  • 1 pound black beans, precooked
  • 4 cups frozen corn
  • 4-6 tomatoes, pureed or diced
  • 1 roasted beet, peeled and pureed
  • 2-4 Tbs. Chile Powder (I used my paste)
  • 1 Tbs. cumin
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • salt, to taste

Chestnut Crabby Crisp

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What a lovely little blushing princess is this! She’s called the Chestnut Crab, about the size of  a golf ball, just sweet and tart enough for a demure little nibble, with a finish reminiscent of childhood in the tree. The Chestnut is flying off the shelves of your local co-op because folks like Dan Walsh know their pleasures.

You may have met Dan and his family if you visited the Kingfield Farmer’s Market. The Walsh family spends their summer tending heirloom tomatoes, the early spring tapping maple trees and for a few Sundays in the summer, Kingfield can enjoy the fruits of their labor. Dan’s wife, Kathleen is a co-worker of mine – a fellow teacher extraordinaire!

Well, a few weeks back, Dan informed me that the Chestnuts had arrived and I had better hurry if I wanted to indulge. Chestnuts you say…what exactly is the chestnut? He explained simply that they are one of the only edible crab apples and are quite delicious little delicacies. Well, of course, being the (clear throat here) foodie that I am, I suddenly had an urgent need to acquire some Chestnut Crabs, so off to the co-op I went.

Lo and behold, Dan was right. There, amidst the apples was a small section with a tag labeled, “Chestnut Crabs,” but there were no tiny lovelies to be had, boo hoo. I immediately inquired as to their whereabouts and was quickly reassured that they were just coming out of the cooler! Whew. Once the box of little crabbies was wheeled to the produce section, I had my pick. I packaged my two pounds and off I went to make a pie…

Four weeks later…

Apple pie turned to apple crisp! It’s Wednesday after all, I have the math tests yet to correct this evening, report cards are waiting in the wings, and a mock-up of this week’s art lesson is pounding on the door – not to mention that I better get started thinking about next week, or I’ll be planning lessons all weekend.

Yes, I am busy, but not without a little creative energy. Tonight’s apple crisp has a few surprises. First and foremost it is sweetened entirely with the Walsh family maple syrup from the spring of 2009. The demure little Chestnut Crabs also share their quarters with a large diced beet, some blueberries from last summer, a little amaretto glaze and chopped almonds to top it off. Not your average crisp. This one is hearty and not too sweet.

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Chestnut Crabby Crisp – Ingredients

Filling:

  • 2 pounds Chestnut Crabs, cored and sliced
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 1 cup roasted beets, diced
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 Tbs. Amaretto

Topping:

  • 2 cups oats
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup chopped almonds
  • 6 Tbs. canola oil
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • pinch of salt

Coring the Chestnuts is a pain. I tried the old-fashioned method of quartering and cutting out the seeds, and figured that would have taken me until tomorrow. Next I tried the apple cutter, but the skins are too tough to break through. So, I ended up cutting the bottoms off the little apples and that way they went right through the apple slicer. Check it out.

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Once you get all the fruit sliced, dump it into a 9 by 13 pan. Sprinkle it with the amaretto and pour the maple syrup over the top.

Mix the crisp topping ingredients in a bowl. The oil and syrup should make the topping stick together slightly. Spread this out over the fruit and bake for 1 hour at 375 degrees. I found out that Chestnut Crabs remain pretty crunchy after baking and so this dish turns out to be pretty hearty – perhaps a good breakfast meal. Enjoy.

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Birthday Cakes

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This is the sweet birthday cake my two favorite boys brought home from Whole Foods (cough, cough, shh, don’t tell, please!) It is an amazing lemon layer cake sandwiching lemon custard all wrapped up with a pretty buttercream icing. It is so delicious in all it’s sugary badness!

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This is the savory, healthy, adult version of the “birthday cake.” Thin slices of potato and roasted beets act as the crusts holding in the garlic speckled brown rice in place. To decorate, radishes were halved before roasting. This crazy concoction was tasty enough, but the beets didn’t really pair well with the rice and potatoes. The fact that they bled onto the rice gave the dish a unique esthetic, but the sweetness of the beets didn’t match the other flavors. The dish won points for interest and beauty, it’s definitely edible, but overall fantastic, it is not. How can we make thinly sliced beets into something fantastic? I had visions of a beet upside down cake of sorts. If you come up with anything, let me know!

In the mean time, I’ll eat two birthday cakes for dinner!

Candy Cane Beets and Toasted Almond Salad

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Here’s a simple and hearty Fall dish both beautiful and tasty. I roasted the beets yesterday when I made the rigatoni, so whipping up this little salad was a breeze today. Buy beets and throw them in the oven whenever you get a chance. They are so delicious.

Candy Cane Beets and Toasted Almond Salad Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3 large beets, whole roasted 40 minutes
  • 1 handful cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp. raspberry balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup whole almonds, dry toasted

Directions:

Brush the bottom of a baking pan with a little olive oil. Trim the leaves and roots from the beets, wash and place in roasting pan. At 400 degrees it takes about 30-40 minutes depending on the size of the beets. After the beets cool, peel and dice. Dry toast the almonds until they begin to brown. Turn them out onto a plate to cool. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. So easy – so delicious!

Beet Bruschetta

If you are saying, “Ew, beets!” right now, stop. This is not your average beet. This elegant appetizer or light lunch will impress your pickled-beet-making grandma as well as your most discriminating foodie friends. This recipe does a great service to the humble beet.

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I really hate messing with beets, but every time I eat them, my palate is so satisfied! Not wanting to run the oven and heat up the house, I boiled the beets a few days ago. Today I peeled and diced them along with a local farm cuke from the co-op. I happened to have some of this tiny rye bread in the freezer leftover from a party, so I pulled it out and toasted a few slices. I actually cannot stand this bread, and have never found any topping that marries well with it – until today. The beets were a perfect compliment! In an effort to cut back on added salt, this recipe gets its’ salt only from the feta cheese. I also opted to use honey instead of the organic cane sugar I often use.

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 small beets boiled, peeled and diced
  • 1 small cucumber diced
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh mint
  • ground pepper
  • crumbled feta

Directions:

I prepped the vegetables and mint then whisked the vinaigrette together in a bowl big enough to add the beets and cukes. Mix everything together. Toast the rye breads, spoon on the beet mixture and last add the crumbled feta so it doesn’t turn pink from the beets. I served the bruschetta with a side salad of baby field greens from this week’s CSA and topped with the dressing from the bruschetta. This is absolutely delicious!

Roasted Yellow Beet and Sweet Potato Soup

Tonight’s soup ended up being a Roasted Yellow Beet & Sweet Potato Soup that I served with chunks of cheddar and corn tortillas locally made by the Whole Grain Milling Company in Welcome Minnesota. Last weekend I roasted two large yellow beets and forgot to use them in a salad so they were waiting in the fridge for inspiration. I also had on hand a large sweet potato. The sweet of the beets and the sweet potato paired well with the tomato base of organic Muir Glen tomatoes. Jeff and I both enjoyed it, and Max devoured two bowls! It’s a winner! The recipe follows.

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Roasted Yellow Beet & Sweet Potato Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbs. olive or canola oil
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 2 large roasted yellow beets
  • 1 large can Muir Glen diced tomatoes
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 Tbs. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground curry powder (I used Penzey’s Vindaloo)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • chunks of cheddar to top soup
  • tortilla chips or crackers

Directions: In a large soup pot warm the oil on low heat while you dice the onion. Mix the onion into the oil and let it slowly saute. I remove the skins from the garlic and chop them in the food processor. When the onions are translucent, add the garlic. Keep the heat low, so the garlic can cook, but not burn. Max and Jeff don’t like chunks of tomato, so I puree the diced tomatoes. Add the tomato puree to the pot, and dice the sweet potato. Add these to the pot and raise the heat just enough to bring the tomatoes to a slow simmer. Add a little water to thin out. I added about two cups. Add spices and let cook. While the soup is cooking, I chop the bunch of cilantro in the food processor, and cut up chunks of cheese to top the soup. Sweet potatoes don’t take long to cook, so check them after about five minutes. While the soup cooks, I peel and dice the beets. Toss the beets in the pot after the sweet potatoes are soft. Let warm for about a minute and then mix in the chopped cilantro. Serve immediately with cheese and chips.

This meal for eight is entirely organic, took me about twenty minutes to prepare, and cost less than $7.00. You can’t beat that at Turtle Bread.