Hungry for another challenge from our local urban garden, I ordered beets this week.
A few weeks ago when I was picking up our produce from the garden, a local chef was asking for something off the menu.Curious, I asked, and he popped off the flower of an arugula stem for me to eat. It was a surprising burst of peppery flavor, pungent like arugula itself.
Adding a handful of flowers atop the beets gave this dish a powerful finale.
- 4-6 beets, scrubbed and peeled (I just read that the recipe calls for scrubbing the beets and peeling them. Whoops! I didn’t peel them, but didn’t notice the skin to be too tough. If you want a more rustic outcome, just wash them really well with water; if you’re looking for a more refined outcome, rinse well with water and peel the beets.)
- Greens from the beets, rinsed well (beets are root vegetables. Mine still had quite a bit of soil on them, so just rinse well under water and dry. The recipe doesn’t address whether or not to use the stalks. I used some stalky pieces because I wasn’t using Swiss chard.)
- 3 tablespoons of butter
- 1-2 shallots, minced (but if you’re looking for a more potent flavor, don’t be afraid to substitute an onion in here. I think next time I make this I’ll cook one whole onion, thinly sliced, at a low heat to caramelize it for this recipe.)
- s & p
- splash of white wine (I used a really sweet wine, but any would do.)
- cheese (the recipe calls for 1/2 pound Bucheron, at room temperature, cut into four wedges. But I had some old goat cheese that I crumbled on there.)
- handful of arugula flowers
- toasted pine nuts (but don’t feel like you can’t make this without, or try toasted walnuts.)
- optional: bread (the recipe calls for crusty peasant-style bread, warmed. But I didn’t have any, and it was quite good.)
In a large pan, melt the butter and sauté the shallot at medium heat until soft. Add the beet slices to the pan and season with s & p. I used tongs to flip the beets, making sure they were evenly cooked. Once tender (about 15 minutes), add your beet greens and cook for about five minutes then add the wine and cover. Cook until your greens are wilted (about two minutes); I like them a little crunchy, so I cooked mine for about four more minutes and turned off the heat when all the liquid was absorbed and the leaves were crispy. Taste and adjust your seasonings. Plate the beets and generously garnish with goat cheese, pine nuts and the arugula flowers.
Don’t feel like you have to use the cheese, nuts and flowers. I just had some leftover pine nuts from the eggplant quinoa, plus I like the nutty texture and flavor woven into the earthy beet. And the creamy goat cheese added another dimension, which can be helpful because beets are somewhat of an acquired taste. So if you’re new to beets (or your guests are), I would definitely suggest introducing the good-for-you root vegetable with a crowd-pleaser, like cheese (and, crusty slivers of grilled garlic bread would be good, too).
For more fun ways to use the edible arugula blossoms, visit this page from The Kitchn.