You can’t beat beets! Recipe
It won’t be long now before you start to see locally grown fresh beets showing up in your local farmer’s markets. In warmer climates you may already be seeing the ruby beauties tied in small bunches. For some shoppers those small bunches seem to be expensive compared to other vegetables and they get passed by. Don’t pass them by! You will really get your monies worth out of them. I am going to show you four ways to make one bunch of beets stretch to feed your family: wilted beet green salad, cook beet roots and pickled beets and pink pickled eggs.
When selecting beets choose bunches of beets that have firm roots. No wrinkled or soft flesh. Look at the tops. They should be crisp like fresh lettuce leave, not limp, wilted or bug bitten. I hesitate to tell anyone to purchase beets without the tops. For without the tops you can’t judge the age of the root or the condition of the plants. I never purchase beets without the tops.
Using a sharp knife separate the beet roots from the leafy tops.
I like to wash my tops separate from the roots because the leaves can hold sand. Once they are clean to my satisfaction I put them in a pan of ice cold water to sit while I work with the beet roots.
When beets are small (smaller than a golf ball) I leave them whole, scrub them well, and cook them in boiling salted water until fork tender. When the beets are larger I peel and slice them first. Be aware they will stain your hands.
Cover the beets in cold water with a little salt and bring them up to the boil. Turn down the heat and allow them to slow simmer until tender.
Back to the leafy tops. Drain from the ice water and pat dry. In a deep skillet, slowly brown diced bacon.
Remove the bacon when crisp and drain on paper towels. Remove all but two tablespoons of the bacon drippings.
In the bacon drippings sautee one medium onion and 3 or 4 cloves of garlic thinly sliced. Allow the onions to begin to sweat and become clear. Don’t let it cook too fast. You will burn the garlic.
Cut the stems of the leafy tops into 1 to 2 inch pieces. Add those to the onions and garlic. Simmer until the stems are beginning to soften.
Then add your leafy green tops.
Cook on low heat until the greens are tender. Mix 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar with 1 tsp raw sugar and pour over the greens. Bring the heat up and cook long enough for some of the liquid in the pan to begin to evaporate – just another few minutes.
Remove to a serving dish and sprinkle the bacon over the top. Looks delicious, doesn’t it!
By now your beet roots are tender. You can drain them from the liquid or serve them in a pretty bowl with some of the ruby red juices. Hot or cold they are simply delicious. My little four year old Steven can eat his weight in fresh cook beets. It’s like candy to him.
Any leftovers from your cooked beet roots and juices are perfect for a quick jar of pickled beets. These will keep in your refrigerator several weeks to be served with salads or as a side dish.
For a pint jar mix 1/2 cup vinegar and 1 cup of the liquid from the beets. Place beet slices in the jar and cover with the vinegar solution. Put on a tight lid and leave in your refrigerator at least overnight. Onion slices added to the beet pickles are also wonderful to eat.
So what do we do with all the left over vitamin rich liquid left in the cooking pot? Use it, of course! This time for pink pickled eggs which are also a love compliment to salads.
Boil 6 – 12 eggs. Cool and peel. Add them to a large glass jar. Mix 2 cups of the beet liquid, 1/2 cup vinegar, 1 cup cold water, 1/4 cup raw sugar, a pinch of salt. You can also add a bay leaf and/or allspice but I prefer them plain. Cover the eggs with the beet-vinegar mixture. Tightly seal the lid on the jar and place in the refrigerator. The eggs are ready to serve the next day. The longer they sit the darker pink they become. You can also add some of the beet slices to the jar for a mix of pickled beets and eggs. These are really old fashioned and are a wonderful addition to a salad plate.
I encourage you to not pass by those beets you see in the market. You are going to love how versatile they are and all the wonderful dishes you can create with them.
The beets are finally starting to sprout in my garden and I am so excited about what that means. Not only will we have fresh beets for the recipes I shared today but there will be beets for borscht – a beautiful red beet soup in the polish tradition, beet salads with oranges and pecans, and even loaves of beet bread. Some of the beets in my garden are red, some are yellow and some are alternating red and white rings. I am so excited to harvest them and share the photos with you.
I can almost taste them now!