My Love Affair with Beets

I. Love. Beets. Truly, I do. My affair with beets began later in life. I never tried them until I was in my early twenties, but when I did, there was an instant connection. The subtle sweetness, the crisp texture, the vivid color; it all came together to form the perfect relationship with my mouth. Due to the late start, beets and I are making up for lost time. Basically, if I see beets on the menu, I order them, forsaking all other foods.

So, you can imagine my glee when I saw three perfect beets in our CSA share last Wednesday, and I was even more excited to see them left when I returned from the Midwest. I had big plans yesterday for making up some beet tzatziki, but I got a call from a fellow teacher for a beach day and said, “Yes, unequivocally, yes!” After the beautiful day at the beach, it was almost nine by the time I started cooking. Way to late to get too creative. In the freezer, I had a grilled pizza crust, so I put together a delicious flatbread pizza.

I started by roasting the beets. First I scrubbed the beets really well and put them in a tin foil packet with some olive oil and salt and pepper. I cooked them at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. After they cooled, I peeled them and sliced them thinly. I brushed the dough with olive oil, topped it with some slices of fresh mozzarella, the beets, and some leftover fresh ricotta from Monday’s pasta dinner. I baked all this at 450 degrees for 5 minutes. In the meantime, I roughly chopped the pea tendrils that were left and tossed them with olive oil, salt, and pepper. I topped the pizza with these and baked it for 3 more minutes.

The flavor combination worked very nicely. It was the perfect post-beach tasty treat. Plus, I love how neon pink the pizza dough turned!

Today, for lunch, I was working on clearing out more space in the fridge for this week’s CSA share. One thing that my husband hadn’t eaten while I was out of town was the Hakurei turnips. Now, I’ve never cooked with (or eaten, I think) these so I wasn’t sure what to do. I read about braising them, stir-frying them, and putting them on salads. One suggestion that I really liked was to “just eat them.” After trying one turnip raw, I decided to make a giant salad, using a large bunch of lettuce, sliced up turnips, and my leftover roasted beet. I also added in some more ricotta and some dry roasted pepitas for a bit of nutty crunch. Dressed simply with olive oil, it was the perfect summer lunch (even though it was cold and rainy again today, ugh.)

All in all, a very satisfying day and a half with my beets. Good news: there’s more in today’s CSA! Check back tomorrow to see what else we got and what steps I take in my relationship with beets.

~CM

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The First CSA Share…and a Disclaimer

First, the disclaimer. This week is going to be a bit different from how these posts will go in the future. Tomorrow, I have a full day of faculty meetings and am going straight from school to the airport. Currently, I’m in the middle of packing up. I’m heading to the Midwest for my dear cousin’s wedding and will be out of town until early next week. I wanted to share what we got in our first pick-up, but since I won’t be here to cook it, I am not going to be posting recipes or finished products for this round. Luckily, my husband will be home to eat all this delightful produce. So I hope you enjoy checking out what we got and will join me next week for our next round!

I opened up our bright green crate to find a delightful pile of green!

And more garlic scapes! Nice, fresh garlic scapes, which look and smell delicious.

On the left are pea tendrils. Apparently the whole pea plant is edible: shoots, leaves, flowers, all of it. I’ve never had pea tendrils, shoots but not tendrils, and am looking forward to trying them. On the right, Chinese cabbage, yum.

Some delightful looking beets and Hakurei turnips.

The complete set: garlic scapes, beets, Hakurei turnips, pea tendrils, Chinese cabbage, Romaine lettuce, spinach, snap peas. All in all, quite a delightful haul, and I know my husband will enjoy chowing down on it while I’m away.

I’ll be back to regular posting on Wednesday of next week. If you miss me, go to your local farmers market and leave your finds in the comments!

~CM