Beets are the shaggy, frumpy, rough around the edges type of vegetable that reminds me of a grumpy old history teacher. With awkward magenta lips and a cardigan that needs a lawn mower. But one that, once you get to know, is really a treasure to behold and a person that in your memories is actually a fairy godmother, a true ally and a wise, warm soul.
I haven’t always been a fan of beets, despite their natural occurrence at the family dinner table (often in the form of borscht, but sometimes dressed in mayonnaise). The beets of my past have found their way into my present in a surprisingly delicious way. The first time that I attempted to make beets at home, I roasted them in a honeyed sauce with shallots that distinctly reminded me of glazed carrots. Since, I’ve enjoyed beet salads topped with quality blue cheese and thinly sliced over arugula, but I had never given much thought to the greens–the long, leafy part that grows above ground and anchors this hearty root.
After doing a little bit of research, I found that beet greens are in fact pretty similar to other greens, and tossed a bit in a pan with some olive oil, can taste much like sauteed spinach. Why, why had I been throwing away the leafy greens all this time? Roasted, beets take on a sweetness that naturally complements sweet fruits like oranges. What’s more, they can make a great contrast to some light greens. Having recently acquired a little bottle of oak-aged balsamic vinegar from O Olive Oil, I was excited to dress up something fancy. So as I threw together this salad, I naturally reached for that little bottle and added a drizzle here and a drizzle there to create a nice contrast to the sweetness of the beets and the fruit and liven up the sauteed greens. The last topper? A handful of pecans, whose sweet, buttery flavor and crunch added a bit of jazz to the dish.
This salad can be made with red or yellow beets and for that matter, regular or blood oranges. I particularly love the beautiful yellow beets that I can find at weekend open air farmer’s markets and are less readily available in my neighborhood market. Unfortunately, blood oranges and beets don’t coincide in seasonality, but you could still find blood oranges in select stores at this time of year and make a very colorful salad. This is a pretty light side dish that can be served as a side to some roasted chicken.
Balsamic Beets and Greens with Oranges and Pecans
2-3 medium sized yellow beets, with greens attached
1 tablespoon of good quality aged balsamic vinaigrette
1 orange, peeled and separated into slices
3 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
handful of pecans
1. Start by roasting the beets: preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cut off the greens from the beets and set aside. Trim and scrub the beets. In a medium roasting pan or oven-proof casserole dish, toss them whole with a few tablespoons of olive oil and salt. Tent the pan with foil and roast for about 50 minutes, or until a fork can easily slide into the beet.
2. Remove the beets from the oven and let them cool. Once cool, peel them and cut them into 1/2 to 1/4 inch thick slices.
3. Prepare the beet greens: chop them roughly into bite sized pieces.
4. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet, and toss in the chopped greens. Add about a teaspoon of aged balsamic vinegar. Salt and pepper, to taste. Cook for only a few minutes, until the greens have begun to wilt. Then, remove the pan from the heat.
5. In a medium bowl, combine the beet greens, sliced beets, orange slices and pecans. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and more aged balsamic. Salt and pepper and toss to combine.
Musical Pairings: Daniel Martin Moore and Balsamic Beets and Greens
Recently, I’ve started researching the key ingredients in Kasey’s recipes in order to find inspiration for our Musical Pairings. It never fails. In this case, when researching ‘beets,’ I discovered that they have been used in a wide variety of medical applications. And, as it turns out, beets and music share numerous characteristics. For example, beets, like music, are considered an aphrodisiac. Also, beet juice can be used to lower blood pressure; and it may come as no surprise that “quiet, rhythmic music” can also lower blood pressure. So the perfect pairing for Kasey’s balsamic beets and greens with oranges and pecans would be quiet sexy, music to calm the soul. This conclusion led me to Daniel Martin Moore‘s debut album Stray Age. It is beautiful, tender music, and is guaranteed to lower your stress levels and maybe even make you feel a little amorous. So, to quote the first track on Stray Age, “Darlin’ come be close and be rested.” For the full review, head over to Musical Pairings @ eating/sf. –Matthew