Monthly Archives: February 2012

Beets: my kind of romance

A while ago, I was lucky enough to win a copy of the wonderful Food52 cookbook in a giveaway on my friend Eve’s blog, The Garden of Eating. I’ve made a few dishes from it since then – all delicious of course – but haven’t had the time to write about them.

Happily, I am breaking that streak now, just in time for Valentine’s Day, with a recipe for beets. That’s right, beets! Beets are not romantic you say? Well I beg to differ, despite the slightly unattractive red palms you will have after cooking them (red is usually the way to go on v-day, but somehow it doesn’t work on the palms…).

red palms

The recipe intro says it used to be a French peasant’s dish. What’s more romantic than pretending to be a French peasant eating fancy French cheese and bread? Not much, I say.

French cheese and bread

We are pretty low-key about Valentine’s Day around here. I have to admit that I haven’t always been though. Over the years my attitude has swung from overly enthusiastic to openly hostile – depending, of course, on whether or not I had a boyfriend at the time.

Some of the most stressful v-days have, ironically, been the years when I’ve decided to cook for my sweetheart (past and present). I have always ended up choosing a meal that was too much fuss in an effort to make sure it was special. This meant, as you can guess, that inevitably I would get super stressed out and it would end up not being special for me (sad!)

beet slices

I do not have time for all that business this year though.  This year I have grad school and barely any time to cook on regular days, let alone extra time for special days. So, when I started to see the tell-tale signs of Valentine’s Day approaching (i.e. an explosion of recipes for red velvet cake on food websites, grocery store shelves stocked with way more Russell Stover chocolate than any society should consume, etc., etc.) I put my head in the sand. And, as my incredible luck would have it, my wonderful boyfriend recommended we go out to eat at one of our favorite hole-in-the-wall places that is sure not to be a v-day hot spot. Hooray!

steamy onions

But then I ran across this beet recipe in the Food52 cookbook that seemed like the perfect Valentine’s Day meal for the following reasons:

  • It is quick
  • It is easy
  • It uses one pan
  • It looks absolutely delicious

And I was right. It turns out that ‘special’ does not have to entail me working for hours in the kitchen and him being stuck with a mountain of dirty dishes when it’s over! There is a better way. It is these beets.

Between the beets and the chard stems, it is really red, so it looks very Valentine-y. But even better than that, the pairing of the earthy, slightly sweet beets with the rich, creamy goat cheese and a soft-on-the-inside-crunchy-on-the-outside baguette (which might be the world’s perfect food) it feels decadent and is utterly delicious.

red chard

It made a wonderful pre-Valentine’s dinner for us (we are still going to our hole-in-the-wall on the day itself). And I know you will love it, whether or not you make it to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

peasant beets

French “Peasant” Beets

Adapted from The Food 52 Cookbook
Makes 2 servings

Since I was making this as a Valentine’s Day treat, we went ahead and splurged on some fancy Bucheron cheese. It was divine, but you could certainly get away with using any (read: cheaper) soft goat cheese you like. Also, the beets I got did not have their greens with them, but if yours do, don’t throw them away! Just wash and chop them and add them at the same time as the chard.

  • 3-4 medium beets (or 2 large beets), peeled and sliced (1/4 inch slices)
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard (leaves and stems), chopped
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp veggie stock
  • 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 lb Bucheron (or any soft goat cheese), cut into wedges
  • 1/2 loaf crusty baguette, sliced and warmed in the oven
  • Sprinkle of balsamic vinegar (optional)

First, prepare all the veggies as indicated above.

Once that’s done, melt the butter in a large pan and sauté the shallot over medium heat until softened, 3-4 minutes.

Add the beet rounds to the pan, along with a pinch of salt and black pepper to taste. Sauté the beets for about 15 minutes, turning often, until the beets become tender.

Add the chard (and beet greens, if you have them) and sauté for 5 minutes. Then add the veggie stock and vinegar, stir once, and cover.

Cook for another 5-10 minutes, until the greens are wilted and the liquid is mostly absorbed. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve in a shallow bowl along with a wedge of cheese and a few slices of bread. I also sprinkled a few drops of balsamic vinegar on top of our beets just before serving and it added a delightful kick to this rich dish.

Sending love to you and yours!

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