Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Beets Yum!

It seems that most Eastern Europeans enjoy beets, and have a huge repertoire of recipes that please them!  I grew up enjoying Ukrainian borsch lovingly prepared by mama, baba's, aunties, and extended family.  Each borsch has a slightly different combination of vegetables, and are truly Ukrainian in style.  I even discoverd a borsch broth served as a light thin soup at Ukrainian feasts where there are already a lot of other vegetables served.  And ingenious women know how to use every part of the beet in recipes - including the leaves, used as a wrapper around rolls of dough, rice, buckwheat and such.

A lovely recipe my family enjoys does just that.  It uses all the beet, in a delicious way that is both sweet and like pickled beets.

First you harvest fresh beets (or go to the farmer's market, or store).  Choose beets that are not huge, with a lot of fresh green leaves.  At home slice off the leaves, wash, shred, and reserve.  Slice the stems in one inch pieces and reserve.  Wrap the unskinned beets in tinfoil and roast in a moderate oven for an hour or more (depending on the size).  Remove the beets to cool a bit. Warm some oil into a large pan, saute the beet stems, and drop a few tablespoons of water over them.  Cover and let them steam briefly until almost soft.  Then add minced or smashed garlic, the beet leaves, a quarter cup of water, and steam/fry until almost soft. Sprinkle with lemon juice to hold the dark green-leaf color, a very few flakes of dried red pepper, salt and pepper to taste.  In the meanwhile, prepare a pasta serving bowl with about a tablespoonful of capers, oil and red wine vinegar.  Slip the beets out of their skins and slice on a mandolin, straight into the dressing.  Toss gently and season.  Place the greens around the beets decoratively. Sometimes I drop a little goat cheese over the salad for a colorful contrast.  Enjoy!
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