Saturday, May 12, 2007

You Dirty Rat - Yellow Beets with Walnuts

Don’t get me wrong. I like beets. I like them a great deal. But in order for me to like them a great deal, I have to do a great deal to them. The classic American sugary pickled beets leave me as cold as they are. I like borscht better than pickled beets (and have a bottle of concentrate from Poland to prove it), but better still is a recipe that downplays the sugar beet’s historical significance as a sugar fix.


Deprive a sugar beet of its will to go all sticky and sweet on you, and you will have the flashing flavors of vinegar, garlic and herbs having their way with what I consider the earthiest vegetable around. Raw beets smell like dirt and they taste like dirt. I’m convinced the beet’s tap root is as curled as a rat’s tail in order to anchor it in the soil; it’s not going to be dug and pulled up without a fight.

Once a beet is harvested, it doesn’t want to loose its characteristic rankness, either. The golden heirloom beets I purchased were so filthy that it took several changes of water and a good scrub to make them presentable for this recipe. Yet when they were boiled and dressed in a simple, but delicately complex sauce, they were ready to star on my best French porcelain plates. How exactly this transformation comes to pass, I will never know. Beats me.

Yellow Beets with Walnuts - Loosely adapted from Epicurious

Ingredients

4-6 small-medium yellow beets, well-scrubbed and washed, greens cut off for another use
2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 tablespoons red wine or other robust vinegar
4 tablespoons chopped scallions, whites only
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
Scant handful broken walnut meats, toasted in a skillet for approximately 10 minutes
Salt and Pepper

Method

Cover beets and garlic cloves in water in a large saucepan. Boil until beets are tender, about 40 minutes (microwave directions in original Epicurious recipe above). Remove vegetables from saucepan and set them aside to cool. When cool, squeeze garlic cloves out of their skins, then mash them in a bowl with the back of a spoon. Add olive oil and vinegar, mixing well.

Peel beets and slice into rounds about ¼ inch thick. Arrange beet slices on small plates, spooning garlic dressing over them. Divide and scatter the scallions, cilantro and walnuts over each plate, finishing lightly with salt and pepper.

Serves 2 as a salad or side. --

This post is being submitted to Pat of Up a Creek Without a Patl, who is hosting Weekend Herb Blogging for Kalyn Denny of Kalyn's Kitchen, creator of the Weekend Herb Blogging event.

25 comments:

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I love beets and these look boooful!

Scott at Real Epicurean said...

Wow! I've never seen yellow beets before but they look delicious...

Susan said...

Thanks, Tanna. We do, too. We ate this pretty quickly yesterday.

Hi, Scott. They are delicious and truly as yellow as they look in the photos.

Kalyn said...

Just looks delicious. I've been reading about golden beets, but haven't tasted them. The photos are fabulous.

Freya and Paul said...

"Beats Me!!" - Nice pun!
I saw these yellow beets for the first time on someone elses blog a couple of weeks ago and was entranced by their golden colour! I love your recipe and will actively seek some out!

Susan said...

Thanks, Kalyn. The yellow varieties are somewhat milder flavored, but you will still know they are beets when you taste them.

Freya & Paul - Thanks. I couldn't resist. Recipe's easy. Finding the beets may be a bit harder, but not impossible.

Foodie Froggy said...

Believe me or not, I have never cooked yellow beets. They look fantastic, really !

Cynthia said...

In your expert hands they clean up nicely :)

You know I've never had beets before. I see them all the time but never bought them and they've been on many tables but I never took any on my plate. They look attractive... but, but... okay I don't have any valuable excuse (lol)

Susan said...

Thanks, Foodie Froggy. Yellow beets are probably hard to find in Paris. They are not easy to find here in the states, either.

Hi, Cynthia. They are attractive, but not without some TLC. Their flavor is never delicate and quite literally earthy, admittedly not to everyone's taste. They are, however, more popular than anchovies. ; )

Christina said...

I am an avowed beet-eater, so I'm happy to see another way of preparing them. Thanks for the idea!

Lucy said...

That sweetness really does need taming doesn't it? Toasted walnuts, red wine vinegar, cilantro; it's all there to cut through the sugar. A lovely, light and sophisticated dish.

Susan said...

Christina - I had to dig deep to find this recipe. Seems most of them are the typical sweet and sour style.

Lucy - A strange sweetness. There's really nothing else like it. No one would ever mistake it for that "other" root veggie, the carrot.

Glenna said...

Beets have never been high on my list but you make them look so yummy I'm suddenly questioning my dislike. I think I need to try them again after seeing this post.

Mandira said...

Yellow beets look so good, I don't think I've seen it before. And yur avocado soup looks gorgeous. It's on my must-try list!

Susan said...

Hey, Glenna. Yellow beets may be just the thing for you to try. I added extra vinegar to the original recipe to sharpen them up just a little more.

Hi, Mandira. I hope yellow beets will become more popular and available. At least avocado is easy to come by. Thanks for the compliments. It's nice to see you here.

Shaun said...

Hi Susan - I don't know how I just found your blog, but I did, so let's just go with it (it is amazing where you end up after clicking a few links...). I, too, love beets. I have never seen these yellow ones before and will probably never see them in New Zealand. In any event, my favorite way to have them is in a salad once the beets have been roasted and grated, plonked into a bowl with grated apples and a creamy horseradish dressing. Yum. Lovely post.

Mishmash ! said...

Hey Susan, firstly thanks for visiting my page :)
Secondly once I started exploring your I really didnt know where to focuss, Your lemon curd cheesecake,Orange Flower Creme de la creme did capture my attention and were quite tempting too. And I just loved the presentation and pic of your quail eggs :)

Nice Blog!
Shn

Susan said...

Hi, Shaun, and thanks. You never know, a small artisan farm may come along in NZ with just such specialty produce as these. Glad you visited however you got here. Welcome!

Susan said...

Hi, Mishmash. Good to see you here visiting. Thanks for all the kind compliments. It IS hard to focus with so much food around all the time!

christine (myplateoryours) said...

I love beets -- and I always roast hem now since it is MUCH less messy and concentrates the beety flavor so well. I am going to try them with this dressing -- sounds fabulous

Susan said...

Christine - The dressing was easy and better than expected. Hope you enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

Susan, I just happened upon yellow beets in my weekly produce bag (pre-selected from Hollywood Farmer's Market); I have a monthly subscription. I Googled "yellow beet" and found your recipe. Haven't tried it yet (I'm an inexperienced cook). I'm curious -- what can you do with the greens? The recipe says "greens cut off for another use."
Marilyn

Susan said...

Hi, Marilyn, and welcome. The greens can be used in salads, soups or side dishes. The main thing is that they are in good condition. If they are ratty, they're pretty useless except for garden compost. There's a lot of nutrition in the greens. Your monthly subscription sounds like fun.
Thanks for visiting!

Anonymous said...

Susan, I tried the recipe tonight and it tasted great! I'm sure it would have tasted even better if I had walnuts. I was lucky to have all of the other ingredients. I'm beginning to appreciate the combinations of different flavors, so at least I'm becoming a more discriminating eater if not a cook. :)
Marilyn

Susan said...

Hi, Marilyn! I'm so glad you enjoyed and had success with this recipe. This is an easy enough dish, but not the very easiest, so I think you are further along as a cook than you realize. Please feel free to pick my brain whenever you need to. It takes time to learn to cook with confidence, but I firmly believe that if the interest is there, the skill with follow.