As I had mentioned in my last post, the trip to the Farmer’s Market this past weekend yielded some unusual finds for me – Tatsoi, Watermelon Radishes and Golden Beets. My experiment with a Tatsoi salad earlier in the week was a success but the radish and kale chips turned out to be a complete dud! I was so down in the dumps over the failed chips’ experiment that I took a few days off from cooking. I guess there are some advantages to being an empty-nester because if the kids had been at home, I could never have gotten away with not cooking any meals for two whole days! The fact that the husband was out of the country for work, made it even easier for me to be lazy about cooking. So over the past two days I looked at all the wonderful pictures of food that appeared on my facebook feed (I subscribe to an endless number of food blogs) but all I ate was eggs, toast, cheese and fruit. But a die-hard foodie like me can’t stay away from cooking for too long – this morning I woke with renewed enthusiasm and decided that the beets had to come out perfect!
I love beets and while eating out if I find beets on the menu, I am sure to order them. I make beets at home as well but usually they are the regular deep maroon kind. Finding Golden beets in part of the US is quite rare. The big bunch that I bought at the Farmer’s Market only had two Golden Beets in it, the rest were the usual kind. So I wanted to utilize them in a recipe that would highlight the contrasting colors of the two kinds of beets. So I roasted them in an oven and then made a salad with them with a spicy mint cilantro pesto to drizzle on top. The pesto was very similar to the Indian Mint Chutney but I didn’t add any onion or ginger to it (essential ingredients in the standard mint chutney recipe) because I wanted the herbs to bring out the taste of the sweet roasted beets. I also added Extra Virgin Olive oil to the pesto, so this truly turned out to be a fusion dish. I kept a base of sliced juicy Clementine on the bottom of the platter and then the sliced beets which were then topped with creamy feta cheese and the pesto on top. The colors were spectacular and the taste was intense and absolutely magnificent.
1. 7-8 small multi-colored beets
2. 3-4 Clementine
3. 2-3 ounces of creamy feta cheese or fresh goat cheese
4. A bunch of fresh mint leaves
5. A bunch of fresh cilantro leaves
6. 1-2 spicy green chilis
7. 1.5 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
8. 1.5 tablespoon of lemon juice
9. 1 tablespoon of sugar
10. 1/2 teaspoon of salt (more if needed but add a little at a time – remember that feta cheese is quite salty to begin with)
1. Heat the oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit
2. Wash the beets and place them on a cookie sheet (I covered it with tin foil to make clean-up easy).
3. Using a sharp knife or a fork, piece the exterior of all the beets (so they let their steam out while roasting),
4. Place the cookie sheet in the oven and roast the beets till they are fork tender (I like mine a little al dente). If the beets are small or medium, this takes about 60 minutes in the oven but if they are large, the roasting process may take longer.
5. Take the beets out of the oven when they are cooked and set them aside so that they cool down enough for you to be able to handle them with your hands.
6. Wash the chilies, mint and cilantro leaves. And remove any tough stems in them.
8. The pesto should look chunky and coarse. So when the pesto is at this coarse consistency, slowly drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil and mix everything thoroughly. At this stage, taste the pesto and add sugar, salt or lemon juice according to your own preference.