The Beet: Nose, Tail, the Whole Damned Thing

As a nod to summer and Fergus Henderson, I bring you the beet, used in its entirety — nose-to-tail, so to speak.

After the jump, enjoy recipes for Grated Beet Salad and Braised Beet Top Crostinis. — Jason Adams

 GRATED BEET SALAD

 Ingredients

  • 1 bunch beets  — about one-pound — peeled, tops reserved
  • 1 large shallot, peeled
  • 1 or 2 radishes
  • 1 small bunch chard, washed, ends trimmed and coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup fresh-shelled peas
  • 1 tablespoon olive or walnut oil
  • 2 tablespoons tarragon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

 Assembling the salad

  • Quarter the beets and shallot, place in a food processor with the steel blade.  Process until grated.  Add the chard and radishes.  Process until chopped and incorporated into the beet shallot mix.
  • Transfer to a bowl.
  • Stir in the peas.
  • In a small bowl make the vinaigrette, add to the beet mixture and taste for seasoning.  Restrain yourself from eating the whole thing right out of the bowl and place the completed salad into the refrigerator to cool.   Keep in mind that the cooler you serve this dish the more aggressive you need your vinaigrette to be.
  • To plate the salad, I got fancy and used a ring mold (actually 2” PVC pipe coupling) to make a disk about 1” high and placed a few more peas on top.
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BRAISED BEET TOP CROSTINI

Ingredients

  • Beet tops from 1 bunch of beets, leaves and stalks, washed and chopped into ¾” pieces
  • 1 garlic scape, diced
  • About 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • Fresh whole milk Ricotta cheese, brought to room temperature
  • Bread sliced from a somewhat dense country loaf – not those airy Fairway baguettes
  • Course salt
  • Red pepper flakes

Assembling the crostini:

  • Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan.
  • Add the garlic scapes and sauté over medium/low heat until the scapes begin to brown.
  • Remove the scapes from the olive oil and discard.
  • Turn the heat to low.
  • Add the chopped beet tops, toss in the oil and put a lid on the pan.
  • Braise in the pan for about fifteen minutes, turning once or twice during the braise.  The tops are done when the stalks are tender.
  • Season with salt and the red pepper.
  • Resist the urge to eat the whole pan full right now.
  • Slice the bread into crostini sized pieces.  Toast lightly.
  • Spread the ricotta on top of the toasted bread, top with the braised beet tops.
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