Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Weeknight Cooking: Beets

We had some fresh beets last week. We both really like beets, but we don't do them often as they just take too long for weeknight cooking. But then I hit on the bright idea of prepping them the night before. The beets need to be boiled for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how young or how large they are. (You boil them until a fork pierces them easily.) Then you plunge them into cold water, and the skins should slip off easily. We then chopped them into large chunks, and put them in a bowl with a little rice vinegar, salt, and pepper. Pop them in the fridge, and then the next night all you need to do is heat them up. This is easy enough to do while watching TV after dinner.

I'm also a fan of greens, and fresh beets have nice greens on them. It's like getting two vegetables in one. So while the beets were boiling, I washed off the beet leaves. (What seems to work best is to fill a sink or large container with water, submerge the leaves and swish them around, and repeat the process a few times.) Then I just put them on a paper towel and put them in the fridge, so I'd have a head start for the next night. The next night, I just separated the leaves from the stalks, chopped up the stalks, rolled up the leaves (like a cigar) and sliced them into half-inch to an inch wide strips. I also chopped up a couple of tomatoes in small pieces. In a skillet with a little garlic olive oil, I sauteed the stalks, then added the greens, and then added the tomato. (Beet greens take more time than spinach, more like collard greens. But you'll see when they start to wilt.) This little mixture was delicious over polenta. (On weeknights, I just use the ready-made polenta that you slice and heat in the toaster oven. Polenta cooked from scratch is always preferred, but totally impractical on a weeknight.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

January 31? This confused me. Where I am it is January 11.

I have bought my first frest beets. I plan to put them in a crockpot to cook. I hope this works. Then I thought I would take Deborah Madison's advice and simply butter, salt and peppter them. I have no idea what to expect. All I've ever eaten are the canned ones foisted on us in school cafeterias!