Saturday, August 23, 2014

Beet Harvest

Four bags of beets
My sister-in-law called me a few days ago to ask if I wanted a bunch of beets. One of the volunteers at the Museum has a huge garden and had an abundant beet crop. I love beets. 

We drove out there the next day and oh my! This woman certainly had a lot of beets. I wish I would have thought to weigh them! She had some really huge ones and on down to very tiny ones. There were two bags already picked, holding an average of 8 - 10 medium sized beets each. She picked and bagged at least 5 more bags while I was there. She had two varieties. Both are the deep red type, but one variety was the regular round kind, where the second were long and narrow, some up to 9 inches long. 

3 (10-ounce) bags of beet greens
I like beet greens also, and I have tried on occasion to buy beets with some greens that are not too wilted or outright brown. I make a soup at least once each Fall, using all the root vegetables available at that time: beets, rutabaga, turnips, carrots, parsnips. Getting the greens is a bonus. The woman gave me a few ideas for things to do with beets, including freezing them or pureeing and freezing. She said she makes a chocolate cake with pureed beets in it and I was very interested in that idea. The first thing I did when I got home was set all the beets on a surface to get a photo! The next thing I did was break off all the larger beets and take them to scrub and wash, trim and peel. I wrapped them individually in foil and baked them. Some were done at 55 minutes and others took as long as 75 minutes.

That day I had something else going on, so I let the beets cool and refrigerated them. Setting aside the greens from all those beets I baked, I washed them well and then chopped them before tossing them in a hot skillet until wilted. I bagged them in 10-ounce lots, like the boxes of frozen spinach you can buy at the store. Since I am accustomed to using 10-ounces in a recipe, I figured this would be the easiest thing to do. I had 3 bags, plus one that was only 6.5 ounces. I planned to use this bag, after picking a few more beet leaves from the remaining batch of smaller beets to make up the missing 3.5 ounces. 

A dear friend gave me a recipe for a "Spinach Pie" some years back. I made it as the recipe stated, but I felt the result was too dry and stiff. It had the addition of 3 tablespoons of flour, precisely for this purpose, but I didn't care for it. It also had artichoke hearts, red bell pepper and cheese. She is a vegetarian, so this fit her criteria. The pie has no crust, so no calories from that quarter! I have made this pie a few times, altering it as I went. This time I decided to come at it fresh, and using the beet greens set aside for this reason. The pie turned out just magnificent. The flavors are outstanding. I wondered if the beet greens would be too strongly flavored, but the reverse was actually true. It was far milder on that score, possibly just because of the freshness an healthiness of the leaves. The only thing about my version with no flour, is that it weeps out a lot of liquid in the pie plate. This makes no difference to me. And, though I do not need to avoid gluten, this pie is totally gluten free. Spinach will work perfectly also.

Beet Green & Artichoke Pie

Makes one 10-inch pie / 8 servings

10 ounces beet greens
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 - 2 jalapenos, minced
1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimiento
1 (6.5 - 7 ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
4 large eggs
1 cup of cream or milk
1/2 cup sour cream
6 - 8 ounces shredded cheese of choice (Cheddar, Jack, or combinations)
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 on Convection). Spray a 10-inch pie plate with cooking spray and set aside.

If the beet greens are not already cooked and wilted, rinse them well, leaving the water on the leaves and set them in a hot skillet. Toss them with tongs until they are completely wilted. Set them in a colander to drain and when cool enough to handle, squeeze them well. Chop the leaves and place them in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
My dinner:  Beet Green and Artichoke Pie

Wipe the skillet dry and add in the olive oil and onion. Saute the onion until soft and golden, about 15 minutes. Add in the garlic and jalapeno and toss for another 3 minutes. Add the ingredients of the skillet to the beet greens. Add in all the remaining ingredients, mixing well to combine. Pour the mixture into the prepared pie plate. Bake the pie for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until set and golden.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.