Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Garden to Table: Now that you're an adult are you ready to try beets?

A few years ago my girlfriend and I jumped on the slow food movement and decided to join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). The basic concept of the CSA has the community buying shares of a local farm. The farmer will then use the community’s investment to prepare and plant their farmland.  The farmer then shares the profits of the farm in the form of weekly dividends of fresh seasonal vegetables. Just like playing the stock market, there are many inherent risks in investing in a farm (such as heat, drought, deer, and bugs), all of which impact the returns (the vegetables, if you’re still struggling with the financial analogy). Unfortunately, our farmer was either lazy, not very experienced at farming, or just flat-out unlucky. On a weekly basis our anticipation of what would be in our basket of produce always seemed to underwhelm or disappoint. The only redeeming factor in our CSA experience was my re-introduction to beets. The second week into the spring season the only thing we received from the farm was a few bunches of beets. I wasn’t sure what to do with one bunch of beets, let alone three. Over the next week we tried many recipes that utilized beets. We even discovered that the greens of the beet are edible, and actually quite good when cooked similar to spinach. I thought to myself as I enjoyed dinner after dinner, all of which included some form of beet, that the seven year old version of me would be terribly upset that as an adult he would actually enjoy eating beets. When I decided to start a backyard garden beets were at the top of the list of things to try and grow on my own. Needless to say they thrived and we have been eating beets at least once a week for the past month.
Below is one of our favorite recipes for a beet pizza with honey goat cheese and caramelized onions, the earthiness of the beets and goat cheese balances perfectly with the sweetness of the onions and honey. So here’s to becoming an adult, and being able to try and enjoy beets.

Roasted Beet Pizza with Honey Goat Cheese and Caramelized Onions
I bunch of Beets (about 4 individual beets peeled and quartered)
I large Vidalia onion (thinly sliced)
8oz Honey Goat Cheese (crumbled)
8oz can of Pizza Sauce
2 teaspoons of Brown Sugar
Fresh Pizza Dough (Trader Joe’s readymade dough is perfect)
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 350° F. Toss peeled and quartered beets in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast beets in the oven for 50 minutes until tender. Sauté sliced onions in olive oil and brown sugar until caramelized about 20 minutes over medium heat. Roll the pizza dough to roughly the size of a cookie pan and about ¼ inch thick. Pre-bake the rolled out dough for ten minutes at 350° F. Remove the baked pizza dough from the oven and prepare the pizza with the pizza sauce, caramelized onions, roasted beets, crumbled honey goat cheese and salt and pepper. Bake for additional 15 minutes until crust is golden brown.

This is the second article in the series “Garden to Table” which highlights the produce from my own backyard garden and the recipes I used to make the most out of the seasons bounty.

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