February is beet season. The heart shaped, hot pink veggie is rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, detoxifiers, fiber, potassium, vitamins B and C, and red-blood cell producing folate. So the beet is essentially life-sustaining love that you can eat, in more than just an arugula salad with chevre. Our current recipe faves are listed below.
Please also take note of our annual café Beet Festival, celebrated every February in our cultural institution cafes throughout the five boroughs! Seasonality is important to celebrate – and you’re rewarded with the very best taste an in-season beet can offer.
Our beets from our Hudson Valley Katchkie Farm have become a staple crop in our office commissary - huge plump orbs that are sweet and earthy in the fall, and tender and delicate all summer long. We slice them thin and deep-fry as chips, and juice them into sauces and dips. We save (and love) the spicy greens and tops for salads and sautés.
Here is a preparation that glorifies their versatility for spring, as we have held them over the winter, deep in our stores, from the previous season.
Katchkie Farm Beet Tartare
Serves 8 to 10 people
2 lb red beets roast till soft, like a tender baked potato, cooled, peeled, diced small
2 oz chopped capers
2 oz Dijon mustard
2 oz minced shallot
2 oz California olive oil
1 cider vinegar
1 oz flat leaf parsley, fine chiffonade
A few grinds black pepper (more if you're feeling frisky)
Sea salt to taste
Roast beets whole in their jackets coated with a scant amount of olive oil and salt. When “fork tender” pull from the oven and let stand to room temperature. With a terry cloth towel peel off the outer skin and trim the root and top ends. Dice into small cubes as to mimic the cut you might find in a good beef tartare. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss together just before serving. Serve with toasted breads and crackers, or serve alongside a good local goat cheese. At Great Performances we serve this in a number of preparations. This spring look for it as a first course with crisp spring vegetables, an over easy quail egg and our in house corn-rye crisps.
Beet Crust Pizza
1 and 1/4 cup beets (3 beets wrapped in foil and roasted at 400 degrees for 45 minutes)
3/4 cup quinoa flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)
1/2 cup hazelnut meal (I used Bob's Red Mill)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp coconut oil
Preheat oven to 360 degrees. Mix all the ingredients together - the mix will be wet. Using a spoon, smooth out beet crust to about 1/3 inch thick onto a parchment lined baking tray and bake for 25 minutes. Take out and top with tomato paste or hummus and other toppings of your choice. Bake for another 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted, slice and serve!
Classic Russian Borscht
large or 6 medium beets, thoroughly washed and peeled
4-5 bay leaves
16 cups water
3 large or 4 medium potatoes, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1/2 head of cabbage, thinly sliced
4 tbsp cooking oil
1 big onion, finely chopped
5-6 cloves garlic
3-4 carrots, grated on large side
1/2 bunch chopped dill
4 tbsp tomato paste mixed with 2 tbsp water
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp sugar
Fill a large soup pot with 16 cups of water. Add the peppercorns, bay leaves, one tsp of salt and half of your peeled beets, Cover and boil for about 1 hour (some beets take longer, some take less time. It depends on how old the beets are). Once you can smoothly pierce the beets with a knife, remove from the water and set aside to cool. Keep the water. This is your beet stock for the soup.
Next add 4 Tbsp of cooking oil to the skillet, once hot, add the diced onion and garlic. Sauté until they are soft (7-10 minutes). Season it's a pinch of salt. Grate the remaining beets and add to the skillet along with the carrots. Once they've had a chance to caramelize and developed flavor, stir in tomato paste mixture. Let that caramelize.
While the onions and garlic are softening in the skillet, add the chopped potatoes and cabbage into the same water and boil 15-20 minutes.
Next, slice the beets into match sticks and add them back to the pot
Add sautéed mixture of vegetables to the pot.
Cook another 5-10 minutes, until the cabbage is done.
Add lemon juice and chopped dill. Taste to readjust seasoning. Sugar can be added if needed.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream or crème fraiche and a sprig of dill!
Red Beet Hummus
2 pounds red beets, scrubbed
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup tahini
Preheat the oven to 425°. In a medium enameled cast-iron casserole, cover the beets with water and bring to a boil. Cover and braise in the oven for about 2 hours, until very tender. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beets to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, slip off the skins. Cut the beets into 1-inch pieces, spread them on a baking sheet and refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour. In a food processor, combine the braised beets with the garlic, coriander and lemon juice and pulse until finely chopped. With the machine on, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until incorporated and the beet puree is smooth. Scrape into a bowl and whisk in the tahini. Season with salt and serve with pita bread.