A few years back, we joined a Community Supported Agriculture program. I thought it would be a cool way to eat healthier, support our local farming community and teach our kids where their food really comes from. If you’re unfamiliar with them, CSAs connect farmers with consumers to share the risks and rewards of running a farm. At the beginning of each growing season, members pay a set fee to a farmer in exchange for a weekly share of whatever they harvest. The fees help small farmers build working capital so they can earn a living while providing families like yours and mine with fresh produce. When Mother Nature cooperates, the shares are generous. When she doesn’t, the members suffer crop losses alongside the farmers.
One of the most exciting aspects of the CSA experience is picking up your weekly box of produce and discovering what’s in it. Our farm grew a wide variety of vegetables, from the familiar head of broccoli to the not-sure-what-it-is-or-how-to-cook-it kohlrabi and garlic scapes. But what I looked forward to the most were the beets and the beet greens. Before joining a CSA, I had never had or even considered cooking fresh beets. I was perfectly content with the canned beets I grew up on–the ones that were served exclusively in a salad with sliced onions, oil and vinegar.I joked about that with our farmer, Mary Anne, when I first discovered the ruby gems at the bottom of our box. She seemed to pity me for what she thought was a strictly canned vegetable upbringing and shared her recipe for cooking fresh beets. She told me to boil them until tender then peel and sauté the beets and the beet greens in butter. I followed her lead with that first bunch. The beets had a wonderfully clean and fresh flavor but lacked oomph. That’s when it dawned on me to roast them. As with any root vegetable, roasting intensifies their flavor and brings out their natural sweetness. Roasting also makes the beets easy to peel. And those greens cooked down with the beets and the garlic and the olive oil and the butter? Amazing! And all the more reason why I crave this recipe often. Thank goodness it’s so simple!
Roasted and Sautéed Beets Recipe
1 bunch beets with greens (about 3 large or 5 medium beets)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Separate beets from greens; reserve greens. Wash and dry beets, wrap tightly in aluminum foil and roast until fork-tender, about 1 hour. While the beets are roasting, wash and stem the greens (you only need to remove the large, tough stems). Remove beets from oven and allow to sit until cool enough to handle. Once cool, peel off skins with your fingers or a small knife. Cut into bite-size pieces. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, heat olive oil and butter. Add garlic; cook until tender, stirring frequently to prevent it from burning, 2-3 minutes. Add beets and beet greens; sauté, stirring occassionally, until greens are wilted. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm. Serves 4-6.