Category Archives: beets

Roasted Beet Potato Salad

beet potato salad with toasted pumpkin seeds

Yes, Isabel, I have been enjoying potato salad of late.

There was a time when I hated potato salad, but I kept trying it again, and finally had to remind my dear friend Isabel to tell me not to eat it. Not the case now, I have met a number of potato salads that I rather like (one in particular that is closer to classic than this, but with raw fennel and a light creamy herby dressing. One for another time).

“Let’s cook beets” turned into dinner here through a little cream cheese, a few extra herbs, and some toasted pumpkin seeds. Not bad for an open-the-fridge-and-see-what-we-find meal. Sour cream would also be acceptable.

In other news, fall!

Additionally, I am planning a trip to Germany at the end of November. I imagine I shall be taking a two-week hiatus from Dancing Tree as well, but promise to have plentiful food photos from my travels!

Beet potato salad
5 or 6 medium beets, or fewer large ones
5 or 6 small potatoes
Olive oil
1/2 red onion
1/2 cup cream cheese
Chives and parsley
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted (roast in oven with salt for a few minutes)

Roast the beets first. This may take a while, and can be done in advance. Chop, put in a pan with some oil, and roast at 350-400º for at least 30 minutes. Roast the potatoes the same way, although I recommend a separate pan if you can swing it, since beets have a little more water and it’s nice to let the potatoes get a bit crisp. Once they are soft (stab them with a fork or knife to determine pliability), remove from the oven and let cool.

Meanwhile, chop up the red onion and other herbs. Place the onion in a large bowl and add the semi-warm beets and potatoes; mix. This will take the bite off the onion just enough to add a little kick without being overwhelming. Mix in the cream cheese, allowing it to melt a little in the warmth, and then the rest of the herbs. Taste and salt and pepper as needed. Top with toasted pumpkin seeds, and enjoy with a side of toast (not required but recommended).

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Winter Lentil Salad

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Yum, food. As I was derelict in my previous post, I am now providing you with a lentil recipe. With winter vegetables, no less (and admittedly a few additions). But first I have a bunch of fun things to share, since I’m on all these mailing lists and come across a variety interesting articles that I think you’ll enjoy.

There has been a considerable interest lately in the increasing power of women in agriculture: globally in the face of climate change, in sustainable ag generally (something to do with a nurturing spirit? Although I reject the concept that that has to be a feminine trait), and overall in the food and farming sector. This is partly because women tend to be better at collaboration, which is increasingly important to the new economy, and especially in this emerging field. And partly because the world may be changing. Slowly. Go ladies!

Related to the new economy: can farms be a part of it (think Uber for farm storage)? And to new stuff in general: what about printing 3D crackers (although I don’t quite understand how this is different from making actual crackers).

More related to this recipe: if you need another incentive to eat less meat, here’s a fun video about water use in food, from Grist. And finally, a shoutout to Montana, and growing awesome heritage lentils. Lentils are great for ecology, since they fix nitrogen in the soil, but are also packed with protein. The article also includes a lentil recipe, so… get cooking!

This recipe is vegan, gluten-free, paleo (I think? I don’t know much about paleo, to be honest), what have you… but the tahini keeps it nice and creamy. Fresh, interesting, filling, and tasty—do you need another reason?

Warm winter lentil salad (this makes a lot, so you have it for lunch)
2 cups cooked green lentils, or 1 cup dry
4 or more carrots
4 large beets, or more smaller ones
A head of garlic
Olive oil and salt
A leek or two, or an onion
Other greenery (bok choy, spinach, kale, etc)

Dressing:
Tahini (a large spoonful)
Olive oil (2 large spoonfuls)
Apple cider vinegar (a small spoon)
Coconut butter, if you have some (a small spoon)
Turmeric
Salt
Fresh orange juice, if you have it

Chop up carrots and beets—I pretty much quartered both of them (I like long carrot pieces). Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and roast with garlic cloves until soft and getting caramelized, at least 30 min at 350ºF or so (turn over with a spatula a couple times). Watch the garlic cloves—they burn faster than the veggies. While the veggies are roasting, cook the lentils, if you haven’t already (cover with at least an inch of water, bring to a boil, then simmer until soft. Drain as necessary). Chop up the leeks or onion (slice onion lengthwise to have it hold more body) and sauté briefly until soft. Chop up greens, if needed.

Stir together dressing ingredients (mine got a little curdled, but still tastes good, so don’t worry about it too much). Taste, adjust, and thin with water if needed. Toss lentils, carrots, beets, whole garlic cloves, greens, and leeks together, and then mix in dressing.

Best served slightly warm or room temperature, although it is also good cold.

Ginger Pear Sauce over Roasted Beets and Parsnips

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Oh, and with goat cheese and pomegranate seeds. I don’t want to overwhelm you.

I am hoping to give you pear envy though.

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This is one of those awesome dishes that I made partially one day and then refined the next. The first night I roasted beets and parsnips together, and poached some pear slices in white wine with a bunch of ginger. It was pretty good, and I did add some spices to make it better, but it was still missing something and I spend a good while mulling over what it needed. The next day I had the same thing but added goat cheese (I had been thinking ricotta, actually, but goat cheese was easier to acquire) and pomegranate seeds. Super delicious and not a set of flavors I encounter as an ensemble too often.

The first night, sans cheese and pomegranate
The first night, sans cheese and pomegranate

I talked a little about poaching pears in my last post. This time I made it up—a little white wine, a little honey, and a whole bunch of ginger. The spice of the ginger pairs nicely with the sweetness of the pears, and makes it more pleasing as a main dish (although to be honest I wouldn’t mind eating it for dessert). I also sliced the pears because pears don’t soften in the same way apples do and I wanted to make a sauce out of it. Parsnips and beets each have a distinctive enough flavor to stand their own within the dish, but roasting them together allows flavors to blend (or something. Mostly it’s just way easier to only use one pan). Coriander and cardamom add delicate, floral scents to the dish.

I suggest this as a side (/salad?) to your next fancy dinner party. It’s easy, showy, distinctive, and delicious.

Roasted beets and parsnips, with pear ginger sauce and additions (amounts for 1 person)
3 beets
3 parsnips
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp coriander
3 or so small pears
A piece of ginger, about the length of your thumb from tip of the nail to knuckle
1/2 cup dry white wine
A small spoonful of honey
Maybe 1/4 cup ricotta or fresh goat cheese

Wash, chop, and roast beets and parsnips with a little salt and olive oil until tender but still with a slight crunch. If you’d like, toss the spices in with the veggies as they cook (I added them as an afterthought, but I think they’d be better internalized).

Peel, core, and slice the pears. Peel and slice ginger. Place in a small saucepot with wine and honey. Bring to a boil and simmer gently, covered, for 5 or so minutes, until pears are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated (uncover to evaporate more, as needed).

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Place roasted veggies on a plate (or serving platter), and cover with pear sauce. Crumble/dot chunks of cheese on top, and then strew with pomegranate seeds. Sprinkle lightly with spices if you haven’t added them already, and serve.

Roasted Beet, Walnut, and Goat Cheese Salad

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(I’m at a conference this week so a quick bite so you don’t starve while I’m away.)

Towards the end of my college career, the dining hall started serving these awesome entrée salads on the end of the salad bar. This was my favorite, although they would top it with blue cheese or no cheese instead of goat, and would usually put feta on instead (the dining hall was pretty fantastic, but no goat cheese on a regular basis).

When you are in the process of roasting things, roast a lot of them. These beets I think I decided to roast when I was making squash and cookies one day, to use my oven efficiently. I knew I wouldn’t eat the beets any other way, and they’re better if you can let them take your time, which is not always the case when you come home wanting immediate food. Once you have the beets, and the walnuts (I also toast a bunch of nuts at once and then keep them that way—I don’t think they keep quite as long, but it’s worth it to have toasted nuts around to toss on things or just munch on), you can throw together this salad any time and it’s AMAZING. I used spinach as a nice winter vegetable but you could really do anything you like, or skip the greens altogether and just have the other ingredients, which complement each other quite nicely.

Roasted Beet, Walnut, and Goat Cheese Salad
Beets
Walnuts
Goat cheese
Spinach, or other greens
Balsamic reduction, or vinegar and olive oil

Do you really need this? Roast the beets and toast the walnuts, if you haven’t already. Don’t even bother mixing dressing together, just drizzle on some balsamic and olive oil, then toss on the goat cheese and dig in.

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(With a side of squash, as I am wont to do.)

Fried Tofu with Beet Cabbage Slaw

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Look at that gorgeous color! Beets are so cool. This even has golden beets in it as well as the classic purple ones, but the pink colors kind of takes over. Yum.

This is about the only way that I do tofu. When I get tired of it, I’ll probably branch out (in fact, I’m thinking I will probably run out of all my basics to tell you about here so I’ll need to really try some new things. I’ve been wanting to get some new cookbooks too which will hopefully help). But tofu soaked in soy sauce and fried is just so good, why do it any other way?

Also, you can get Maine-made tofu! It is called Heiwa tofu. I honestly don’t know much about different varieties of tofu and what makes one better than another, but it tastes pretty good to me and I like supporting a local.

The slaw recipe came from my farmers, who publish a few recipe suggestions with each CSA. It is a very fresh slaw, letting the vegetables feature rather than the dressing. Have I told you about my farm yet? It is called New Beat Farm and is horse-powered (as in, only uses horses, no fossil fuel) and certified organic and generally just awesome. It’s a beautiful spot near Knox, Maine. I get eggs from them as well as vegetables and they are delicious.

I also added an avocado to this salad-thing. Not totally necessary, and a little extravagant since avocados do not, in fact, grow in Maine, but very delicious. There is unfortunately just no local substitute for the texture and light flavor of avocados.

Fried tofu 
Tofu
Soy sauce (you can also use something like balsamic vinegar if you want)
Vegetable oil

Slaw
About 1/2 head cabbage
2-3 raw beets
(Carrots would also be a good addition)
1 cup scallions
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper

More scallions
Avocado

For the slaw (you can make this ahead of time if you want): Cut up the cabbage in thin strips. My mini food processor is not small enough to do this, but if yours is, go for it. Grate the beets (same deal with the food processor). Slice up the scallions thinly. Mix together the oil vinegar, salt and pepper.

Put everything together in a bowl and mix. Let it sit, mixing every few minutes for about 20 minutes.

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For the tofu: Cut it up in small chunks. I like doing this because it is so easy to cut in straight lines and make them all the same size. Not that it really matters (although you always want ingredients to be around the same size so they cook evenly), it’s just pleasing.

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Put them in in a flat-ish dish (I like to use a pie pan, because it is flat but wide and has some sides, unlike a plate) and sprinkle with soy sauce until there is a thin layer of soy sauce at the bottom of the pan. Let it sit for a few minutes, turning them over every now and then with a spatula, until they are all brown.

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Heat up the oil – there should be a shallow layer in the pan (I use cast iron, but then again it’s my only pan so I don’t have much choice) – over medium-high heat  until quite hot. Make sure you are wearing an apron. Carefully put the tofu into the pan. It will spit! (This might be a good place for one of those spit-guards if you have one.) You can add the leftover soy sauce if there isn’t much, but don’t add a lot of it – you want them fried, not steamed, and they can get too salty if you use too much. Let them fry for a few minutes, them turn them over with a spatula, again being watchful of spitting oil. Turn every few minutes until they are nicely golden brown on all (or at least most) sides and, most importantly, crispy.

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Now you are ready! Put some tofu on the plate (leftovers keep in the fridge and are also good cold), top with extra scallions if you like, then avocado and the slaw. I ate this kind of as a salad, I guess, but I think it would also be excellent on a sub.

Fried tofu is also good with sliced kohlrabi and parsley (and some scallions), drizzled with a little lemon or a vinaigrette. Which is what I packed for lunch at the office the other day. And then I had to take a picture at work when I assembled it. Don’t worry, no one was around.

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