Another thing to try with beets….

Since I’ve written about beets, I thought I’d share this link to a recipe for a pâté.  I came across this while perusing the food blogs that I try to follow.

I’ve not made it (yet), but in my mental image and tasting, this is an appealing combination that I’d like to try.

Beet (and other) Röstis

One of the things that we often want in cooking for one (just as in cooking for four or six) is fast and easy, and a technique that can be applied to a number of dishes. I’ve mentioned steam-sauté as a great way to cook vegetables quickly–but here are some other ideas for quick cooking.

Beets image from Swallowtail Garden seeds


Beets can normally take quite some time to cook since they are dense and hard.  One of the ways to speed up cooking is by grating or shredding a dense vegetable–think about hash browns!  You can use a similar technique with beets (or carrots, parsnips, cabbage)–cut them into small pieces so that they will cook more quickly.  Here is an example adapted from Marion Morash’s Victory Garden Cookbook: 

Grated Sautéed  Beets


  • 4 medium beets
  • 4 tablespoons butter, or olive oil
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and fresh-ground black pepper
  • Chopped fresh dill weed or parsley


  • Wash, peel, and coarsely grate beets (If small and tender, peeling is not necessary)
  • Melt butter in a covered frying pan.
  • Add beets, and stir to cover with butter or oil.
  • Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, until just tender.  (You could add a bit of water or stock–like steam-sauté technique if needed to keep from burning.)
  • Season with lemon, salt and pepper and serve.

Although this will serve four, it’s easy to cut this down to a single-serving size–there’s really nothing to measure or adjust–it’s easy to eyeball the amount of butter and quantity of beets needed.  What could be simpler!

If you want to get just a bit fancier with your veggies, you could make röstis.  This gives you different flavor and texture for very little extra effort.

 You’ve probably heard of rösti–maybe just as “potato pancakes”.  A potato rösti at its simplest is just grated (shredded) potato, mixed with a little flour to help hold the potatoes together (and maybe some Parmigiano-Reggiano), which is sautéed  in a little butter until tender, brown, and crispy.  It’s simple, quick, and yummy–and even better, it’s easily made for one or two people as it’s really not a fussy recipe:  small for a side dish, or a bit larger for a main course.

Here is a basic potato rösti recipe from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters cookbook Kindle location 1464).  This recipe makes four substantial servings, or 12 snack size röstis. Röstis are typically shaped into a cake, but can also be baked in muffin tins or on a cookie sheet

Potato-Parmesan Rösti


  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for greasing pan and your hands.
  • 1-1/2 pounds waxy potatoes (new potatoes, or red potatoes)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh rosemary or thyme
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon whole wheat flour
  • salt and fresh-ground black pepper


  • Heat oven to 350° F and grease nonstick muffin tins or backing sheet.
  • Grate the potatoes and onion (food processor, or by hand).
  • Squeeze dry with paper towels.
  • Put in bowl, add Parmesan, flour, and oil (if baking–omit if sautéing).
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Divide between muffin tins and press down, or press into cakes.
  • Bake or sauté until crisp and golden–about 30 minutes.
  • Let cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature.

Obviously, this technique will work well with other vegetables–such as beets, carrots, squash, cabbage.  You can see that this is easily cut down for a single serving: you’ll want about one-fourth this amount:  1 tablespoon oil, 6 ounces potato, 1/4 onion, a healthy pinch of rosemary, 2 tablespoons Parmesan, and a scant teaspoon of flour for one large cake, and the cooking time should be about the same since the recipe calls for dividing into cakes. Making these in single serving sizes, I opt to sauté them rather than bake them.  I omit the oil from the mixture and add a little to the skillet.

This technique can be used with lots of other vegetables–one of the advantages being that the shredded vegetables will cook more quickly than whole veggies.

Another recipe from Mark Bittman is for beet rösti from his column in the New York Times:

Beet rösti


  • 2 pounds beets (3 very large or 4 to 6 medium)
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Minced parsley or a few rosemary leaves for garnish.


  • Trim and peel beets as you would potatoes.
  •  Grate them in food processor or by hand (For a single serving, I’d use a box grater.)
  • Begin preheating 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  •  Toss grated beets in bowl with rosemary, salt and pepper.
  • Add about half the flour; toss well, add rest of flour, and toss again.
  •  Put butter in skillet; heat until it begins to turn nut-brown.
  • Scrape beet mixture into skillet, and press with spatula to form a round.
  • With medium to medium-high heat–the pancake should gently sizzle–cook, shaking pan occasionally, until bottom of cake is nicely crisp, 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Slide cake onto a plate, top with another plate, invert the two plates, and return cake to pan.
  • Keep cooking, adjusting heat if necessary, until other side is browned, another 10 minutes or so.
  •  Garnish, cut into wedges, and serve hot or at room temperature.

 This can be readily adapted to other vegetables–carrots, parsnips, rutabagas, turnips–which have about the same texture and density as beets. Once you’re familiar with the technique, you can use vegetables with different textures:  summer squash–just squeeze them thoroughly to remove moisture, and remember that they will cook more quickly than beets.

Cooking beets…

The indexing project for The Polar Times has really taken over my life right now–which is not unexpected–but it does have its problems. I think any work where there is a deadline does that, but I need to get something for quick meals around here, and it has to meet my “hot weather” requirements!

Beets image from Swallowtail Garden seedsLooking over the Durham Farmers’ market this last week I was seeing lots of lovely beets–and with the weather warming up (from my point of view getting hot!) the cold beet soup came to mind as something that would be pretty easy, keep well, and is great in hot weather.

To prepare the beets for cooking, I cut off the tops (greens) a bit above where they attach to the root; some of the greens will go into the soup, but if there are extras, they are good as a vegetable, or an omelette filling.

Cutting the tops and leaving about an inch of the stems will keep the beets from bleeding and losing flavor.  If there is a slender root tip attached, I leave that on too.  Just scrub the beets with a fairly soft vegetable brush so that the skin is not broken–again, prevents bleeding.

No matter how you cook them, you can tell  they are done when they pierce easily with the tip of a small paring knife.   When done, the skins will slip off easily.  You can cook them a number of ways–One of my favorite ways is to roast them: well and good if it is a cool day but if it is not and you don’t want the oven on for an hour or so, then consider steaming (I use my rice cooker) or microwaving them (see below).  Test for doneness as above.

Roasting:  For four medium-large (about 6 ounce) beets, rub them with oil, place them in a covered casserole or wrap in foil and bake at 400° for about 1-1 ½ hours..  Cool them and then trim off the stems, roots and peel.

Steaming: Place the beets over simmering water and steam for about 1 hour, or until done. Cool, trim and peel. Baby beets will take about 20 minutes.  I sometimes do this using my rice cooker.

Microwave:  For the size beets mentioned above, put the unpeeled beets in a microwave-safe dish with a lid or cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Cook on high for 8 minutes and let rest for 5 minutes without uncovering.  Turn the beets microwave for 3 minutes on high and let stand again without removing the cover for 10 minutes.  Test for doneness with a small paring knife.  If they still offer some resistance to the knife, cover them again and microwave for an additional 3 minutes.  Cool, peel and go ahead with the recipe.

Grilling:  After peeling, slice medium raw beets about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick, brush with oil and grill until tender. Very intense flavor. (I’ve not used grilled beets in the cold soup; I might if I ever have any “leftover” grilled beets, or manage to cook extras.)

Beet greens: Don’t forget the greens that you trimmed off before you cooked the roots! Some will go into the soup, but there might be more than you need or that.  Stem them like you would spinach–they are edible too.  If the stems are very large, cook them a bit before you put in the leaves.  They are excellent eating too. All they need is a quick braising, boiling, or steaming.  You can substitute beet greens in any recipe calling for chard.

Sweet potato & chile hash

Basic Sweet Potato & Chile Hash

Adapted from FineCooking, November 2001”Delicious Wayswith Sweet Potatoes” by Karen & BenBarker. (There are more awesome recipes in the article.The Chile Mayonnaise recipe is a keeper, too.)

Here is a recipe that I love–the combination of the sweetness of the sweet potato, with the slight “burn” of the chile pepper is just great.  The hash is excellent on its own–with grilled meats, or fish as well, and a fantastic accompaniment to eggs any way you like them.   It holds well in the fridge so “leftover” is not a bad thing with this.  If you ignore quantities, just pay attention to the flavors, you can use that half sweet potato left from the roasted Brussels sprouts to get a similar side dish in single-serving quantity since the recipe calls for you to precook the sweet potato.


  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil; more as needed.
  • 1 small onion, diced (to yield 1 cup)
  • ½ red bell pepper, diced (to yield ½ cup)
  • 2 small fresh poblano or Anaheim chiles (or other medium-hot chiles), cored, seeded, and diced (to yield ¾ cup)
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1-2 jalapeños, cored, seeded, and minced
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt; more to taste
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • Cook the diced sweet potatoes in boiling salted water until firm-tender, about 3 minutes.  Drain well and set aside.
  • In a large nonstick skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat.
  • Cook the onion, red pepper, and diced chiles, (except the jalapeños) stirring frequently, until all are well softened and the onion is golden brown, about 20 minutes.
  • Stir in the garlic and jalapeños, cook for 1 minute. Transfer to a plate.
  • Increase the heat to medium and heat the remaining 3 tablespoons oil in the pan.
  • When the oil is not, add the sweet potatoes and cook, tossing frequently, until the edges begin to brown, about 10 minutes.
  • Return t he onion and pepper mixture to the pan.
  • Stir in the salt, cilantro, oregano, and lime juice; season with pepper to taste….

Cold beet soup

I’m back from the Durham Farmers’ Market–it was a great day, even though the market is not in full summer swing yet.  The Piedmont BioFarm’s booth, which was right next to mine, had absolutely gorgeous beets. Unfortunately, they  sold quickly so  I didn’t get any today, but I’m told that there will be more next week, so I’m planning to bring some home with me then.

beets with tops from Johnny's Select Seeds.The sunshine and warm weather made me think about beet soup.  This recipe was given to me years ago by a good friend, and it’s become one of my favorite summer things to have in the refrigerator for hot weather.  It’s cool and refreshing, yet very satisfying.

I first experienced this soup when Casey brought me some, just when it was most needed:  I was moving–in extremely hot, humid weather–from one apartment to another in the same building, so it was mostly carrying boxes and lugging furniture, all very hot sweaty work.  Air conditioning was out of the question with the constant coming and going, with the doors open.

Cooking was also out of the question–mostly for reasons of fatigue, sore muscles, disruption of the kitchen, and the heat, and maybe even a dollop of laziness thrown into the mix.   That soup was the most wonderful treat, particularly under those circumstances; I’ve made it many times since and it’s at least as good, if not even better, when had in much less dire straits.

It’s not a small recipe, but it holds very well in the refrigerator;  a “left-over” taste is not a problem–and I think that the flavors actually blend and grow with standing.  I suppose you could always halve the recipe, but it’s so good that I’ve never done that–I can easily enjoy  it several days in a row!

Šaltibaršciai (Casey’s Cold Beet Soup)


  • 1/2 medium-size onion, finely chopped (preferably Vidalia or Walla Walla sweet onions)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 6-10 (depending on size) boiled, peeled, and grated beetroot
  • 2 cups water in which the beets were boiled.
  • Chopped stems and greens from the beets, steamed 3-5 minutes
  • 2 large cucumbers peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 2 handfuls of fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch of green onions, sliced thinly
  • 5-6 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 1/2 gallon buttermilk
  • 2 cups water from cooking the beets (cooled)
  • red wine vinegar (0 -4 tablespoons) to taste.


  1. In a large bowl, place the 1/2 medium onion and about 1 salt. With the back of a wooden spoon, grind together the onion and the salt to draw out the onion juice. (You really need to do this “muddling” process–you don’t get the same “blend” of the onion flavor if you simply add minced onions.)
  2. Add the remainder of the ingredients to onion in the bowl and stir well.  Adjust the flavor balance with additional salt if needed, and a wine vinegar to taste.  Add more liquid if needed for the consistency you prefer.
  3. Chill thoroughly.  Serve with boiled or steamed potatoes, chilled.  (You want boiling potatoes, not baking potatoes for this; red or Yukon gold work well.)

Wine suggestions, courtesy of Casey, were as follows:

  • Sauvignon Blanc is excellent.  The soup needs a wine with more fruit and not too herbal or grassy.
  • A white Corbières was too herbal–it accentuated the dill in the soup until it was just overwhelming.

I did not try the Corbières; overwhelming dill did not strike my fancy and I trust this recommendation.  I can attest that Sauvignon Blanc is excellent with the soup.  I’ve probably eaten this for breakfast, lunch, and supper, with wine, and without.  It’s well worth the effort of making and it may well improve with standing a few days.

I have to confess that is a spate of utter laziness, I have replaced the potatoes with cubed extra-firm tofu with a very satisfying result.  I have always thought that it’s the eggs and the potatoes that make this such a satisfying, but cool, meal.  And, it a marvelous color, too–definitely shocking pink.  I’ve not tried it with the orange beets, but that might be interesting, too.

Think it looks like a lot? Well, invite a friend. Friends are usually glad to help in cases of an excess food crisis!

A son goût!