Eat to the beet! Dishes to root for
Make delicious whipped feta dip and chocolate beet cake with root vegetables
’Tis the season for root vegetables.
If you didn’t manage to get yours out of the garden before our recent snowfall, don’t worry. Parsnips are even better when left until you can barely dig the soil, and most beets and carrots are even sweeter after the first frost.
If you have harvested a haul from the backyard or the farmers market, they keep well in a cool, dark place once their greens have been trimmed. (Cook beet greens like you would kale or chard, and carrot tops can be turned into pesto.)
All root vegetables — beets, parsnips, turnips, rutabaga — are great for roasting, mashing (more so the parsnips, turnips and rutabaga than beets) or turning into soup, which always freezes well if you want to put a stash away for the winter. You can also grate them raw into baked goods like muffins, quick loaves and cake, just like carrots and zucchini.
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Although beets can be used raw in many dishes, they often benefit from being roasted first, and are more easily accessible when they’re ready to go in the fridge.
Wrap large beets (or a few smaller ones) in foil and place them directly on the oven rack to roast while you’re baking something else (a large-ish beet will take about an hour), or pile a bunch in the slow cooker and cook on low for four to six hours.
Once cool, the skins will slip right off, and you can keep them in the fridge to slice directly into salads, turn into pickles, add to soup or risotto (really!) or make this delicious whipped feta dip of sorts from Stephen Smee of Ten Foot Henry — a version of this recipe comes from the new Calgary Eats cookbook, compiled by Gail Norton and Karen Ralph.
Roasted beets with whipped feta, lemon and dukkah
Adapted from a dish created by chef Stephen Smee of Ten Foot Henry, via the new Calgary Eats cookbook.
1 cup Macedonian feta
Juice of a lemon, plus a bit of zest
¼ cup chopped almonds, hazelnuts or pistachios
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp sumac
½ tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp kosher salt
¼ cup freshly ground pepper
2 roasted beets, peeled and diced
1-2 tbsp red wine or sherry vinegar
1-2 tbsp olive oil
chopped fresh dill, parsley or mint
Whip the feta with the juice of a lemon and a bit of its zest in the food processor until smooth and creamy. To make the dukkah, combine the almonds, sesame seeds, cumin, sumac, thyme, salt and pepper in a small dish. Toss the roasted beets with the vinegar, oil and a pinch of salt.
To serve, spread the feta on a plate and top with the beets, a generous sprinkling of dukkah and a bit of chopped dill, parsley or mint. Serve with pitas or other flatbread, or crackers. Serves six.
Chocolate beet cake
This cake is delicious plain, or you could drizzle it with a simple icing, or spread it with cream cheese frosting.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
¾ cup cocoa
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt, thinned with milk
½ cup canola oil
½ cup packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 large or 2 medium beets, roasted, peeled and grated
½-1 cup chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, oil, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients along with the grated beets and stir just until combined. If you like, stir in some chocolate chips.
Pour into a well-greased bundt pan and bake for an hour, until the top is cracked and springy to the touch. Let cool for about 20 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.