Golden Beets and Walnuts Tart

I have come to love beets. I even willingly drank a beet beer once. But the abundance of beets that inevitably comes from our CSA fills me with panic and dread as I try to figure out what I can do with them that my kids will actually eat.

I’ve tried making beet chips, which the younger kid seemed to like, but the older kid rejected because it still tasted too much like well, beets. I then put them in smoothies which the older kid liked but the younger kid rejected probably because it tastes too healthy. And although I think these were a success, I’m not feeding my kids cupcakes each week.

When last week’s share brought us our first bunch of golden beets, I hit the Internet up for some inspiration, searching for beet recipes my kids will eat. Among my search results was this beet, walnut, and chèvre tart. I figured at the very least, they might eat the crust without complaining and we’d call it good.

I adapted this tart in a few ways. It starts with swapping in some whole wheat flour in the crust, which you could say is to make it healthier but really, I thought the nuttiness of the whole wheat would complement the walnuts more. Next, I roasted the beets instead of steaming them, adding some flavor by throwing in some thyme sprigs. More color, as well as a healthful boost and frugal use of the beet tops was added by sautéing the chopped beet greens with the caramelized onions. Lastly, instead of chèvre, I used more kid-friendly Beecher’s Flagship cheese.

The result was gorgeous and glorious! But did my kids like it? Well, the older one picked up a beet suspiciously, asking what it was. My husband and I refused to tell her so she took a bite and gleefully declared it to be a carrot. We probably should have lived up the lie, but told her the truth. After that, her interest in the tart suddenly dropped off.
But the younger one? The one for whom it took 3.5 years before she’d willingly eat a strawberry? She begrudgingly declared it “half good,” but she also did not hesitate to eat more bites, greens and all. My husband gave me a high five on the sly. I’ll take that as highest kid praise when it comes to a hard sell like beets!

Golden Beets and Walnuts Tart

(Adapted from here. )

Tart Shell Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 to 5 tablespoons ice water

Tart Filling Ingredients
3 small beets, halved
Olive oil
2-3 thyme sprigs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
Beet greens, trimmed off of stems and finely chopped
2 tablespoons dry Sherry or whatever dry wine you have on hand
3 large eggs
3/4 cup heavy cream
4 ounces Beecher’s Flagship cheese or a hard, nutty white cheese. Maybe gruyere or even a sharp white cheddar can work
1 cup chopped walnuts (Although I think pinenuts might be a nice swap.)
About 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Start by making the tart shell. In a food processor, add the flours, salt, and butter. Pulse 8-10 times, holding the button down for 2-3 seconds each pulse, until the butter is the size of small peas. With the processor running, add 4 tablespoons of ice water until the dough just comes together. Remove to a sheet of plastic wrap and clump together into a ball, drizzling more water if the mixture is too dry. Flatten the ball into a disk then wrap tightly in plastic. Chill for at least 30 mins or up to two days.

Preheat your oven to 375. Roll out dough to a 13 inch circle then carefully lay it over a 10 inch tart pan, pressing the dough up and into the sides. Cleanly cut off excess dough by rolling your rolling pin over the top and breaking off the overhanging dough. Place a large sheet of aluminum foil over the crust and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake shell on a baking sheet for 20 minutes, then remove from oven. Carefully remove the foil and set shell aside.

To make the filling, start by roasting the beets. Turn your oven to 400 degrees. Place beet halves on a sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper and top with thyme sprigs. Wrap tightly in foil and bake for 1 hour or until tender. Unwrap beets so they can cool a little.
Heat 1 tablespoon each of unsalted butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and a pinch of salt. Stir to coat in the butter and oil then cover with a lid and reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 7 mins, stirring once halfway through cooking time. Remove lid and continue to cook onions until lightly caramelized, for me, that was about 15 mins more. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and the chopped beet greens, then crank up the heat to medium high. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add the sherry. Cook until greens are wilted, about 3-5 minutes. A lot of liquid will be in the pan. Using tongs, remove the greens and onions to a colander, squeezing out extra liquid as you do. When all of the greens and onions are in the colander, press on them with a wooden spoon to get rid of more excess liquid.
Set the oven to 350 and place the tart pan on a baking sheet.
Place the greens and onions in the bottom of the tart shell. Peel then thinly slice beats crosswise. Place them on top of the greens– you can layer them decoratively, if that floats your boat. In a large liquid measuring cup, whisk the eggs then add the 3/4 cup of cream, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Whisk together until combined then pour over the beets in your tart shell. Break apart the cheese into small crumbles and scatter over your tart.
Bake tart on the baking sheet for 20 minutes then scatter walnuts on top and return to the oven, baking for another 20 minutes or until the filling is firm but still slightly quivers. Remove from oven and let it sit for 10 minutes before scattering parsley on the top and removing the tart from the outside tart shell ring.

Yields 12 slices.
CSA count: 3 (golden beets, parsley, beet greens)
Kid rating (out of two empty plates): 1 empty plate

Notes for the working parent: I made and blind baked the tart shell, roasted the beets, and cooked the greens and onions over the weekend, storing the beets and greens separately in the fridge. I then assembled and baked the tart on a weeknight, giving me lots of downtime while it was baking to shop for workout clothes online, so you know, a relaxed, post-work cooking effort.

Roasted Beet & Chevre Pizza

It’s officially fall. There, I said it. Autumn is my favorite season so I shouldn’t mourn summer too long (other than occasionally complaining about the fleeting natural light and apologizing for the havoc that wreaks on my pictures.) One thing that helps move the transition from summer to fall more easily? Fall foods.

Like beets. I can’t help but love them. I love how their sweetness pairs so nicely with something tangy and slightly acidic. I love how the green tops are like another vegetable all on their own, making me feel like I get more than my money’s worth when I use them. I love how beautiful beets and their greens are with vibrant red, magenta pink and yellow colors, especially when roasted slices of beets get shiny and translucent, resembling stained glass.

I also love finding new ways to use beets— take this pizza for example. This pizza was inspired by a menu at a bar that John and I visit when we go on day trips to Bainbridge Island. It’s a vintage looking building, reminiscent of a New England seaside hotel, located in the downtown area with a veranda overlooking the street. The menu offers a pizza with roasted red beets, blue cheese and spinach. As delicious as that pizza sounds, we’re usually there for drinks and a light snack, well, if you’ll believe me that mini corn dogs are light. So I made a mental note to try making a similar pizza at home where there are no mini corn dogs to distract me.

I roasted some yellow beets and sliced them for the topping. Instead of spinach, I decided to put the beet greens to good use and sautéed them in olive oil with some garlic and red pepper flakes. I also took the liberty to add some bacon and walnuts for crunch and little dollops of chevre for some slightly sour tang to pair with the beets. Crispy pizza dough, sweet beets, peppery greens, buttery walnuts, and creamy goat cheese– fall has never tasted so good.

  • 4 small yellow beets, scrubbed clean and greens removed and chopped
  • 3-4 springs fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 ball pizza dough
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 pieces thick cut bacon, sliced crosswise into 1/4 inch thick pieces
  • 2 oz chevre
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnut halves, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Tear a piece of aluminum foil, about 20 inches long and fold in half. Split beets in half lengthwise and place them cut side up on the foil. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper on top. Place springs on top of beets and wrap tightly in foil. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until beets are fork tender. Carefully open the foil packet as there will be a lot of hot steam. Let the beets cool enough to touch before peeling off the beet skins and slicing beets lengthwise, about 1/4 inch thick. Set aside until ready to use.

Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil into the bottom of a large skillet and add the smashed garlic clove. Heat over medium heat. Toast the garlic clove in the oil until golden brown on both sides then discard. Add the chopped greens and red pepper flakes. Cook until greens have wilted, about 5-7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees F. To assemble pizza, roll out pizza dough to 16 inches in diameter. Place dough on pizza stone and brush with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle with mozzarella and bake for 5-6 minutes or until cheese melts. Distribute greens on top of melted cheese then add the beet slices. Top the beets with slices of bacon and return to the oven to bake for another 15 minutes or until bacon is crisp. Remove from oven and top with pieces of goat cheese and walnuts before cutting into wedges and serving.

CSA Count: 2

Beets with their green tops, garlic

Garden Count: 1

Thyme

Panko Crusted Halibut on Beet Greens

As a regular viewer of Top Chef, there’s something I don’t understand (other than how they get the cojones to call Eric Ripert their new judge when he’s been on less than half of this season’s episodes. Hello Bravo? The only reason why I’m back to watch this season is because of Ripert!) It seems like one of the biggest throw down insults that the chefs say about one another is something along the lines of “He has no game plan. It’s like he throws darts at the wall and hopes that something sticks.”

Not being a professional chef whose cooking will be picked apart on the minutest detail by judges and critics, I suppose there’s something to be said for having a vision before setting out in your cooking process, but it’s not as if cooking is a precise science like baking. It can be totally improvisational as long as you have the knowledge and skill to figure out what goes well together and how to adjust your flavors to compensate for any mistakes, somethings which hopefully if you’re competing in a nationally televised cooking competition, you’ve got. Frankly for a home cook, some of my biggest highs from cooking result from enjoying a great meal that was thrown together on the fly, ingredients and techniques decided and implemented as I go.

Take this halibut for example. I bought halibut because it was on sale, figuring that the veggies from the CSA would somehow work out into delicious sides. The CSA share arrived, and with one look at the produce, I had a vision for using almost all of them in a single dish. Really, the only things that weren’t going to be used were the green tops of some beets and herbs. No worries– I still had some baby red potatoes that I’d purchased the week before but never got around to using. So should the greens get sautéed as a side? Maybe boil them with the potatoes and make a salad? And what about that halibut? How could I make it interesting, try something other than my usual pan roasting?

Having read some cooking magazines/watched some cooking shows that all seemed to be pushing crunchy fried goodness, I was craving something crispy but frying the halibut didn’t seem quite right either. I decided to bake the fish with a layer of panko crumbs on top so the fish would be moist and tender but have a satisfying crunch on top. I dutifully heated up the oven and set some butter in there to melt and brown while the oven preheated then saw lemons out of the corner of my eye. Why not add lemon juice to the butter and toss the lemon in there so it would roast and flavor the butter as well?

With the halibut cooking, I set about boiling the potatoes. Since my fish was going to have some crunch, I wanted that texture to be mirrored in something else on the plate too. That  crunch would not come from a potato salad, but it could come from my new favorite way of prepping potatoes– boiled potatoes that are lightly smashed then cooked on medium high heat in a cast iron skillet so they crisp up. I still wanted to use the greens though so I sautéed them in oil and garlic. While they cooked, I finally knew what I would do with them– a soft pile of garlicky greens would sit under my pieces of fish giving height and color to my plates. And there you have it: a meal on the fly but so delicious and summery. The fish was tender and flaky with a nutty flavor from the butter and a light citrus aroma. The greens provided a welcome contrast to the crunchy topped fish, so soft and lightly garlicky yet bitter and deep with verdant flavor. It’s times like these that make cooking without a game plan so satisfying.

  • 16 oz fillet of halibut
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 a lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup panko crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 bunch of beets, greens and stems removed, beets reserved for other use
  • 1 medium clove garlic, smashed

Place 2 tablespoons of butter in a 11 x 9 inch baking dish. Squeeze the lemon juice into the baking dish then cut the lemon half in half and place the pieces in the baking dish as well. Set the baking dish on a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

While oven heats, use paper towels to dab off any excess moisture from the fish. Remove the skin and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, mix together the panko crumbs with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When oven is heated, dip both sides of the fish into the melted butter then set the fish down in the baking dish. Cover the top of the fish with the panko crumbs. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until crumbs are browned and the fish is opaque and flaky. Sprinkle with chopped dill.

While fish bakes, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and garlic clove in medium skillet over medium heat. Wash the beet greens carefully as they can have large chunks of dirt (and in my case since they’re organic– lady bugs!!! Ack!!!) Chop roughly. Toast the garlic until golden on both sides then remove and discard. Add the greens and saute until wilted, about 4-5 minutes. Divide the greens between two plates in a small pile. Carefully cut the fish fillet in half and set each half on top of the greens.

CSA Count: 2

Beet greens, dill