Valentine’s Day - Red Is For Beets
Where to begin. Where to begin. A lot has happened this month - February (which stunningly is almost over) - and lots of good gastronomy happening.
The first fabulous food event was on Valentine’s Day. A love and romance event with food of course as the party was hosted by my dear friend Victoria and her man Joel. The party was at Joel’s awesome beach house in Santa Monica. Victoria and Joel throw a good party and their friends are interesting, warm and lively. We were told to bring a song, a poem, or a joke. Very sweet. I brought none of those things. Kept my mouth shut. Shame on me. We had drinks and hor d’oeuvres (aka ‘snacks’) and then dinner on the deck. It was a perfectly warm February 14th night. Unseasonably so. Drought-like.
For the sharing of the ‘song, poem, joke,’ Victoria and Christine each sang songs to their men (wow!). Joel read a love poem to Victoria (I think he wrote it for her) and gave her a very public kiss. Wade Killifer told an internet Valentine’s joke. Dennis Crane told another internet Valentine’s joke – I think it was a funny knock-knock joke or maybe Wade told that joke. I can’t remember exactly. But then….. Mary Fama’s boyfriend Francisco from Chile - a real live honest to goodness poet - read (performed) a poem that he wrote which was a crazy amazing thing. No more anything after that poem reading.
Everyone was QUIET.
The poem was - a show-stopper. Francisco is the real deal for sure. Everyone bumbled around after that for a moment. Vic tried to get me to do my ‘song, poem, joke’ which actually was the tongue twister that I memorized in third grade but there was NO WAY that was going to happen. Then everyone relaxed and continued the talk and laughing. Needless to say, it was a fun evening – a good party.
Vic is a great cook and the food was of course delicious. In my mind, the stand out was the beets on a bed of beet greens. I don’t know if she made up the recipe or if it came from somewhere else but below is my version of those sweet, delicious beets.
Roasted Beets on a bed of Beet Greens
Beets (As many as you want and in whatever compliment of colors that you want. I have made this recipe twice now – once with all red beets which are the least expensive and once with a mixture of small beets, golden beets, and the cheap beets)
Beet Greens saved from all of the beets (torn into pieces)
Chives (a few finely sliced) and a few uncut
Walnuts (a handful toasted)
Red Wine vinaigrette
½ good olive oil
3 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
small splash of balsamic (white balsamic would be nice but I used the dark)
1 ½ tsp Dijon mustard
a pinch of salt and pepper
Olive oil for roasting beets
1/2 tsp Cumin
Blue Cheese (totally optional)
Preheat oven to 425°F Roasting beets Roasting beets is the greatest way to cook them if you ask me. It brings out their earthy flavor and makes peeling so so simple. Cut the stems and leaves off of the beets. Wash the beets and the beet greens very well to get the dirt off. Sort the beets according to size. Dry them off. Place similarly sized beets on a piece of foil and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap up tightly. Make a couple packets with similarly sized beets. Place the packets in the pre-heated oven and cook without opening the packets for about 35 minutes. Open a packet with the smaller beets and see if they’re done. If they’re not done, close them up and roast a bit longer. If done, remove from oven, open the packet and cool them down. Do the same with the larger beets. The larger beets will likely take between 45 minutes to an hour to cook. While the beets are cooling, wash the beet greens well, pull the stems off and pull the leaves away from the stems. Tear the beet greens into large pieces.
Put a vegetable steamer into a pot, stuff the greens in – you’ll probably have a lot of greens – and steam them for about 8 minutes or so depending on how soft you like them. Remove the greens from the pot and let cool. The greens tend to clump up so you might need to separate the leaves. Chop the chives into chive dice. Throw the handful of walnuts into a pan on a low low flame and roast until you can smell their walnutty goodness. Keep your eye on them – once they start browning they go fast.
Toss the greens with some of the red wine vinaigrette. Then spread the greens out on a platter that is a size appropriate for the amount of greens you have. I tend to go big. I love large Luna Garcia (lunagarcia.com) platters and these beets look so pretty plattered on a Luna.
Cut the large beets into chunks. Leave the smaller beets whole or cut in half. Toss the beets with the 1/2 tsp cumin (or less or more depending on taste and how many beets you’ve cooked); the chives; the walnuts; about 3 Tbsp walnut oil depending on how many beets you have. Go easy on the walnut oil.
Mound the beets on top of the plattered greens.
If you’re a blue cheese lover, crumble some blue cheese over the top of the beets. Certainly not necessary. Crumble a little fleur de sel over the top.
Lay a couple of uncut chives on top of the whole thing so it looks pretty. Criss-cross them. Serve.
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