Beets are a delicious, nutritious, economical root vegetable. When you buy beets from your local farmer, you get two foods for the price of one: Not only do you get the nutritious bulb, you also get the tasty greens! And, beets are in season for a good chunk of the year throughout New Mexico, which means they can play a reliable role in your menu planning. This warm salad is one recipe that makes use of both the beet bulb and the greens:
(Makes 2 to 4 servings)
- 1 bunch of beets, with greens attached (about 3 to 4 medium beets)
- 1/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon, olive oil (you can also use other oils, such as canola)
- 1/8 – 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 to 4 dried red chiles, or to taste (try any local red chile)
- 2 to 4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thin
- 5 ounces of goat cheese
- 1 tsp sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup water
Preheat your oven to 400 F.
Scrub the beets and wash the greens. Cut the greens from the beets and set aside.
Cut the beets into wedges and toss in 1 tablespoon of oil. Lay the beets out in a single layer on a baking sheet or oven-safe skillet and sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper. Bake, covered, until fork-tender (about 35 to 45 minutes, depending upon the size of your beet wedges). Remove the cover and bake for 10 minutes more. When nicely browned, remove from the oven and set aside.
While the beets are baking, wash your greens and remove the stems. Chop the greens roughly and set aside to drain.
Pour 3/4 cup of oil in a skillet and sauté the garlic on medium low heat (don’t let the heat get too high, you don’t want to burn the garlic).
Cut the stems off your chiles, slice them open, and remove the seeds. Add them to the hot oil along with the garlic. Sauté the chiles for about a minute or two with the garlic.
Turn the heat off your garlic and chiles, and let them cool for several minutes. Carefully pour everything — the cooled oil, garlic, and chiles — into a blender or food processor. Add 1/4 cup of vinegar, goat cheese, sugar, and salt to taste. Blend until smooth. (If the dressing seems too thick, add water a tablespoon at a time to thin it out.)
To the skillet from which you just removed your oil, chiles, and garlic, add the washed, chopped beet greens. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup water and cover, steaming the greens over medium heat until cooked and wilted. Remove the cover and continue cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated.
To serve, lay the cooked beet greens on your plates, top with baked beets, and drizzle the dressing over the top. Then, enjoy the delicious marriage of sweet beets, cooked greens, and a creamy red chile dressing! This recipe can be served in larger portions alongside rice, or as an accompaniment to roast chicken or pork.
(Makes 2 to 4 servings as a side hot salad, or as part of a meal.)
Recipe and photos by Christina Keibler.