If you know me, or as you may imagine, I absolutely love cookbooks. I read them as others may devour US Magazine or a trashy romance novel. When I get a new cookbook, I start with the forward and work my way through the recipes, section by section, making mental note of the recipes that I want to revisit immediately and others that I aspire to cook. With so many recipes available on the Internet, cookbook buying has become an indulgence so I do lots of research before actually taking the plunge and adding a tome to my collection.
As I began my summer break, there was one cookbook that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on–Food52 Genius Recipes by Kristen McGlore. If you’re not familiar with Food52, it’s a fabulous food blog that you should add to your rotation. It covers recipes of all sorts that may not be your everyday “go to’s” but are usually worth exploring. But it was the subtitle of this new cookbook that piqued my interest, “100 Recipes That Will Change The Way You Cook.” What I expected was a collection of recipes that highlighted new techniques as opposed to off-beat ingredients and that is exactly what this cookbook delivers. For a curious cook like myself, this is pure joy. It’s a Cook’s Illustrated approach with beautifully styled photography.
The first recipe to catch my eye was “Balsamic Glazed Beets & Green” from Peter Berley. Yes, we did just happen to pick up a bunch of baby beets at the morning’s farmer’s market but more than that it was this particular line in the recipe’s introduction, “–so there’s no hanging on to the tops with some unidentified goal, only to forget and throw them away a week later.” This is a recipe of efficiency that makes use of the whole beet, root, greens and even the peel, and all in one pan, to boot. Of course, if that was the only benefit of this recipe, I wouldn’t bother to blog about it and I might have just filed it away as a good way to use beets. But when the dish circulated the dinner table once and were then kept protectively between me and my cousin Grayson, until the plate was wiped clean, I knew they were a winner. So here I share a delicious, efficient way to enjoy beets, while warning you that this is the first of many subsequent recipes I will be sharing from the fantastic Food52 Genius Recipes. Enjoy!
- 1 medium red onion, cut into 1/4" crescents
- 4 to 5 fresh beets with tops, roots scrubbed, trimmed, and cut into 4 to 6 wedges, greens chopped
- 3 Tbls balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tbls unsalted butter or extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 sprigs of fresh tarragon leaves, finely chopped, or a pinch of dried tarragon (in a pinch!)
- coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- In a heavy pan, wide enough to hold the vegetables in a snug single layer, combine the onion, beet roots, vinegar, butter or oil, tarragon and 1/2 tsp of salt.
- Pour in enough water to barely cover the vegetables and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes or until the beets are nearly but not quite tender.
- Raise the heat and boil, uncovered until the liquid has reduced to a syrup and the beets are fork tender.
- Add the beet greens in a layer on top, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.
- Uncover and turn the greens over so they mix with the roots and onions.
- Add pepper and additional salt, to taste.
- Simmer for 2 minutes more and serve.
- I never tested the tenderness of my beets during the cooking process and they came out perfect. The trick would be to cut them into bite-sized wedges and follow the timing in the directions.