This week we enjoy the first of farmer John’s garlic by roasting an entire head of garlic in the same casserole as the beets; turning the garlic into delicious buttery goo and infusing the beets with garlic essence. I love these sweet roasted beets, juxtaposed with their barely bitter greens and tangy salty feta cheese–sweet, sour, salty and bitter all in one bite. Make this recipe soon after you get the beets, because beet greens deteriorate more quickly than other greens, and the cheapatarian in me does not want to see them go to waste. Spread crackers or crostini with the roasted garlic cloves not used in the dressing.
1 pound golden beets
1 head garlic
3 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon Real Salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon minced onion
Pinch cayenne pepper
¼ cup feta cheese, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Trim the beet tops, leaving a 1-inch tail, reserving the top greens. Scrub the beets. Break the garlic up into individual cloves, but don’t peel them. Put the beets and the garlic cloves in a small casserole, add about ½ cup of water and cover with a lid or foil. Bake until a knife slips easily into the largest beet, about 1 hour; the time will vary depending on the size of the beets.
Meanwhile tear the beet greens off the stems, discarding any yellowed or wilted greens. Cut them into 1-inch ribbons. Set aside.
When the beets are tender, let them cool enough so you can slip off the skins, then trim the tips and tails and cut the beets in wedges or slices.
Squeeze about half the cloves of the soft, cooked garlic into a bowl and mash it well with a fork. Add the 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the balsamic vinegar, orange juice, minced onion, salt and cayenne, and whisk together well. Toss the beets with half of this dressing.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a skillet. Add the beet green ribbons. Cook and stir until the greens are wilted and tender to your bite. Toss in the remaining dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Transfer the greens to a serving plate. Place the cut and dressed beets over the greens. Garnish with crumbled feta cheese, if desired
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