I used to hate beets. I mean, there are a lot of things about them to hate. They dye everything red, they sometimes taste like dirt, and frankly they are a little too good for you. I think all of us out there can say that the stuff that is really really good for you sometimes doesn’t taste that delicious. But this is like kale, maybe you didn’t like it at first, maybe you don’t like it in every preparation, but I guarantee you there is a recipe out there that you will love (like Cat’s kale salad). I like my beets with a fair amount of vinegar to balance out their earthy flavor. I like to roast them to bring out the sweetness and then marinate them in vinegar.
If you haven’t tried roasted beets you are not allowed to say you hate beets. Because you probably don’t actually hate beets- these taste nothing like the canned beets that were popular when our parents were growing up and were probably the kind you ate as a kid. THESE ARE NOTHING LIKE THOSE. Roasting, as a general rule, brings out the sweetness in root vegetables. It knocks down that earthy (read: dirt) flavor and brings out a deep rich sweetness in them. With the addition of a bit of vinegar this is a super food I can get on board with.
For this meal I was using CSA items and so I deviated a bit from my usual spanakopita recipe. Spanakopita traditionally has feta cheese, spinach, and dill and it is sandwiched in between layers and layers of flaky buttery phylo dough. It’s quite possibly one of my favorite things ever. However, this time I had these beautiful beet greens that I wanted to use and so I changed it up a little. Beet greens have quite a bit of natural bitterness to them, but paired with sweet roasted beets it is a welcome bitterness. They also have a natural lightly salty flavor from the beets sending up their nutrients into the leaves (something I learned from my CSA newsletter!). Feta is a salty cheese which is a delicious balance to good ol’ spinach, but with the addition of the beet greens I decided to use goat cheese (plus I had some on hand). I made a few other minor tweaks and I put the filling into phyllo cups. Between the roasted marinated beets and the beet green spanakopita – this might be my new favorite “Greek” dinner!
Did I mention beet greens are also insanely healthy for you? Shhh don’t tell anyone- besides a little bit of phyllo this whole meal is border line too healthy to be as good as it tastes.
Roasted Marinated Beets:
3 medium beets
Olive oil for roasting
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
Cut off the beet greens (leaving a small end of the stems attached) and reserve for spanakopita. Wash beets and scrub off any residual dirt. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and wrap in aluminum foil. Roast at 350 for about an hour or until easily pierced with a paring knife.
When the beets are cool enough to handle slice off the leaf end and rub off the skin with your fingers, or a towel that you want to be permanently dyed red. The skin should slip off easily, if not they need to be roasted longer. Once the beets are clean, slice them into your desired shape- I went with triangles.
Toss the sliced beets in olive oil and vinegar and a pinch of salt and let marinate for 20 minutes or up to a few hours. Sprinkle lightly with salt before serving.
Beet Green and Spinach Spanakopita Cups- makes 6
5 sheets of phyllo dough
½ stick of butter melted
1 Tbs butter or olive oil*
3 green onions, thinly sliced white and light green parts
2 cups fresh spinach -whole if it is baby, otherwise chopped
Greens from 3-4 beets, washed and chopped
1 Tbs fresh dill, chopped
3 oz goat cheese
Juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350.
For the cups- brush one layer of thawed phyllo dough with butter and top with another sheet until you have 5 sheets layered. Slice into 6 equal portions. Press phyllo dough into 6 muffin tin spaces and bake until golden, about 18 minutes.
For the filling- melt one Tbs butter or olive oil in a large pot (before spinach is wilted it takes up a lot of room). Add green onions and sauté until soft and fragrant. Add spinach and beet greens and cook until wilted, stirring occasionally- about 10 minutes. Add dill and lemon juice and cook for one minute. Add the goat cheese and stir until melted and evenly distributed. Salt and Pepper to taste.
Spoon the filling into the phyllo cups and serve warm.
A few notes:
*Butter is always better when it comes to onions. Olive oil is an absolutely fine substitute but butter brings out a sweetness in onions that I happen to love. Is a tablespoon of butter really going to kill you? I hope to God not or I’m screwed.
– In case this is your first adventure with beets…I’m not joking when I say it will dye everything red. I recommend using a plastic cutting board for beets. The color will eventually wash out of wood but consider yourself warned. It will also probably dye your fingers- it’s like a battle scar- I eat beets and I’m proud!