Recipe Source: Marks, Gil. Olive Trees and Honey. Wiley Publishing, Hoboken, 2005 pp. 212 - 13
This recipe really just floored me, which was surprising. I don't actually like beets. Well, that's not entirely true. I used to strongly dislike beets. They're a sweet vegetable, although they're not as sweet as carrots or the wretched sweet potato. They also have this ... smell... when cooking. It's a kind of grassy smell. I don't care for the grassy smell, possibly because I am neither cow nor ruminant. Anyway, beets grow really well in New England. They also make these wonderful green leafy things, and they're incredibly pretty. As I've been working on this website I've been working on my palate and trying to learn to like or at least tolerate beets in my diet. I've come a long way, and I think that this dish marks a major milestone. I got two beets in my farm share that week. I started looking for things to do with them and I found this recipe. It required more beets than I had, but I wanted this recipe more than I wanted to not eat beets so I added them to my list at the grocery store. I am so incredibly glad that I did!
The part of this dish that I loved so very much was the sour cherry sauce. There was plenty left over later, and I had it with some lamb chops later in the week. It was still pretty incredible. This did necessitate a procedural change, which requires a little bit of explanation. When we hold our open houses on Sundays, we never know how many people will show up, even when we ask for RSVPs. Last week we expected about 14 and got something like 20. The previous week, when this dish was served, we expected six and got one. We put out a call for emergency diners and still had a wonderful night. Still, the one person we did get was kind of a maybe and has an allergy to cilantro. When I was working on this dish I'd initially intended to make it with all dill, but I thought she might not show and I decided to add the cilantro in because I'd given up on my friend. She came anyway. I'm very glad that she did, but I decided to serve the dish a little differently than originally intended. I served it over rice with the sauce separate, so that L. didn't have to be exposed to the "poison" as she calls it. I also splashed the beets themselves with a bit of vinegar so they wouldn't be too bland.
Again, I loved this dish, especially the sauce. Seriously, try this. The important thing in terms of the sauce is to use unsweetened dried sour cherries. I got mine in the bulk section of my local Whole Foods. Amazon.com has some options as well.
Beets with a Sour Cherry Sauce (serves 8; approx. $2.09/serving)
2 pounds beets, peeled and diced
2/3 cup dried sour cherries
1 1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons butter (make it vegan with olive oil instead)
2 onions, finely chopped
1 bunch chopped fresh cilantro
1 bunch chopped fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups brown rice
4 cups water
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- Loaf pan
- Small saucepan
- Medium saucepan with glass lid
- Mixing bowl
- Immersion blender
- Frying pan
- Preheat your oven to 375.
- Put the beets in the loaf pan and drizzle with the olive oil.
- Roast until tender, about 40 minutes to 1 hour. This will largely depend on the size of your dice.
- Meanwhile, bring 4 cups water to a boil in the medium saucepan.
- Add the 2 cups brown rice - I like brown basmati, it's what I keep on hand. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the rice cooked and fluffy. This is why I like a glass lid - when I've tried to cook rice with a metal lid and a timer I've tended to burn it or undercook it. Maybe I'm just incompetent, but the glass lids work for me.
- While the beets are roasting and the rice is cooking, combine the sour cherries with the 1 1/4 cups water in the small saucepan. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until uncovered, about 20 minutes.
- Transfer to the mixing bowl. Use the immersion blender to make a happy little paste out of theme.
- Melt the butter in the frying pan over medium heat.
- Add the onions and the salt. Saute until translucent.
- Add the cherry puree, cilantro and dill.
- Put a sauce bowl in the middle of a serving platter. Arrange the rice around the bowl. Scatter the beets over the top of the rice. Sprinkle the rice with the vinegar. Pour the sauce into the bowl and serve.