Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Vacation recap + Beets

Like I mentioned in my weekly finds post, we were away this past weekend! We drove to Atlantic City Friday night to meet up with Joey's mom and grandma, and then came back Sunday after lunch. We hit a disgusting amount of traffic on Friday, mostly due to weather and probably weather-related accidents. It took us 8 hours to get there!! Joey was a trooper and drove the whole way so I could get some work done. He also drove the whole way back on Sunday, where we thankfully hit much less traffic and made the drive in ~5.5 hours.

Even though the weather was pretty cloudy, we had a great time in AC. There was a sand sculpting competition with some really impressive sculptures. My favorite was the giant castle (below).

We even got to sit out on the beach for a few hours when the sun came out. I got a little sunburned...totally worth it though.

We got back to Charlottesville late afternoon - Joey went straight to frisbee pickup, and I started some typical Sunday activities - laundry and cooking. Someone in lab has a giant garden/farm, and brought in a whole bunch of beets. She was willing to give them all away, if someone would bring back a few of them cooked for her (she doesn't know how to cook them herself). I quickly volunteered - we love beets!

Here are some simple recipes for what I did:

Roasted Beets with Balsamic Glaze, and Garlic Sauteed Beet Greens
Recipe: Adapted from Simply Recipes

~2 lbs beets
1-2 tbsp olive oil

greens from beets
1 tbsp olive oil
5 cloves garlic (use less if you don't love garlic!)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1 orange, zested
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 450. Line a baking sheet with foil. Cut the greens off of the beets, and wash the beets REALLY well. They grow completely submerged in the dirt - they are DIRTY!!
Once your beets are clean, pour the olive oil on a paper towel and pat it onto them. (My paper towels started falling apart when I tried to rub it on them.)
Wrap each one in a square of foil, and put it on the lined sheet. If any of the beets are really tiny, you can put a few in each square.
Put in the oven, and check after 30 minutes by opening the foil and poking a fork into the beet. If the fork goes in easily, and as far as you can push it, they're ready. It took ~45 minutes for the small and medium beets, and ~1-1.25 hours for the big ones.

While the beets are cooking, prepare the beet greens.
You want to take out the center rib of each leaf, it's really tough. I just ripped chunks of the greens off of the leaf, so they were in bite-sized pieces and I didn't need to worry about cutting. Rinse them off REALLY well. Put in a colander to dry.

When beets are done cooking, let them cool for a bit. Then put on some disposable gloves (or use plastic sandwich baggies) to protect your hands, and rub off the skins with a paper towel. They come off pretty easily, but the cooked beets will make a giant mess if you're not careful! The bright pink juice will get everywhere, and it WILL stain if you don't wipe it up right away. (If your fingers turn pink, don't worry, it'll fade.) Chop up the beets in big bite-sized chunks, and set aside.

Slice or mince the garlic - depending on how much you want in each bite. I sliced two of the cloves and minced the remaining 3 (and warning - 5 cloves of garlic will make it very garlicky!)
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, until golden but not brown. Add the torn and cleaned greens bit by bit, turning over as it wilts. Add salt and pepper. Continue adding as room opens up in the pan. Cook until they are all wilted, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, but leave on the hot burner.

In another pan, heat the balsamic vinegar and sugar over high heat. Cook until it gets thick and syrupy, 5-10 minutes.
Put the cooked beets back in the pan and add orange zest, salt and pepper. Toss to coat, and keep heat on until everything is hot.

Now, everything is done! The beet greens can be enjoyed as is. You can either have the beets as a side, or add them to a salad. We like putting them with spinach or spring mix, and adding goat cheese (1 oz per person), and a handful of sliced almonds.