Beets. People love them or people hate them. If you hate them, skip to the bottom for the zucchini fritters. If you love them, you are in for a mapley, cheesy treat.
I found this recipe in my RINO cookbook and knew instantly that I wanted to try it. I cook beets frequently, especially in colder months, and usually I roast them in the oven. I've never boiled them first, so this recipe was a first to that end. It asks that you boil 4 large beets for an hour (the water turns hot pink, then dark pink, then kind of black-ish -- it's pretty cool to see). Once they're boiled, rinse them in cold water and let them cool down a bit on a board. When they're cooled down enough to touch comfortably, you should be able to peel the skin off by just rolling the beets around in your hands.
Then, slice the beets with a knife or mandoline and lay them out on a sheet pan. Drizzle maple syrup (about 4 tablespoons) on top of each and then sprinkle a bit of large-grain salt. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 - 10 minutes until the syrup soaks in and the beets appear dry.
While I let them cool a bit, I made Smitten Kitchen's zucchini fritters. I love these. They are very simply seasoned and very simple to prepare. They really let the fresh zucchini flavor and texture shine and they are so versatile as a side dish.
I plated the beets on fresh kale leaves and topped them with crushed walnuts (I had Brazil nuts - I love how mild and creamy they are) and crumbled goat cheese (J prefers feta so we went with feta). I also drizzled on some honey Dijon vinaigrette, also from RINO. I was actually supposed to swap the honey with maple syrup to 'match' the beets, but realized this halfway through making it and went with the original. The ingredients are:
2 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 1/2 tbsp honey (or maple syrup)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp oregano
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
It's tangy and delicious.
I also cooked some pork chops. They are nothing to write home - or a blog post - about. Seasoned, seared, baked while the beets cooled. I topped those with some of the vinaigrette, too.
The beets are great. The hour of boiling softened them so perfectly (versus my usually crispy roasting) and those few minutes in the oven really let the maple flavor permeate. You'd think that sweet maple syrup on top of sweet beets would be too much, but they really enhanced each other. The vinaigrette really cut through a lot of the sweet - the spice of the Dijon and the bright tang of the apple cider vinegar were perfect. Plus, the coarse salt on the beets themselves was a great addition.
All in all, this is a fantastic side dish. If you want to cut down on time, you can certainly buy pre-roasted beets, but the nut-cheese-beet-greens mix cannot be beet... or, beat.
I know, that was terrible, but I can't help it.