Sunday, July 10, 2011

beets are beautiful

This year and last we dug out all the grass from our park strips and one twenty foot section (away from the traffic) is dedicated to food production.  Some potato plants from last year are volunteering their goodness between the flowering cherries but for the most part we've got a thriving crop of beets, beets and more beets this time around.
When I was a kid the only kind of beet I ever ate was one that came pickled in a can.  Man, I loved that bright pink pickled root even then.  Since then I've learned to appreciate the even more delicious fresh beet in myriad ways including our household favorite, the beet pancake.
This is a great recipe that, unlike many others, requires very little cook time because the roots are shredded.  Since the caramelizing of the naturally occurring sugars makes it somewhat sweet, we have it for breakfast but have also enjoyed it as a side dish with dinner and lunch.

Beet Pancake
3-5 medium sized beets (stems removed) (this can also be a mix of carrots and beets if you're into that)
1 Tblsp. chopped rosemary
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup flour
3 Tblsp. butter
Trim the beets and then grate either by hand or in a food processor.  (I use a food processor to minimize the pink staining that always accompanies the handling of beets.)  In a bowl toss the grated beets, rosemary, salt and flour.  Heat half the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat until it begins to brown.  Add beet mixture and press it firmly into the pan.  Cook uncovered until crisp (6-7 minutes) then gently slide the pancake onto a plate (this works much more easily in a non-stick pan).  Add the other half of the butter and, once again, heat until browned.  Carefully flip the pancake back into the pan uncooked side down and cook until crisp (about 7 more minutes).  Slice and serve immediately. 

We usually prepare this as one giant cake but it could also be done in the shape and size of breakfast pancakes.  We garnish it with nothing.  It's perfect just the way it is.

(Beets are a rich source of fiber, potassium and folate and although quite sweet are very low in calories.  The greens of a beet are actually the most nutritious part of the plant.  The greens contain beta carotene and vitamin C and also have high calcium levels.  Cooking (especially with the skin on) enhances the bioavailability of the beet's nutrients.)

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