Young beets are starting to come to the market. Here’s one way to make the most of them, root, stems and all – an eye-popping crimson vegetable spread (pictures on our website.) Keep the remaining leaves to cook as “greens” and toss pretty small leaves into salads. You’ll also have left-over beet juice to make a little summer refresher Waste not!
8 oz. fresh beets, with tails, stalks and leaves
salt and pepper
½ tsp dry-toasted coriander seeds
¼ tsp dry-toasted cumin seeds
1 Tbs. olive oil, plus a drizzle to finish
7 oz. container of plain Greek yogurt
a few pistachio nuts or toasted crumbled walnuts
1 tsp. finely sliced mint
flat bread, naan, or thinly sliced baguette
Trim beet tops, keeping a 1-inch collar of stems; leave on tails. (Save remaining stems and leaves.) Wash beets very well. Simmer in lightly salted water, covered, till very tender and skins slip off easily, about an hour.
Peel beets. Return skins, tops and tails to cooking water, along with fresh stems, finely chopped, so they bleed into the water as it cools. When cool, pass cooking water through a cloth-lined sieve.
Toast coriander and cumin in a dry pan and crush – finely in the case of the coriander, lightly for cumin. Stir spices, olive oil, and 3 tablespoons of thick yogurt into the beets. Season well with salt and pepper.
Lighten 1 tablespoon of yogurt with a few drops of milk to make it creamy. Swoosh the rest of yogurt over a serving plate, using the back of a large spoon. Leaving a rim of white yoghurt, spread beets over the middle, then swirl the final spoonful of creamy yoghurt into the center of the beets for a ripple effect.
Strew over pistachios or crumbled walnuts, drizzle over a little more olive oil, and scatter over threads of finely sliced mint and beet leaves.
Serve with flat bread to swipe through the dish. For 2, as part of a light meal, or for3-4 as a starter. Easily doubled.
Beat-the- heat drink: Think of this as somewhere between a shrub and light borscht. For 2 cups of strained beet-cooking water, start by adding 2 Tbs. sugar and 1 Tbs. red wine or apple cider vinegar. Stir, taste and adjust sweetness and acidity to your liking. If you salted the beet water very lightly you might even want to add a tad more salt (as an overall taste enhancer) to get the sweet-sour balance where you want it. Serve icy cold with a cucumber slice in the glass.