And the beet goes on
Just wanted to post a quick update on my veggie adventures. Last week I received beets in my produce box, which was a little scary because I’ve only ever eaten them in a restaurant, but in a way I was kind of glad that I was forced to learn how to prepare them. And it turns out they’re not scary at all! The other night I made a Tart with Beets, Figs, and Chevre (goat cheese), a recipe I found on gojee.com, a really fun site where you can search by what ingredients you have, as well as put in what you don’t like (so I won’t get any recipes that have mayonnaise or mustard in them…yuck!). The tart turned out really good! When I first saw the size of it, I was afraid it wouldn’t be enough for two people, but because the crust turned out to be more like pie crust, the richness of it made it so that we only ate about two-thirds of it (because we were eating intuitively and stopped when we were satisfied). Here’s the full recipe, as well as some photos I took of my beautiful creation:
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 6 Tbs. cold butter, cut into small chunks
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 Tbs. white vinegar or lemon juice
- 3-4 Tbs. ice cold water
- 3 medium beets
- olive oil, salt and pepper
- tart dough (from recipe above)
- 6-8 oz. chevre (soft goat cheese)
- 1/3 cup dried mission figs, stems removed, sliced into thin pieces
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar (I used already-reduced balsamic vinegar)
- 2 Tbs. chopped fresh mint leaves
- In a food processor, pulse together the flour and salt to combine. Then, pulse in the butter chunks until you have a mixture that is a coarse meal that still has pea sized pieces of butter in it.
- Pulse in the vinegar and the water one Tbs. at a time until the dough just starts to come together. Then, turn it out and press it into a ball with your hands.
- Flatten the ball of dough into a thick disc, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. You can prepare the beets while the dough refrigerates.
- Preheat your oven to 425F. Wash and peel the beets, then slice them into rounds that are about 1/4 inch thick.
- Toss the beets with a splash of olive oil. Spread them out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet (you may need to use 2 baking sheets) , then sprinkle them with a little salt and pepper. Roast them in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until they are tender and easily pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool briefly.
- Turn the oven down to 400F. When the tart dough has chilled, roll it out on a lightly floured surface into a circle about 1/4 inch thick (or a bit thicker). It can have ragged edges, that’s fine, but fix any cracks by pressing the dough together with your fingertips.
- Crumble the chevre into small chunks (this is a slightly sticky process) and sprinkle half of the cheese onto the tart crust, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges.
- Sprinkle the sliced figs on top of the cheese, then follow this by layering on the beets (still leaving a 1-inch border). Sprinkle the rest of the chevre on top.
- Fold over the edge of the tart, toward the center, folding and overlapping the dough to keep it circular-ish. Slide carefully onto a baking sheet (if it is lined with parchment paper, it makes things – especially clean-up – easier) and bake at 400F for 25-30 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted.
- While the tart is baking, put the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn to a simmer, then cook until thick and syrupy and reduced by about three-quarters, about 10-15 minutes. Set aside. (I skipped this step because I used already reduced balsamic vinegar purchased from my grocery store)
- When the tart is finished, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes. Before serving, drizzle the balsamic syrup all over it and sprinkle the mint leaves on top. Slice the tart into thin slices to serve as an appetizer. Or have bigger slices accompanied by a green salad for lunch or dinner.
From the looks of it, this recipe seemed pretty involved, and I assumed it would take me a really long time to prepare it. It turns out it was fairly easy (especially since my awesome new food processor did all the work in preparing the dough for the crust!), and the actual hands-on time was less than an hour. Not too bad for a gourmet-ish meal!
Sometimes, however, I can’t afford to make something that requires an hour of hands-on time, so I like to have go-to meals that are quick and tasty. One standby dinner we’ve been making a lot lately are tostadas. My husband grew up in Mexico, where these were a staple in his household, usually topped with things like beans, ham, cheese and avocado. Tostadas look like hard taco shells flattened out, and can be topped with almost anything you want. I believe they also sell a baked version, but I have yet to find them in my grocery store. When we make tostadas, we usually start with a base of refried beans, and then throw on some sliced avocado and panela cheese…two of those are usually enough for me as a meal. Last week we mixed it up a little and used chopped up green leaf lettuce from our produce box, as well as some leftover crockpot chicken my husband had made (basically just chicken breasts, whatever salsa you like, throw it in a crockpot and cook on low overnight) to create a sort of taco salad tostada. They were super quick, and really yummy!
I’m realizing that preparing a delicious, well-balanced, satisfying meal doesn’t always have to be super involved and complicated. However, sometimes it’s fun to challenge myself to try to make something new that might take a little more effort. Either way, I’m happy to avoid having to order in or eat out as frequently, because as long as I’m eating at home, I’m not only saving money, but I can also have more control over what’s in my food