Monday, April 23, 2007

Give Beets A Chance: Recipe for Caramelized Beets with Garlic

Thinning beet greens in the kitchen garden with baby Cary - FarmgirlFare.com
Harvesting young beet greens with Baby Cary last spring.

"Who here likes beets?" I asked my cooking class students. Almost everyone raised their hand.

"Wow. A room full of beet lovers. This is great. Okay, do you like garlic?" Enthusiastic nods all around. "Then I'm going to tell you the easiest, amazingly delicious way to prepare them."

It didn't matter to me (or my students) that this was a class on making cream cheese pastry. Certain things simply need to be shared no matter what the circumstances, and my recipe for Caramelized Beets With Garlic is one of them.


Last summer's tiny but tasty beet harvest.

One of the best things about homegrown beets is that even if you abuse them, they will still taste delicious. The plants will put up with frosty mornings as well as hot and humid summer days.

The beets you see above were planted late and thinned too late (those are the giant thinnings in the top photo). They were also left in the ground until July 31st, so some of them ended up much too big—and looking a little strange.

I then stuffed my poor harvest in a plastic bag and stashed it in the refrigerator for two months because I wanted to save it for my beet-crazy mother's upcoming visit. I was sure the beets would be tough and woody (not to mention half rotten), but I should have known better--beets from the garden do not hold a grudge. They were wonderful.

It's not too late to plant some beet seeds in the garden. Check out my kitchen garden blog post, How To Grow Beets from Seed and Why You Should, to learn how.

Farmgirl Susan's Caramelized Beets with Garlic
There are plenty of other ways to cook beets, but even if I have a 100-pound harvest someday I will probably never try any of them because I am so addicted to these.

The two most important things you need when making this recipe are plenty of beets and plenty of time. Beets shrink down a whole lot while cooking, and if you or a kitchen companion is a hungry nibbler, they'll shrink down even more. Start with way more beets than you think you'll need; my foodie mother and I ate this entire harvest in one sitting.

Cooking time will vary depending on how big a pile of beets you're cooking, the size of your beet dice, and how high you set the burner on your stove. Figure a minimum of 45 minutes, but it'll probably take more like an hour (trust me, it's worth the wait).

So easy. Scrub your pile of fresh beets under running water. If the skins seem a bit thick or tough, you can peel them. (I’ve never made this with store bought beets—or ever bought beets at all, come to think of it—so I don’t know what the skins are like.) Trim the tops and bottoms, then cut into about 1-inch dice.

Pour a generous amount of your favorite olive oil in a large skillet or pot and heat (a cast iron skillet works great and is one of the best kitchen bargains around). Add the beets, stir to coat with oil, then cook slowly, stirring often.

Meanwhile, peel several cloves of garlic, sprinkle them generously with salt, and chop them up. When the beets are fully cooked and caramelized, make a hole in the center of the beets and add the garlic, stirring around to make sure the garlic touches the bottom of the pan and cooks.

Cook about 1 or 2 mintues; do not let the garlic brown. Stir the garlic into the beets and serve.

If you happen to have any leftovers, they taste great the next day, either reheated or straight from the fridge.

Still hungry? You'll find links to all my sweet and savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.

© FarmgirlFare.com, the beet loving foodie farm blog where Farmgirl Susan shares stories & photos of her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres.

28 comments:

  1. Hi Susan, I was looking at something else on the computer, with a window open to your site when this post arrived. How cool. The beets sound yummy! Also, thanks again for giving me the ok to share your recipes with my friends on that recipe "chain letter". They liked them. I sent one of them the bean soup recipe and the blueberry bar recipe to the other. Wish I was back there at my little country home; the Ozarks are beautiful in the spring--before it gets 100 + degrees, anyway.

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  2. I'll give beets a chance any day--yum! And, I've got to say that the lambs nosing your sheepdog in the last post is a picture of cuteness incarnate.

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  3. This sounds sooo good. Now I'm off to check out how to grow beets. It's worth a try I think.

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  4. Perfect timing as I have... beet seedlings! Yeah. Love the sheep photo updates too.

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  5. I'm a huge fan of beets (and will be growing some in my vegetable garden this year:), but I've never caramelised them! Bookmarking the recipe, so when the time comes, I can do just that!

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  6. Oh My Gracious. I just found your blog and I LOVE IT. The lambs, Cary, beets. It simply does not get better than this. I live on Long Island, (NY) and am geting my eensy beensy 11'x11' veggie garden ready for the annual Planting of the Tomatoes. I think I must have beets. No, I KNOW I must have beets. Not too late to sow? I surely hope so. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.

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  7. I don't even like beets and I can attest to the tastiness of these ...

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  8. Thanks for the recipe, I posted too soon that I didn't see it.
    Also, some time, sprinkle some gorgozola cheese while the beets are still hot; totally yummy

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  9. Last year I grew beet and we pickled it and sometimes roasted it. We are just eating the last jar of pickled beet so we are looking forward to a new harvest. We also have lots of garlic growing in our veg garden, so your recipe will fit in fine down here on the farmingfriends farm. Thanks for sharing and I love the photo of the lamb with the beet.

    Sara from farmingfriends in the UK

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  10. I like beets but don't eat them as often as I could. Perhaps if I had my own garden patch and a super cute lamb to keep me company I'd incorporate them into my diet more...the beets...not the lamb!

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  11. anything caramelized with garlic is a good thing...

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  12. You grow your own beetroots, how lucky! Your posts always make me dream (of a better life)...

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  13. Susan,
    That's my kind of recipe.

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  14. Everyone keeps telling my I should try beets, but I have it in my head I hate them. Perhaps it's time to put this notion to rest. Great recipe!

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  15. What a fabulous sounding recipe! I've just tried growing beets last fall in 5 gallon containers (no room for a vegetable garden!) and they were delicious.

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  16. Thanks. I will try this tomorrow:)
    Lydia

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  17. My beets are just starting to sprout... I'll have to try this recipe when they get a little bigger. I always end up not eating them all... maybe this time I'll be planting for a second harvest. Thanks!

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  18. What a fantastic recepie! can't wait to try it. I love your blog, girl after my own heart. Greetings from a damp garden in London, England.

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  19. Hmm, I happen to have LOTS of beets and garlic. This might be just the right time for this.

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  20. Thank you! So marvelous recipe! I like it! You can also try these recipes, may be you'll have some new ideas! Let me know!

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  21. I had to wait a full season to try this with fresh beets. We live in South Florida and we just pulled our first crop for our growing season. Thank you so much for this recipe. It was the first time I've ever enjoyed eating beets!

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  22. I was eager to taste this, so I diced the beets very fine (1/8" square by 1"), and crushed-then-minced the garlic.

    I also used some grease that was left in the pan from cooking bacon.

    It came out very nicely in 15 min., despite some very old, tough beets.

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  23. so i know this was posted some time ago, but i just made my beets this way for dinner tonight (my husband and i are avid beet lovers) and i have to say thank you! absolutely delicious! my husband is now worried that i will no longer roast beets and only make them this way (and he is probably right).
    your recipes are always amazing. thanks for the great ideas!

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  24. Susan, These were so simple and delicious that I couldn't help adding some cardamom and writing about them! Here's what I did: http://noshesthoughtsreves.blogspot.com/2009/07/csa-week-5-caramelized-beets-with.html

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  25. I enjoyed making your Caramelized Beets with Garlic recipe last week! I think I kind of burned the garlic - that's going to take some practice! - but everyone enjoyed it! I didn't make enough however, so I now know what you mean about using more beets than you think :-). Thanks!

    Cliff Sharples

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  26. Hi Susan. This is only my second comment (and on a very old post at that) but I've been stalking your site for more than 2 years now. It's the only blog I read regularly. Just tried this recipe last week and my partner and I both loved it. Although it's not the official season, beets are popular here in winter, as they keep so well. So thanks to their deliciousness and their beautiful colour, these will be on our X-mas dinner table next week. Have a great Christmas, Cynthia (from London)

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  27. I wasn't so successful with these. I used too much olive oil and salt, and think I left it on too long after putting the garlic in because it was actually crispy...

    I will try again with next week's beets!

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  28. try trimming the ends washing really well, tossing them whole in olive oil then put in foil with a whole head of garlic cloves broke up in there, unpeeled. Liberally salt and pepper. then seal the foil and put on the grill outside or in the oven about 45 mins - an hour until a knife inserted feels no resistance. When you take them out, you can use rubber gloves to slip the skins right off, cut in quarters or however you like it, then take the roasted garlic cloves and squeeze out into beets, then mix. I could eat a gallon of these by my self. If there are leftovers, I put them in containers with some balsamic vinegar and eat cold, oh my yummy!!!

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