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.