Monday, September 10, 2007

Can't Beet It

Our farmer's market haul over Labour Day weekend included a bunch of beets with the tops still attached. There were five small-to-medium sized beets and a decent amount of leafy greens, and I had visions of a beet salad and then a dish of braised beet greens with garlic alongside some fish. Alas, we got busy last week and then we went camping on the weekend and come this morning those beets were still sitting in my crisper, and some of the leaves were going icky (though the beets themselves would have lasted ages longer) so i decided they needed to be dinner tonight, in some format.

Then I remembered a salad I made last summer, with roasted sliced beets, crumbled goat cheese, lettuce and a vinaigrette made from olive oil, balsamic and grainy mustard. I have this theory that almost any salad can be turned into a pasta dish - so that's what I did, and it worked quite nicely. I roasted the beets and a couple of fat cloves of garlic for about 45 minutes in the oven at 400 degrees. Meanwhile I cleaned and chopped the beet greens, and made up the simple vinaigrette. When the beets were done, I threw them into cold water and cooked up some whole wheat fusilli. Then I squeezed the roasted garlic into the vinaigrette, tossed the beet greens in with the pasta for the last two minutes of cooking time, drained the lot of it and added the peeled and sliced beets and the dressing. The beets turned the pasta an alarming shade of fuschia, which was fun. I crumbled a bit of goat cheese over each serving and we went to town on it. It was quite tasty - sweet and salty and creamy and bitter by turns. It was a teeny bit dry - could have used a bit more olive oil, perhaps - but enjoyable nonetheless.

In other news, I made an awesome batch of chili last week and we brought some with us camping. It is the most perfect camping dinner ever; it's unlikely I'll ever spend another weekend in the woods without some chili to warm my tummy and my heart. Well, except for this weekend coming up, when we're camping at Voyageur with P&P - I've already planned the dinner we're responsible for, which is pork and apple skewers and foil-roasted sweet potatoes and onions.

Anyway, the chili: I tried using veggie ground round, and it turned out awesome. It also featured black beans and red kidney beans, some corn that I blanched off the cob myself earlier this summer, some yellow zucchini from the farmer's market, a red bell pepper and every spice beginning with "c" that I had in my spice drawer: coriander, cumin, chili, chipotle powder, cinnamon and even a dash of cocoa powder. It made an enormous batch and I still have some in the freezer for a quick dinner in the next few weeks. I'll be making this version again for sure.

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