Roasted Beets and Polenta, Two Ways

Polenta Cake, Beet Greens, Goat Cheese, Roasted beets, and Walnuts

Polenta Cake, Beet Greens, Goat Cheese, Roasted beets, and Walnuts

You read enough recipes and it becomes second nature. You just know certain things work well together–like beets and goat cheese. So you walk into the kitchen with a vague idea of what you plan to do, but then, as you get going, you let your instincts take over and you just enjoy the ride.

Beets are washed, wrapped in foil, and put in the oven to roast. Chopping garlic scapes, you feel compelled to toss a handful of them into the creamy polenta cooking (too quickly!) on the stove. After stirring in the garlic scapes, you scoop the polenta into a pan and move it to the oven to cook more slowly.

Beautiful beet greens

Beautiful beet greens

Turning your attention to the mess of beet greens, you decide they would be best if cooked down, so you set about washing and chopping them. As the timer alerts you that the beets have finished roasting, you contemplate the options of how best to use the yummy tahini dressing you just made, now that the greens will be cooked down. Drizzled over top perhaps? No, you decide, tossed with the roasted and diced beets! Removing the polenta from the oven, you cut it into six squares, and remove one to be pan seared, creating a nice and crispy cake. You toss the greens into the pan, working quickly to pull it all together after what has been a quite laborious process.

Greens ready, you begin to layer your creation.

Layers of love

Layers of love

Polenta cake, beet greens, a few dollops of goat cheese, tahini-dressed roasted beets…

Something’s missing…

Walnuts!

You grab a few from the bag your purchased just this morning, crumble them in your hand, and scatter them over the top.

Viola!

Dinner is served.

plated 2

Roasted Beets and Polenta Napoleon

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients

  • 6 medium-sized beets and their greens
  • 1 cup polenta (coarsely ground cornmeal)
  • salt
  • 3 cups water
  • Butter, for the pan
  • 2 Tablespoons garlic scapes, chopped (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons tahini
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped garlic scapes
  • 3 Tablespoons water, as needed
  • goat cheese
  • walnuts

Method

Prepare the beets: Thoroughly clean each beet, and wrap, individually, in foil. Roast in a 375 degree oven, about 45 minutes, until tender when pierced with a fork. Once cooked, open the foil and allow the beets to cool. Run under cool water and use your fingers to peel the skin from the beets (it should be very easy to do!). Dice the beets and set aside in a bowl.

Wash and coarsely chop the beet greens, discarding most of the stems. Set aside.

Prepare the Polenta: Bring 3 cups of lightly salted water to boil. Slowly whisk in the polenta, reduce heat to simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Stir in garlic and transfer the polenta to a small baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Prepare the dressing: Whisk or shake tahini, lemon juice, vinegar, honey garlic, and water until well combined.

Putting it all together: Toss the roasted beets with the tahini dressing (as much as looks good to you). Cut the polenta into squares. Heat butter in a skillet over medium heat. Pan sear each square, flattening it a bit, about 2 minutes per side. Remove polenta from the pan, and add the greens, stirring until they are nicely wilted, about 3 – 5 minutes.

Layer the polenta cake, greens, a few dollops of cheese, a mound of beets, and a sprinkle of almonds.

Beet and Polenta "Quiche"

**Beet and Polenta “Quiche”

Beet and Polenta “Quiche”

Serves 3

Ingredients

  • Roasted beets, as per above
  • Beet greens, wilted
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Cooked polenta, as per above
  • Goat cheese

Method

Spread polenta squares in the bottom of an oven-proof skillet. Spread cooked beet greens and roasted beets over top of the polenta. Crumble goat cheese over the vegetables. Whisk eggs, milk, salt, and pepper in a bowl until well beaten. Pour the egg mixture over top.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 – 40 minutes, until set. Finish under the broiler for 2 – 5 minutes, until lightly browned.

**When I posted this picture on Instagram, Helene asked me for my “recipe.”  The recipe above provides loose instructions for how I used the leftovers from the Napoleon recipe to create a “quiche” of sorts. Perhaps “tortilla” would have been a better description… the egg soaks into the polenta like it would the potatoes in tortilla espanola, but also sits lightly on top, as a quiche  would sit in its crust.

Enjoy!

-L

Zucchini Sweet Potato Fritters

Zucchini/Sweet Potato Fritters with Yogurt Sauce

Zucchini/Sweet Potato Fritters with Yogurt Sauce

As I’ve told you before, on Saturday mornings, I go to the Charlottesville City Market. Since April, these market visits have also been coffee dates with Sarah. We gab about recipes we have created recently and our ever-evolving life plans as we seek out our favorite vendors and discover new ones.

A few weeks ago, when neither of us needed to be buying anything else, we saw the most beautiful potatoes at a little produce stand that I remember purchasing from in years past–they proudly display a plaque that identifies them as one of the oldest vendors at our market. A young man was behind the table, while an older man, with one of the most thick southern accents I have come across in recent memory, stood next to the table, chatting with customers as they stopped to check out his veggies. As Sarah and I discussed the lovely potatoes before us, the old farmer not only convinced us each to buy some, but he threw in extras as a bonus! My bonus was two small, white sweet potatoes.

White Sweet Potatoes

White Sweet Potatoes

I quickly decided exactly what to do with the potatoes– combine them with the zucchini I had at home to make zucchini/potato fritters. And so, as usual, I did a bit of research to see exactly how one creates the fritters I had in mind. I looked for both zucchini recipes and potato recipes, and found inspiration from Smitten Kitchen and Sprouted Kitchen, two blogs I read regularly.

As more and more time passes since I first began to read blogs, I realize that these women are becoming my “friends”–even those with whom I have never spoken. I know little bits about their lives, the precious moments they share with the world, and I learn about them through the recipes they create. As I read their posts, study their recipes, and make them my own, it’s like I am in the kitchen with a good friend. I only wish I could be in the kitchen with these women, sipping tea and learning from them, playing the role of sous chef, or just watching them work.

For now, I’ll have to settle for cooking their recipes–or my variations on them.

Fritters cook best in a Cast Iron skillet

Fritters cook best in a Cast Iron skillet

Zucchini Sweet Potato Fritters with Yogurt Sauce

Inspired by Smitten Kitchen and Sprouted Kitchen

Makes about 8 fritters

Fritter Ingredients

  • 2 small zucchini
  • 2 small white sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 1/2 medium onion, peeled
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • butter and coconut oil for the skillet

Yogurt Sauce Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (I used 2%)
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • garlic scapes, finely chopped

Method

Coarsely shred the vegetables in a food processor. Toss with the salt, and let sit for 10 minutes before straining through cheesecloth (or paper towels) to squeeze out excess water. Combine the vegetables with the egg, flour, and pepper.

Melt a generous amount of coconut oil and butter in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Scoop about 2 Tablespoons of the mixture for each patty. Press patties flat in the pan and cook about 3 – 4 minutes per side. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Keep warm and crisp in a 200 degree oven until ready to serve.

For the yogurt sauce, combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Dollop generously over top the fritters.

Dinner is served

Dinner is served

I took Sara‘s advice and served my fritters with greens on the side and a fried egg on top. It was a perfectly delicious weeknight dinner, and would make a pretty terrific Sunday brunch, too.

Hope you enjoy these as much as I did.

-L