Bountiful Summer

We have spent $33.14 on groceries this week. Being a discerning foodie comes with a price, and in the dead of winter, we can spend as much as $400/mo on food. Summer in Iowa is wonderful because there is a bounty of fresh fruits and veggies readily available, and for cheap. We’ve really cut back on food costs this season by joining a CSA and by growing our own veg in a community garden.

One of the biggest producers in the garden right now are the beets. You may have noticed how they snuck their way into a few of the recipes as supporting characters, but this week they get a leading role.

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Curried Beets

I was craving something sweet and a little spicy. I wanted sweet, but still savory, and I want something hearty, but not too heavy. These sweet, caramelized, roasted beets rose to the challenge and were great with a bowl of mashed potatoes and some kale. I used all ground spices except for the coriander seeds. I didn’t want the texture to be too grainy (as it might be if all the spices were ground just before use), but the freshly ground coriander does add an extra dimension of texture that I enjoyed. With that said, it’s a matter of preference. If you only have ground spices on hand or if you prefer grinding all of your spices just before use, just be sure to adjust accordingly. 1/4 tsp ground coriander will not effect the balance too much, but whole cardamom pods and cumin seeds take up more volume than their pre-ground counterparts and you’ll need a little more of each to balance the blend.

Ingredients

1 lb fresh beets

1/4 tsp ground turmeric

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp whole coriander seeds

1/4 tsp ground cardamom

1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper

1 tbsp coconut oil

Pre-heat the oven to 375.

If using whole coriander seeds, grind them in a mortar and pestle or a small coffee grinder until all of the seeds are broken apart and coarsely ground. Blend all of the spices together in a small bowl and set aside.

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Peel and slice the beets into 1/4″ thick disks, Then toss with the coconut oil in a bowl until all of the beets are coated. It helps if the coconut oil is slightly warm and liquid to get an even coating.

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To get an even coating, very gradually add the spices by sprinkling a thin layer of spices over the beets, stirring to combine, then repeating until all of the spices have been used.

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A couple of the beets may stick together, but just pull them apart and keep stirring until every beet has some spicing.

Spread the beets into a single layer on a roasting pan, then bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes, stirring once, until the beets are golden and soft when poked with a fork.

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These are great as a side dish or with some other sauteed veggies. If making as a side dish, this recipe serves two, but I could easily eat a batch on my own!

In addition to the buckets of beets we keep bringing in, my herbs have recovered from the careless hacking I subjected them to a couple of weeks ago and responded in full force.

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Remember when I wasn’t sure what I should do with the tarragon? I found a simple, yet elegant solution to my conundrum and put a simple and sweet twist on the classic basil pesto.

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Tarragon Pesto

Using basil and tarragon in a one to one ratio gives this pesto a floral sweetness, while still maintaining the classic, earthy, and piquant aroma of the basil pestos we know and love.

Ingredients (Makes approximately one cup)

1 packed cup of fresh basil

1 packed cup of fresh tarragon

1/3 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

In a food processor, pulse the basil and tarragon until coarsely chopped. Add the pine nuts and parmesan and pulse until the nuts have been chopped and evenly incorporated into the herbs. Continue to pulse the herbs while slowly drizzling in the olive oil. After the oil has been incorporated, use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the food processor, then replace the lid and blend until the herbs are  well shredded.

Store in an air-tight container in the fridge until ready to use. This is great companion to a simple pasta dish, but I was craving pizza.

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Pesto Pizza with Heirloom Tomatoes

The smell coming from my oven while this was baking was downright heavenly. I’ve never been a big fan of pesto pizzas because the ones I’ve tried have always been the “white pizza” varieties that lack the fundamental tomato sweetness I love. This version doesn’t use a traditional tomato sauce, but the slices of heirloom tomatoes are absolutely bursting with flavor that intensifies with baking.

I had mentioned to my boss that I would be making pizza and that I had yet to find a good pizza dough recipe I could rely on. Boy, did he deliver. He usually makes this in a bread machine, which takes all of the guess work out of the kneading and rising process, but this could easily be done with a Kitchen Aid mixer or by hand.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons of olive oil

1 1/4-3/8 cup room temperature water

1/3 tsp salt

3 cups all purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour (do not use whole wheat pastry flour)

2 tsp dry yeast.

If you have a bread machine, I would recommend doing it that way and just follow the guidelines in the manual to get it set up. If you have a standing mixer, use the dough hook to work the dough for about 8-10 minutes, or until the dough is tacky and cleans the sides of the bowl (no left over flour!). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm spot to rise for about an hour, or until it doubles in size. If working this by hand, you’ll want to knead it for at least 10 minutes and until you can press gently on the dough and it springs back quickly. Put it in a lightly oiled bowl (to prevent sticking), cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let rise for an hour.

This recipe makes enough dough for two large pizzas (serves 4-6), or 4 medium sized ones (serves 2-3).

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Wrap whatever dough you don’t use in plastic wrap and store it in the freezer for another day! To shape the dough you will use, gently form it into a ball, then start tugging it at the edges to stretch it out. It’s usually best to let gravity do the work, so dangle the dough and start working your way around until the dough is pulled into a disk about 1/4″ thick.

The secret to the perfect crunchy crust is a pizza stone. If you don’t have one of these, you can use a metal pizza pan (the one with holes to vent moisture), but if you do have a pizza stone, this is the time to pre-heat the oven to 500 with the stone on a rack in the center of the oven. Let the stone pre-heat for 30 minutes before using. If you’re not using a pizza stone, just give your oven enough time to pre-heat to 500 before you put your pizza in.

When preparing the pizza, it’s easiest to do so on lightly floured parchment paper. It can go in the oven with the pizza and makes transfer a breeze.

I made a medium pizza and used about 3/4 cup of the tarragon pesto, but you can use as much or as little as you’d like. For this round, I wanted to keep the toppings simple, so I just used the pesto, a few slices of heirloom tomatoes, and some shredded mozzarella. I would also try this with Gruyere that has been shredded and dried out a bit before sprinkling over the pizza.

After you’ve topped your pizza, brush the edges of the crust with some olive oil and let the pizza rest for about 10-15 minutes before setting it in the pre-heated oven and baking for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges are golden and the cheese is bubbly.

Let the pizza cool a bit after you’ve removed it from the oven. It’s easier to slice and there’s nothing worse than a pizza burn on the roof of your mouth.

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Anden and I gobbled this up in a matter of minutes. The next time I make this pizza, I would love to try this with some braised greens and sausage.

Until next week!

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. Janet Rörschåch says:

    Love the curried beets. Great job.

    1. Beth'sBites says:

      Thank you! It’s been a fun challenge to find ways to use up all of the beets!

  2. eclecticlamb says:

    These recipes look awesome!

  3. Debbie says:

    Love the idea of mixing the tarragon w/basil- brilliant!! And beets?!? Oh my!!! ****jealous***!!! And just beautiful- nice job!!

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