As I begin my barrage of beetroot recipes, I bring you a beet tart, a perfect savory and sweet dish that can be served as an appetizer or part of the main course. The sweet earthiness of the red beets caramelized in brown sugar is a complex treat for the palete. Heck, my partner, Scott says we should have it for dessert! I like the way he thinks.
Beets are so nutritious and have a plethora of health benefits. For example, they’re a good source of folate, B6 and potassium. Beets are high in fiber, so they are more filling with less calories, and they are a nutrient-dense food. As an added bonus, the red color is the pigment “betalain” known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
The Sugar Beetroot
Deep red and earthy, the Sugar beetroot will stain your clothes and fingers (not to mention your pee), but will make your body very happy and healthy. The sugar beet is used in this galette recipe, and in my opinion has best flavor of all the beet varieties.
When cooking beets, the healthiest choice is steaming and leaving the skins. By steaming, you are losing less of the red pigment in the water thus retaining more of the health benefits. The skins contain vitamins and minerals, too. Waste not, want not, as they always say.
Scrub the beet well and remove leaves and roots on either end and wash and scrub clean. Slice into 1/4 inch slices and cook in a steamer for about 15 – 20 minutes until just soft. Note: some folks swear by roasting the beets instead of steaming. That works too!
What to do with stalks and leaves?
What can you do with the beet stalks and leaves? I like to clean and chop the stalks and then saute them in garlic and olive oil. They make a great side dish. As far as the leaves, those can be sauteed in the same manner, or roughly chopped and added to a salad for a nice earthy flavor.
Beet tart? Isn’t this a strange combination?
Yes, it does seem unusual, but personally I find the flakiness of the crust and the earthiness of the beets an interesting blend of textures and flavors. Adding the feta cheese softens the beet flavor and the pine nuts add a crunch. Try it and let me know what you think. My favorite part of this recipe is caramelizing the beets in brown sugar. I had never done that before, and really fell in love with the results.
Try this variation…
Slice a sweet potato and steam it and caramelize it with the beet. The sweet potato is a nice complement to the sugar beet.
Or for a quick tart: Instead of making a crust from scratch, buy a puff pastry shell in the frozen section in the grocery store. Lay a piece of puff pastry on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place the beet filling in the center leaving a 1-inch margin around the outside. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes until golden.
Caramelized beets in a flaky crust
Sweet and light - perfect as antipasto or as part of main course.
- 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 6 Tablespoons butter, (cold from the fridge)
- 3 Tablespoons ice-cold water
- 2 large precooked and sliced beets – see above
- 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- feta cheese for topping – about 1/2 cup
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1 egg
- salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and grease a 12-inch pizza pan
- To make pastry dough: First, dump flour in the center of a counter or wooden board. Cut butter into small cubes, about the size of dice and add to top of flour. Make sure the butter is very cold, right out of the refrigerator. Next, using your thumbs, press down to flatten the butter cubes. Next, using your fingers, work the butter into the flour by squeezing and rubbing the flour and butter between your fingertips.
- Meanwhile, in a medium pan, heat olive oil and add cooked beets. Sprinkle a few pinches of salt on top of the beets and cook on low for 2 minutes. The salt will allow the juices to come out of the beets.
- Add the brown sugar and continue cooking until the beets begin to caramelize, about 4 minutes. Turn the beets halfway through to caramelize both sides. Remove from heat and set aside.
- When the dough is ready, roll it out to a 10 -inch round and place it in the center of the pizza pan.
- Lay the beets on top, leaving a 2-inch border between the dough and the beets. Fold the edges of the dough up and over the beets, leaving the center section exposed.
- Beat the egg with a fork and brush over the dough.
- Cook for 30 minutes until crust begins to brown. Sprinkle on the pine nuts and feta and cook for a few minutes longer to toast the nuts and melt the cheese. Put on a serving dish and cut into wedges. Serve immediately. Buon appetito!
Be sure to work quickly before the butter warms and begins to melt. If this happens, scoop everything up, put in a bowl and refrigerate for 10 minutes to harden the butter again. Once the butter is incorporated into the flour, pour the 3 Tablespoons ice cold water over the top. Still using your hands, very gently mix in the water until the dough begins to hold together. Fold the dough in half and very gently press with your palm to further blend ingredients. The entire process should take no more than 3-4 minutes. Form into a ball, wrap in plastic and let rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. The secret is to incorporate the butter into the flour with as little handling as possible.