Pretty in Pink
Deb over at Smitten Kitchen spelled out her resolutions for 2008, one of which was to be more frugal in her menus by using up what’s already in the fridge before heading to the market. To this I say, “here, here!!” That was until I started looking around my own fridge and realized I should have taken on this resolution about four months ago – moldy cheese, sad-looking shriveled carrots, and dried out halves of onions that I was sure I’d use up the next day but forgot all about and ended up cutting a fresh onion. Frugal I am not.
One thing that did survive months of being snubbed for some other bright and shiny new ingredient were a bunch of beets I’d plucked from the farm some time in September or October. Mind you, these beets were questionable at best upon first inspection with almost blackened skins and roots that, well, let’s just say the roots weren’t looking so hot.
If I hadn’t opened the fridge with the intention of salvaging something that might otherwise go to waste, I would most likely have moved on to fresher possibilities. But, as it was, I thought I’d give the beets a chance. They were, after all, still quite firm. It’s what’s on the inside that counts, right? After a few minutes of hard scrubbing and precision cuts to lob off the defunct roots, the beets looked half way respectable. And once the skins slipped off after boiling, they were some of the prettiest shades of pink.
The flavor also proved to be superb for this Sauteed Beets with Mustard and Lemon recipe. Since the beets were actually sweeter for their lengthy rest in the fridge, I upped the lemon juice and wished I had upped the chile pepper too. Still, this dish was deliciously light and be beauty to behold on the plate.
Sautéed Beets with Mustard and Lemon
Adapted from 5 Spices, 50 Dishes
4 or 5 medium beets
2 T. peanut oil
¼ t. mustard seeds
1 small chile pepper, slices into thing rounds
Pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper
juice of one lemon
1 T. minced cilantro
Scrub beets well. Cover with water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, until tender – about 20 minutes depending on the size of the beets. Drain and let beets cool before sliding off their skins. Chop beets into half inch thick wedges.
Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, add the mustard seeds, covering to avoid splattering. Once seeds stop sputtering, add chile pepper slices and stir once before adding beets and salt. Toss to coat with oil and then cover and let beets steam over low heat for another 5-6 minutes.
Remove from heat and place in serving dish. Toss with lemon juice and cilantro. Serve warm or cold.