I have a little notebook which I carry around with me, and as inspiration strikes I jot down ideas for meals or combinations of ingredients I’d like to try. As the weather turned colder and the selection of local veggies at the Greenmarket got smaller, I began to think about beets. Which, historically, neither of us has been particularly crazy about. At all.
But in our continuing quest to broaden our palates, we decided to give beets another chance, so from time to time I would write down a few thoughts about what to do with them. There was borscht, obviously, and also some sort of beet/goat cheese combo, but I like to think my best idea was this:
beets + beet greens + farro + bacon
Because really, what doesn’t bacon improve?
So when I sent Mike off to the Greenmarket yesterday morning, I asked him to pick up some beets, preferably with the tops still attached, as well as some of our favorite Tamarack bacon. He reported back that the only beets he could find were trimmed, but he was kind enough to go back at lunchtime and pick up some young red chard at my request.
After weighing my cooking and cleaning options, I decided to roast the beets in a foil pouch. I placed them into a 375 oven for about an hour and got to work on the rest of my ingredients while they cooked. I chopped four strips of bacon into about 1 inch pieces and placed them into a skillet to fry. In a separate pan, I cooked a cup of farro until it was tender but not too soft. When the bacon was crisp, I removed it from the fat and set it aside, and then removed about half of the fat and set that aside as well.
When the beets were cooked and cool enough to handle, I peeled them with a paring knife and cut them into chunks. I tossed them in with the cooked farro, then added the bacon and gave it all a gentle stir. I warmed up the fat that was still in the pan from cooking the bacon, added one finely chopped garlic clove and cooked it just until fragrant, then added my roughly chopped chard and a pinch of salt. When the greens were just wilted but still bright green, I removed them from the heat and added them to the beet/bacon/farro mixture. I placed the reserved bacon fat back into the pan to warm, then poured it, along with another pinch of salt and a healthy splash of sherry vinegar, over the mixture and gave it another stir.
The farro turned a rather comical shade of fuschia when it was tossed with the beets, but I have to admit that the deep red beets and bright greens were a nice change of pace from the red/brown palette of our recent meals. But did this dish change our minds about beets?
I’m pleased to report that it did. As I suspected the combination of flavors worked really well together, and the flavor of those roasted beets was far, far superior to anything we had tasted growing up. As it turns out, beets are yummy. Who knew?