Smashed Beets with Crispy Sunchokes, Arugula, Lemon Vinaigrette, Fresh Mint + Thyme

This is the time of year to experiment with alternative holiday dishes. I love the Thanksgiving spread of biscuits, stuffing, roasted vegetables, turkey, etc., but I always end up wishing I’d replaced a few of the traditional dishes with lighter, fresher, more interesting options. This dish was inspired by my recent fascination with smashing potatoes. I just like dishes better when you get mixed up in the creamy, crispy, salty, sweet, lemony bits and such. I made this dish, had a tiny sample plate, and walked away for just a moment. When I came back upstairs it was gone; devoured wholly by my boyfriend who left not even a trace of crispy goodness in the skillet.

I used baby chiogga and red beets, but if you’re making this dish for more than two people, use either more baby beets, or bigger beets, or whatever you can find. This is, so far in my life anyway, my favorite version of beets. They are crispy, while maintaining a creamy inside, and the lemon and arugula add such a freshness and lightness to the dish.

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Smashed Beets with Crispy Sunchokes, Arugula, Lemon Vinaigrette, Fresh Mint + Thyme

Inspired by Bon Appetit

Prep: 15 min    Cook: 1 1/2 hours     Serves: 2

12 baby beets-8 chiogga, 4 red
8 small sunchokes, sliced thin
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
Olive oil: for drizzling, baking & vinaigrette
Fresh mint & thyme
1 handful arugula
Sea salt & pepper
Maldon-flaky sea salt

1. Heat the oven to 400°F . Place the beets on a baking sheet and drizzle with oil and a grind of sea salt. Roast for 30-45 minutes, or until they are slightly browned. Adjust roasting time depending on the beet size.
2. After the beets roast for about 20 minutes, add the sunchokes to the baking sheet, roast with the beets until everything is somewhat golden, but not too browned.
3. In the meantime, mix the vinaigrette: lemon zest, lemon juice and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium bowl.
4. Remove the beets and sunchokes from the oven. Allow the beets to cool slightly, and then gently rub off the skin. It helps to use a paper towel. After removing the skin, crush the beets with the bottom of a small bowl.
5. Heat a skillet over medium-high and add a tablespoon or so of oil. Place the sunchokes and beets in the skillet. Brown the beets and sunchokes on one side for about 4 minutes, then flip and brown the other side. Put the crisped sunchokes and beets in the bowl with the vinaigrette, add a small handful of fresh mint and thyme and toss to coat.
6. Place the arugula in the still hot skillet and stir until it just begins to wilt. Add the sunchoke-beet mix back to the hot skillet, add a grind of Maldon and pepper and serve immediately.

 

Chocolate Beet Cake

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I made this chocolate beet cake in honor of the creative and beautiful energy expressed in the video made by Tiger in a Jar. I’ve watched their video so many times, mesmerized by it’s beauty and simplicity, that I’ve pretty much memorized the recipe by now. My roommate and I were talking about why a video like this is so inspiring when it is so simple—it just shows ingredients and the process of making a cake. But we figured it was the old time feel, the comfort and beauty and simplicity, the celebration of food, and the lovely use of beets.

The cake itself is incredibly photogenic, and more importantly, delicious. The beets add moisture and a rich sweetness, one that lingers on your tongue instead of the sharp, quick sweetness you get from refined sugar. Using good, dark chocolate is absolutely essential as this adds the best flavor and pairs perfectly with the beets. I followed the measurements for the recipe, but changed a few of the ingredients like usual. Instead of using white sugar, I used coconut palm sugar. Instead of white flour, 100% whole wheat (I really like the density and chewiness of whole wheat). I used Green&Black’s 72% baking chocolate, which turned out to be just perfect. Also I use vanilla powder instead of the liquid, I like the flavor of the powder more.

A few notes: when I melt chocolate I always do it in a glass bowl over a simmering pot of water, never in the microwave. When most of the chocolate looks melted, I take it off the heat and stir until the rest melts. I boiled the peeled beets in water for about 45 minutes, until they were soft and easy to cut with a fork. Then I pureed the beets in the vitamix with a little beet water (we saved the rest of the beet water for future clothes dying projects). Finally, make sure you let hot ingredients (the melted chocolate and pureed beets) cool some before you add it into the rest of the mix, this way you don’t cook the eggs. I garnished the cake with figs, raspberries and baby beet green leaves because of their beautiful color.