So, beets… are you in or out?
If you’re in, then you have my permission to skip to the asterisk. Beet hater? Tsk, tsk, tsk…that’s soooo yesterday. Haven’t you heard? Beets are the new carrot, the bees knees, the whole ball of wax and the top banana.
It’s probably not your fault. I’ll try not to judge, but it may be difficult. Maybe your only beet memory is when your grandmother pulled a can out of the cupboard, opened it up and then plopped a very purple-y and pickled beet onto your plate, watery juice oozing everywhere, and said you had to eat the whole thing. Were you five? Did you give them a whiff and scrunch up your nose?
Although, personally, at five I was stealing those canned monstrosities off of any unsuspecting guest at the table. I loved ‘em, but I was a bit of a loose cannon at five, and usually there’s no accounting for taste at five unless you are Miss A. or Mr. N. perhaps.
If your only introduction to beets was the canned variety, then that my friends is the entire problem. Canned beets do not smell that good and canning really gives them a squishy texture and a totally bad rap. So bad. Canning can do that to any unsuspecting vegetable really. Take green beans or peas.
Have you ever tried a beautifully roasted beet though? One that has been carefully wrapped in foil, baked at 350, peel sliding right off, and then bathed in a little olive oil and dusted with sea salts (for the perfect how to roast beets photos and walk through go here)? Those are an entirely different beast my friends. Roasting brings out such a complex sweet but savory note in beets, and those beautiful purple souls will stay fairly firm, if you roast them right, with a nice toothsome bite to them…think roasted potatoes.
Blanching them for salads is also a great choice to bring out their eye-popping color,sweet flavors and keeps them a bit crisp. I like to steam the golden beets in the microwave with a sprig of rosemary for my Cover Girl Beet Salad. Add some chevre to your salad or side dish and you will be in beet heaven. I kid you not.
*Take this pizza. Thinly sliced (quarter inch thick), brushed with a touch of olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper, these beets were first grilled to get them a little charred and smoky. Bare handed, I snatched a few off the grill because I just couldn’t wait. Honestly, grilled beets are like candy people and much better for you. What ARE you waiting for?
I then brushed my pre-grilled crust with a bit of olive oil, layered on the golden and red beets, sprinkled the top with sliced prosciutto, Blue cheese crumbles and toasted pine nuts and put it back on the grill for a little melting action. The piece de resistance was some fresh spring greens (try arugula) that I threw on top just before taking that first perfect bite. Heaven. Sheer heaven.
Still not totally convinced with my beet pleas…then go shop around and check out these great beet posts. Chef in Disguise has a beautiful citrus layered beet salad, or try Eats Well With Others’ slow roasted beets with buttermilk Blue cheese, and finally Offaly Tasty’s rosted beet and barley salad.
Maybe one of these wonderful bloggers’ dishes can finally sway you to the beautiful beet side of things.
Grilled Beet Pizza with Blue Cheese
Serves two (I made this as a mini-pizza, but be my guest to double the recipe for a whole, large pizza)
One good ball of fresh pizza dough, use only half of the dough for a mini pizza with the quantities of toppings listed below.
one red beet
one golden beet
1 T. olive oil
prosciutto (thinly sliced), as much or as little as you like
2-3 T. blue cheese crumbles
2 T. pine nuts
A couple handfuls of arugula or spring salad mix
To Make the Pizza: Roll out the pizza dough about 1/4-1/2 inch thin on a floured pastry board. Slide your pizza onto a lightly floured FLAT cookie sheet (with no lip on it) and set aside.
To prepare your beets, lop off the greens (save these) and rinse your beets, then peel and slice them into 1/4 inch layers. Put just a smidgen of olive oil in a bowl large enough for all the beets. Put your beets in the bowl and grind some fresh pepper and sprinkle a little salt over them. Toss them a bit in the oil. Set aside. You may want to wash your beet greens, chop off the “stems” and chop up the leafy greens. You can toss them in with your arugula later to use on top. Thinly slice your prosciutto so it’s ready as well.
You may want to heat up your grill now because you want your grill nice and hot when you are ready to cook your pizza.
Toast your pine nuts next. Place them in a small saute pan with the stove on medium heat. DO NOT WALK AWAY unless you love burnt pine nuts. Use a spatula to flip them over now and then or simply toss them about using just your talented hand and the pan handle. Cook them until you can smell a nice, roasted, toasty aroma. Some can be a little golden brown, but DO NOT wait for them all to be brown because that’s what we like to call them “good and burnt”.
Get your crumbled blue ready as well so all of your toppings are lined up and ready for the pizza.
With the grill on only a medium to low flame (I have a gas one, there’s no accounting for taste), slide your crust onto the hot grill. Cook for 2-3 minutes (take a peek with a spatula and see if it looks golden,a little charred from the grate) and then gently slide it off the grill and flip it over. Grill it for another 2-3 minutes. Both sides should look fairly cooked, with grill marks and the dough should have puffed up like when you cook it in the oven. For an EXCELLENT and step-by-step “how to grill pizza” post go here. It will answer ALL of your questions I am sure.
When done, bring the pizza crust in on a cleaned cookie sheet (no more flour at this point) and brush with a little olive oil. Place your beets on the crust in a circular pattern, alternating colors. Sprinkle on the blue cheese and pine nuts. Gently slide your crust back onto the grill and close it so that the cheese can melt just a smidge. You can leave it on for just a minute or so, peek and then take it off when it looks good to you. We have a gas grill (I think I just heard Jed and Greg gasp), so I turn off the burners below the pizza itself for the melting stage. I leave on the burners that surround the pizza. If you have a charcoal grill, I have NO IDEA what to do. At this point in the pizza cooking, you are simply warming the toppings and melting the cheese. You don’t need to cook the crust any more so do what you will with your charcoal thingy’s.
Toss your arugula and chopped beat greens with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. Sprinkle them in mounds atop your pizza slices. Enjoy!