One of my favorite Portlandia sketches is the ‘911 Beet Emergency’ sketch. You’ll have to watch it, and be a fan of beets, to know why. Even though beets always temporarily scare the crap out of me when I eat them, I keep coming back. I love their earthy sweetness, their lightness, their delicateness. Beets are somehow both super elegant and totally down to earth. Superb in summer and winter. Basically, they are perfection – especially in this dish.
Beets with Lemon, Almonds, and Goat Cheese (makes 4 servings, adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)
1.5 lbs beets (roughly 4 medium sized beets)
1.25 cups water
3 tbsp. white vinegar
1 tbsp. packed light brown sugar
1 shallot, minced
1 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 cup almond slivers
2 tbsp. goat cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper
Trim the ends off the beets, peel the skin, and slice horizontally down the equator. You should have about eight 1-inch beet slices. In a large saute pan or skillet with a lid, place the beets in a single layer, cover with water, and bring to a simmer over high heat. Once the water begins to bubble, sprinkle in a pinch of salt, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 45 minutes. Test with a fork to ensure doneness.
When the beets are cooked through, remove them from the pan. Up the heat to medium-high and reduce the cooking liquid for 1-2 minutes. When the pan is almost dry, add the vinegar, sugar, shallot, lemon zest, and pepper. Simmer until the glaze is thick and syrupy. If it gets too thick/dry, stir in a tablespoon or two of water.
Just before serving, cube the warm beets, place in a dish, spoon the glaze over the top, and garnish with almonds, goat cheese, and little pinch of lemon zest.
This dish is perfectly balanced – sweet, savory, tart, crunchy, and creamy – with the perfect depth of flavor in every bite. I haven’t enjoyed a vegetable dish this much in a long time!