16 Nov Special of the day: Getting to know your roots-vegetables, that is…
Onions and beets and potatoes, oh my! Rugged root vegetables spilling out of bags onto my kitchen counter left me pondering best possible usage of this wonderful windfall from my friend Marnie recently.
Sweet onions sliced into thin rings were quickly caramelized and kept in the refrigerator for use on salads, pizzas, frittatas and omelets or a quick and easy appetizer tart made with puff pastry.
Visions of roasted buttered beets and a composed beet salad jumped to mind, so I fired up the oven and got roasting, drizzling the beets with olive oil and wrapping them in a blanket of foil for a long slow respite.
Popping potatoes in the oven to bake could not have been easier one night, setting out toppings of all kinds for a baked potato bar (an idea revitalized by my mom recently). And we’ve enjoyed our fair share homemade hash browns, this week, too, much to the delight of our daughter Mackenzie who loves potatoes.
Even so, I had hardly made a dent in the rations, so I went straight to the source to learn more about storage tips for fall vegetables. Audra Bergman, who owns Groundworks Farm with her husband Eric, was more than willing to help.
According to Bergman, potatoes can last for many months, almost a year, when properly stored. “They need to be very cool, slightly humid and dark,” Bergman said. She recommended a designated spot in a cold basement or a buried bucket or barrel in the backyard.
Exposure to light can cause potatoes to turn green and taste bad. Excess moisture will cause spoilage while too little can make potatoes rubbery. Bergman also advised against storing potatoes with onions which can cause them to sprout. Onions and garlic like to be cool and dry, Bergman said, explaining that moisture will encourage mold to grow in their fine, papery wrappings. Beets (washed or unwashed) should be dry and stored in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator or packed in sand in a bucket with a lid, Bergman said.
“It sounds intimidating to a lot of people, but storing bulk amounts of foods is fairly easy,” Bergman said. “People just have to get used to using what they have instead of buying new ingredients.”
This week’s Special of the day: Getting to Know Your Roots-Vegetables, That Is… with recipes for Roasted Beet Salad with Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing and Candied Walnuts and Caramelized Onion Tart. Happy cooking!Roasted Beet Salad with Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing and Candied Walnuts (serves 6) 6 medium beets, washed and dried 2-3 tablespoons olive oil ¼ cup sugar ½ cup walnut halves ¼ cup buttermilk ¼ cup blue cheese crumbles 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar Salt, to taste ¾ cup blue cheese crumbles, divided 6 cups mixed greens Roast beets: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lay out a sheet of aluminum foil and arrange beets on top. Drizzle with olive oil. Lay another sheet on top and crimp edges to make a sealed package for the beets. Carefully set on middle rack of preheated oven and roast for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Peel roasted beets and refrigerate until ready to use. (Can be done ahead.) Make candied walnuts: In a medium sauté pan over medium high heat, sprinkle ¼ cup sugar into pan to evenly cover bottom of pan. Allow sugar to melt, reducing heat, if starting to brown. When sugar is melted, add walnuts and stir to coat and toast. Remove from heat and transfer candied walnuts to a sheet of waxed paper to cool. Make Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing: In a small bowl, combine buttermilk, ¼ cup blue cheese, red wine vinegar and salt. Whisk until smooth. Toss mixed greens with dressing. To assemble: Slice beets into ½ inch thick round slices. Place one beet slice on each salad plate. Top with dressed greens and sprinkle with additional blue cheese crumbles. Top with another beet slice and repeat layering until you have three beet slices topped with dressed greens and blue cheese on each salad plate. Top each beet salad stack with candied walnuts. Enjoy! Caramelized Onion Tart (serves 10 or more) 17.3 ounce package puff pastry sheets, thawed according to package instructions 1/3 cup olive oil 5 medium sweet onions, sliced into thin rings 1 teaspoon dried thyme In a Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onions, cook, stirring frequently until softened, about 6 minutes. Add thyme. Increase heat and cook, stirring constantly until lightly browned. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Unroll thawed puff pastry on lightly floured work surface. Spread caramelized onions over the top of each puff pastry sheet, leaving a 1-inch border on all sides. Fold edges of puff pastry inward to make a frame and press to seal. Carefully transfer to baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or until crust is lightly browned. Slice in strips, garnish with fresh thyme sprigs and serve. Enjoy!
Sydne George is a food journalist specializing in recipe development, food writing and food photography. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sydne’s “Special of the day” columns and recipes are archived at: http://sydnegeorge.com/blog.