Beet Ricotta Bruschetta

Beet Crostini

Open-faced sandwich are unfailingly pleasing. When a sandwich is open, its filling becomes the topping, which is a lovely reflection of the sum of its parts and a visual tease, beckoning a bite. While the sandwiches vary, often these tasty bites creatively incorporate simple ingredients, or leftovers layered over a smear of olive oil or soft cheese on sturdy or day-old bread refreshed on the grill or in the oven. The presentation is fresh, minimal, and artful, with a few fresh leaves or sprigs for garnish.

These bruschette include fresh ricotta topped with roasted beets and a spoonful of garden pesto. I call it a garden pesto because I use handfuls of the fresh new herbs that have popped up in my garden at this time of year. When the garden isn’t ready, I simply combine the supermarket herbs I’ve collected in my refrigerator. This can include any combination of parsley, mint, chives, dill, chervil, and oregano. The idea is that there is a mix of at least 3 to 4 herbs, so that one flavor doesn’t overwhelm the others. The result is a brightly green and herbaceous coulis that is delicious served with vegetables, fish, chicken, or mixed with rice and pasta. In this case, it’s a vibrant garnish to these bruschette.

Ricotta Beet Bruschetta with Garden Pesto

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Serves 6

Garden Pesto:
3 cups (packed) fresh herbs, such as parsley, mint, dill, chives, chervil, plus extra for garnish
1 small garlic clove
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra as needed
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

6 slices ciabatta or levain bread, each about 1/2-inch thick
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
6 to 8 roasted and peeled baby beets, cut into wedges
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Make the pesto: Place the herbs and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Process until finely chopped. With the motor running add the oil in a steady stream until blended. If too thick, add extra oil to your desired consistency. Add the lemon zest, salt, and pepper and pulse once or twice to blend. Taste for seasoning.
2. Heat the oven broiler or a grill. Lightly brush the bread slices with oil. Broil or grill, until toasted golden on both sides but still tender in the center, about 2 minutes. Remove and cool the bread for 5 minutes.
3. Smear the ricotta on the bread, then drizzle some of the pesto over the ricotta (You will not use all of the pesto. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for another use for up to one day.)
4. Top the bruschette with the beets. Brush the beets with a little oil and lightly season the bruschette with salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh herb sprigs and serve whole or cut in half for smaller bites.

Roasted Baby Beet Gratin

Roasted Beet Gratin

This recipe is one of my favorite ways to eat beets, especially in the winter when rich gratins are warm and satisfying. It’s also a great way to introduce the beetroot to any skeptical family member. Small or baby beets are mild and sweet, and their flavor is less assertive than their grown-up relatives. In this recipe, they are thinly sliced and smothered in layers of garlic-infused sour cream flecked with orange zest and a generous shower of nutty Gruyère cheese. All of the ingredients meld together, and while the beets are present, they are not overwhelming in flavor. As they cook, the beets release their juices and saturate the dish with spectacular color, which makes this one of the prettiest gratins I have seen. So give it a try, and let the skeptics eat with their eyes – and also hopefully with a fork.

Roasted Baby Beet Gratin

Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Makes one (8 by 8-inch) gratin or 6 to 8 (4-ounce) ramekins

2 cups (16 ounces) sour cream
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Unsalted butter
16 baby beets, about 2 pounds trimmed, scrubbed clean
4 ounces finely grated Gruyere cheese
Finely chopped thyme leaves

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter an 8 by 8-inch square gratin dish (or individual ramekins). Whisk the sour cream, garlic, orange zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a bowl.
2. Thinly slice the beets with a mandolin or knife.
3. Arrange 1/3 of the beets, slightly overlapping in the baking dish. Spoon 1/3 of the sour cream over the beets, carefully spreading to cover. Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese over the top. Lightly season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of thyme. Repeat with two more layers.
4. Transfer the gratin to the oven and bake until the beets are tender and the gratin is bubbly and golden, about 50 minutes. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm.

Beet Hummus

beet-hummus

You may have seen beet hummus before – that dip that transcends all dips, the upstager on the party table, flamboyantly fuscia in color, with FIESTA written all over it. Yep, that would be the beet hummus. Sure, the name is rather frumpy, but it makes up for any nomenclatural dowdiness with its captivating vibrance and subtle sweetness tinged with citrus and spice. In this recipe, I match the powerful visuals with bold flavors, and spike the hummus with Sriracha and lime, which stand up well to the earthy backdrop of the beets and round out the flavors.

beet-hummus-tastefood

Beet Hummus

This dip is a looker, it tastes great, and it’s healthy, too. Serve it with a kaleidoscope of cruditees for dipping, such as carrots, watermelon radishes, and cucumber wedges. Eating your daily dose of veggies never tasted this good.

Makes about 2 cups

2 to 3 medium red beets, about 12 ounces, roasted until tender, skin removed
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (or half lemon/half lime)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup tahini
2 teaspoons Sriracha
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process to blend. Add more oil to your desired consistency (it should not be soupy) and taste for seasoning.
2. Transfer to a bowl and garnish with finely grated lemon zest, chopped mint, and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with pita and cruditees.

Baby Beet Gratin

Beet Gratin TasteFood

I can’t promise that any of your beet-averting family members will do a complete 180º turn on their opinion when it comes to these earthy roots. I will suggest that this casserole might be your best chance to convert them. Baby beets are mild and sweet, and their flavor is less assertive than their grown-up relatives. In this recipe, they are thinly sliced and smothered in layers of orange and garlic-infused sour cream and a generous shower of nutty Gruyère cheese. All of the flavors meld together, and while the beets are present, they are not overwhelming in flavor. As the beets cook, they release their juices and saturate the dish with spectacular color, which makes this one of the prettiest gratins I have seen. So give it a try, and let the skeptics eat with their eyes – and also hopefully with a fork.

Baby Beet Gratin with Orange and Thyme

I prepared this recipe with a variety of red, golden and chioggia beets. So long as you scrub them well, you don’t need to peel them (and their skin is a great source of nutrients). This recipe has you assemble the gratin in a casserole dish. You can also divide it between smaller ramekins or cast iron vessels, such as 2 (6-inch) cast iron skillets (pictured above).

Makes 1 (7 by 9-inch) gratin

16 ounces whole milk sour cream
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Unsalted butter
16 baby beets, about 2 pounds trimmed, scrubbed clean
4 ounces finely grated Gruyere cheese
Finely chopped thyme leaves

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Butter a 7 by 9-inch square gratin dish. Whisk the sour cream, garlic, orange zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a bowl.
2. Thinly slice the beets with a mandolin or knife.
3. Arrange 1/3 of the beets, slightly overlapping in the baking dish. Spoon 1/3 of the sour cream over the beets, carefully spreading to cover. Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese over the top. Lightly season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of thyme. Repeat with two more layers.
4. Transfer to the oven and bake until the beets are tender and the gratin is bubbly and golden, about 50 minutes.  Serve immediately or slightly warm.

Roasted Yellow Beet and Ricotta Tian

Roasted Yellow Beet and Ricotta Tian

I find it impossible to resist beets. Their colors are magnificent – it’s a miracle that nature can provide something edible that is so vibrantly hued. With the vivid color, of course, comes nutrients. Beets are a nutritional powerhouse, rich in anti-oxidants, vitamins and beta-carotene. I purchased these beets at the farmers’ market, without knowing how I would prepare them. I was simply happy looking at them.

Prompted by a batch of fluffy ricotta in my fridge, I decided to layer the yellow beets with the cheese as a riff on lasagna, with the beet slices replacing the lasagna sheets.  Yellow beets are milder in flavor than red beets, and their nutty, buttery flavor wouldn’t overpower the cheese. I also feared the red beets would completely saturate the dish with their magenta color, which, while lovely to look, threatened to irrevocably tint my pristine ricotta. This is a visually motivated dish.

Roasted Yellow Beet and Ricotta Tian
Makes 1 – 8 inch square tian or 4 individual ramekins

1 1/2 pounds yellow beets (4 medium or 8 small)
Salt
Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
1 cup fresh ricotta
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup finely shredded basil leaves, plus extra for garnish
1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 F. Trim and peel beets. Slice very thinly crosswise with a mandoline or knife. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the beet slices. Cook until tender but firm, about 2 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Blot dry with a kitchen towel. Place in a bowl and toss with juice of 1/2 lemon.
Combine lemon zest, ricotta, garlic, basil, 1/4 cup pecorino cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper in a bowl.
Arrange beets in one layer, slightly overlapping, in an earthenware or gratin dish. Smear some of the ricotta over the beets. Repeat layering process, finishing with ricotta on the top. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons pecorino cheese. Bake until beets are tender and cheese is bubbly, about 30 minutes. Serve garnished with fresh basil leaves.