And The Beet Goes On

“They’ll keep,” my mom reassured me once I told her how I’d accidentally bought seven pounds of golden beets from the local farm collaborative. This is a bit of a problem for me: I have a hard time judging proportions. I once accidentally bought nine cubic yards of soil for a garden. 

While some might find this to be a nightmare scenario, my love of beets went into overdrive. (I mean, I did name this blog after them.) The first few pounds we juiced in the juicer I picked up this fall through the Buy Nothing Northampton Facebook Group. After we cleaned up the kitchen, I roasted another three pounds and enjoyed them throughout the week. On Monday night we had roasted beet Reubens, made with sauerkraut from Real Pickles, and bread from Rise Above Bakery in Greenfield. 

On Tuesday, I reached for my Ultimate Nachos cookbook for some Taco Tuesday inspiration. Although there was a recipe for beet, apple and goat cheese nachos, I landed on “The Joker Guacamole,” because, well, guacamole. The recipe was clearly intended to be made with red beets to end up purple and green, like the Clown Prince of Crime. My beets’ golden color meant my guacamole wasn’t stained, but neither were any of my cutting boards nor my hands. I cut back on the amount of garlic and lime juice in the recipe below because it was too strong.  

I also made queso because cheese sauces are generally something that makes me happy. This recipe dirties two saucepans and takes a bit of attention and time, but it was totally worth it. I used Cabot sharp cheddar cheese and it was perfect. I felt like I was at a ballgame as I dipped my tortilla chips into the cheese sauce and mound of mashed avocado. Even Lilli, my picky eater, enjoyed the cheese sauce on top of pasta that night. 

The rest of the week we enjoyed beets in salads, with hummus in sandwiches, and tzatziki. They also featured in a fresh “Winter Roll” with sprouts, arugula, roasted butternut squash and raw carrot with a peanut sauce.

There’s a single golden beet left, and you might be think I would be done for a while. But I just roasted a (much more reasonable) batch of red beets and have started using them. And the circle of life continues.

Beet Guacamole and Bechamel Cheese Sauce (Queso) from Ultimate Nachos by Lee Frank & Rachel Anderson

Beet Guacamole

Ingredients 

2 avocados, halved lengthwise, pitted, and flesh scooped out

1 garlic clove, minced

Juice of 1/2 lime

Salt and pepper

1 small roasted beet, trimmed, peeled and grated

Directions

In a medium bowl, mash the avocados with the garlic and lime juice, using a fork

Season with the salt and pepper

Fold in the beet. Do not overmix. 

Season again with salt and pepper to taste. 

Bechamel Cheese Sauce

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups whole milk 

8 ounces melting cheese of your choice, shredded (about 2 cups)

Salt and pepper

Directions

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. 

Add the flour and stir until a smooth paste forms, 5 to 6 minutes. 

Meanwhile, in a separate pan, heat the milk until it is just about to boil. Be careful not to burn the milk. Burnt milk is cringe-worthy. 

Gradually add the hot milk to the butter mixture, and whisk continually until smooth. Bring the sauce to a boil. 

Cook for 10 minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from the heat, immediately add the shredded cheese, and stir together until evenly incorporated. 

Season the cheese sauce with salt and pepper to taste. 

The Second Time Around

Man, things are so different the second time around. With Lilli, we were so clear with our rules: No sugar until her first birthday, no screen time until she’s two. And now with Bea? She had Fluff last week and has seen every presidential debate to date. (And let’s just say Lilli is making up for lost time with the screens.)

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Now, now, it’s not as bad as it sounds. We’d made Lilli a Fluffernutter which she obviously rejected after one nibble. Since we’d been given explicit directions by the pediatrician to expose Bea to all the allergens that trip kids up – her first bit of peanuts was mushed-up Bamba a month ago – we figured, why not give her a little? And she loved it. I mean, what’s not to love? It’s all sugar.

fluffernutter

We’re not doing that much better for our own dinners. We ate nachos for dinner last week. To be fair, it was National Nachos Day, and the nachos involved roasted butternut squash that had been tossed with maple syrup and sprinkled with cayenne and cumin. There were also sweet balsamic onions that did a perfect job of balancing the spice of the squash. They were phenomenal, and would have been even better if I’d used the gruyere that the recipe called for instead of the shredded cheddar we have on hand for Lilli’s quesadillas. (She likes them best with stars and moons carved into them. Thanks, Ranger Rick Jr. magazine for that pro tip.)

quesadilla

The recipe comes from The Ultimate Nachos cookbook, which is home to the horchata recipe I just shared with you guys. Some might be surprised to hear how much use a nacho cookbook gets used in my kitchen, but I’m really serious about my nachos. There’s a taco shop very close to us, Lone Star Taco, that makes my favorite ones in town. I went there solo on my birthday for them, and that’s where I’ve chosen my Mother’s Day brunch two years in a row. What can I say, I really dig nachos. Incidentally, Guy Fieri featured the place on his Boston show and we once totally sat next to some fans of his who had come specifically on his recommendation. And yes, I told them to get the nachos.

nachos

Being a nacho recipe, it’s pretty straight forward, except that I found the directions for prepping the squash a bit confusing. After I peeled the squash, I cubed half, then sliced each piece thinly, and saved the other half for this recipe. It honestly didn’t take very long to do.

Autumnal Nachos

½ butternut squash

2 Tablespoons maple syrup

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon ground cumin

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

1 large red onion, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon sugar

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

7 ounces corn tortilla chips – approximately half of a store-bought bag, or, if prepared fresh, use 15 corn tortillas, each cut into 6 triangles

6 ounces shredded Gruyere cheese (about 1 ½ cups)

¼ cup sour cream

Directions

Preheat oven to 425F

Peel the butternut squash and then cut it in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and fibers from the center. Thinly slice the squash and then cut it in half again lengthwise.

In a medium bowl, toss the squash with the maple syrup, cayenne, and cumin.

Place the squash on a parchment paper or aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Roast the squash for 20 minutes, or until tender.

While the squash is roasting, melt the butter in a skillet. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until a deep brown color, 10 to 15 minutes. Be careful not the burn the onion.

Stir in the sugar and balsamic vinegar and season with a bit of salt and pepper. Cook the onion for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350F.

Layer the tortilla chips on a 9×13-inch baking sheet. Evenly distribute the squash and onion over the chips. Cover the chips with the shredded cheese.

Bake the nachos for 10 to 15 minutes until the cheese has melted.

Serve the nachos with sour cream on the side.