Saturday Market Meals

It's 8:00 am, already nearly 80 degrees hot and a blanket of humidity looming in the air. The market is bustling and early morning walkers with headphones skip by trying to beat the pace of the heat. I, too, head to the market early, ready to pick out the best of this week's offerings for my Saturday Market Meal. One of my favorite vendors, Woodland Farms, is already one table short and sold out of just picked hothouse tomatoes. I get in line {yes, a line!} to see what is left. Beautiful bunches of easter egg-colored beets peer out from a tumble of greens sprouting from their heads. I stash not just one bunch, but two, into my market basket. Already, I have found my favorite Saturday Market Meal ingredient .

Wash the beets thoroughly and remove them from the greens. Don't toss out the greens! Remove the leafy tops of the beets, wash and keep refrigerated. I am going to make them an essential part of our meal tonight.

Beets can be cooked in all kinds of ways- boiled and pickled are some old-timely favorites. I have found the best way to enhance the earthy yet sweet flavor of beets, especially the golden and chioggia varieties, is to roast them whole in the oven.
Drizzled with a good extra virgin olive and sprinkled with a savory salt, it is as easy as it can get.

I found some young, tender spring green garlic , but I usually crush a few cloves in their skins and add that to the mix.

The beets are carefully peeled.

The foil roasting method creates a nice steam cooking, and makes clean-up easy as an added bonus.. This dish makes a great vegetarian lunch.

1 bunch beets { golden, chioggia or a variety of any locally grown beets} *NOTE: red beets will bleed into more delicate varieties.
Extra Virgin Olive OIl
Garlic cloves or fresh green garlic
1 Orange, zested and juiced
1 tsp. sherry vinegard
Salt & Pepper

Cook the beets for about 45 minutes to one hour in a 350 degree oven, until the beets are easily pierced with a sharp knife. Remove from the oven and let cool enough to touch. Peel the beets and disgard the skins. Keep the short green stems intact, if possible. They add a delicious dimension of flavor and are perfectly edible. Cut the beets into halves just before serving.

Cut the beet greens into large strips. Wash clean and dry thoroughly. Heat 2 Tablespoons of oil in a saute pan and cook greens over medium heat just until wilted. Add a Tablespoon of orange juice, the orange zest , a splash of sherry vinegar to taste.
Plate with halved beets. Drizzle with a good quality extra virgin olive oil.
This dish can also be served at room temperature, with fresh goat cheese and toasted walnuts.

Serves Two.

Buon appetito!
copyright 2008 Alisa Barry

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