Thursday, June 4, 2009

Jitterbug Perfume

The first thing harvested from my garden this year is a small but respectable bunch of beets. If, toward the end of winter, you’re ever cleaning out your fridge and come across a moldy old beet that would normally be tossed into the compost, try sticking it in the ground instead. You might just get a head of greens in a month or two. This photo was taken a few weeks before harvest. They were twice this size when I picked them.
Since reading Tom Robbin’s book “Jitterbug Perfume” in my early 20s, I’ve never looked at a bunch of beets without remembering that book, and it's rare for a beet green to cross my path without having it’s essence deeply inhaled. In the book, the beet figures prominently in a plot involving a quest for eternal life and the world’s most perfect perfume. I can’t say I’ve detected anything other than an appealing earthy aroma during my attempts to capture the magic by sniffing beets. They smell pretty good roasting in the oven, though.

"The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious." (Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume)"

This recipe is adapted from Rozanne Gold’s “Cooking 1-2-3.” Her 3-ingredient cookbooks are fabulous and you're sure to find a delicious easy way to make just about any vegetable by consulting this one. However, since she was limited to 3 ingredients and I especially love a little grated cheese on greens, I added fontanella cheese on top. Feta would be great too!

Remove greens from three medium-sized beets and wash them.

Trim the roots off the beets and put them in shallow pan in about half an inch of water and roast for about 1.5 hours or until tender. (Since it was such a small portion, I put them in the toaster oven. )

Meanwhile chop some garlic and grate some lemon zest and heat gently in olive oil. Remove the bits of garlic (the idea here is to have garlic flavored oil).

Cook the greens in boiling water for about 5 minutes or until tender, drain, toss with the olive oil and set aside.

When the beets are done cooking, peel and chop into 1 inch batons. Toss with the greens. Add cheese if you like. Have it for dinner when the rest of the family is having hot dogs.


Joanne said...

I can honestly say that I don't think I've ever eaten beets, though this dish you prepared looks sublime, looks like I'm missing out. I remember turning my nose up at beets as a child when they were served, and that was that! I like the line about frivolous tomatoes, though. An astute observation by the author.

Pam J. said...

I've eaten beets. Once or twice. Not a fan. In fact, thinking of eating beets makes my lip curl...a kind of aversion curl, if you know what I mean. But you make me want to try this recipe. Will report back. Probably next year since no beet has ever graced my garden. But what I'm definitely going to do is read "Jitterbug Perfume." I've been meaning to read one of his books for years and just never got around to it. (This could have been your J entry in the Tchotchke Challenge...)

Brigit said...

I love beetroot, especially roasted, but even raw, grated in a salad. I had no idea you could eat beetroot greens! I love Tom Robbins comment from Jitterbug Perfume. Wonderful.