Friday, September 24, 2010

A tale that begins with a beet.....

So after acquiring beets from my farmer friend this summer I have become slightly obsessed with learning how to cook with them. My first dish with beets was Aloo Koora, an Indian curry with beets and potatoes (I will post this at some point in the future). But now, as fall steadily approaches, I have been searching for hearty fall-spiced dishes that help stave off the melancholy end of summer and imminent approach of winter. For some reason, this has manifested itself in a slight fascination with eastern European dishes. So tonight I am going to make a vegetarian version of Ukrainsky Borshch, a Ukrainian beet and cabbage stew. Below you will find the recipe I have concocted.

We will approach this with caution, however, because as they say: "a tale that begins with a beet will end with the devil" (and I suppose we could do without devils for dinner).

(Recipe adapted from:

3 cups vegetable broth
2 large potatoes or 4 small potatoes of your choice cut up into large chunks (you can peel them if you want, I prefer skins-on potatoes).
1 large tomato or 2 small tomatoes diced
1/4 cup oil (canola, vegetable or olive)
1/2 cup of diced onion
1-2 carrots diced
1 can of sauerkraut or 1/4 head of cabbage diced                
3-4 beets roasted (directions below) and diced
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup of raisins or 3-4 pitted prunes
3 tbspns of tomato paste
1 tsp sugar or brown sugar
black pepper
1-2 cloves diced garlic
parsley/dill/basil (spices of choice)
2-3 teaspoons liquid smoke

Roasting beets:
prepare beets ahead of time by washing and slicing them, placing them in a baking dish lined with aluminum foil, brush them with oil and herbs (I use olive oil with onion powder, sage, basil leaves, salt and black pepper, and a little brown sugar), cover the beets with the foil, and bake at 350 degrees until they can be easily pierced with a fork (approximately 1- 1 1/2 hours)

1. Bring vegetable broth/stock to a boil over high heat. Add potatoes and tomatoes, season to taste with salt, add liquid smoke, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until potatoes are just soft, about 15 minutes.
 2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and carrots, and cook, stirring often, until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add cabbage/sauerkraut and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until cabbage wilts, 6–8 minutes.
3. Add vegetable mixture, beets, and lemon juice to stock in pot and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add raisins/prunes, tomato paste, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste and continue to simmer until prunes soften and begin to dissolve, about 10 minutes more.
4.  Remove pot from heat, add garlic, parsley, and dill, (possibly more liquid smoke if you prefer) then set soup aside to rest for 15 minutes. Adjust seasonings. Serve with sour cream on side.

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