Do you grow beets? Do you like beets? Are you not a flag-waving fan of beets but still think they’re just OK, like Old Navy or the Golden State Warriors? If any of the aforementioned apply to you, you must drop everything right now and make this. (Unless you, like me, meal plan weeks in advance. In which case, add it to the queue as soon as possible.) Because aside from their discovery, this is the greatest thing that has ever happened in the history of beets. B. and I both were in the non-flag-waving camp, and we could’ve eaten two 9×13 dishes’ worth of this stuff, which consists of little more than caramelized beets, their greens sautéed in garlic and olive oil, goat cheese, bread crumbs and some herbs.
The recipe, adapted from Faith Durand’s “Not Your Mother’s Casseroles”—aside from not being a casserole—claims to make 8 servings. This is laughable. It’s barely 4, probably even closer to 2, but the beets were so expensive we had to keep it at 4.
-Mandoline (preferable) or a food processor with thin slicing disc
• 3 lbs. red beets, washed, leaves attached (our garden ones are all gone; we had to buy them): $5.16
• 4 oz. goat cheese: $2.50
• 2 garlic cloves, minced: 2 cents
• 1 cup bread crumbs, toasted: 5 cents
• Zest from 1 lemon: 28 cents
• Leaves from 4 sprigs thyme (garden): $0
• 1/2 cup whole milk: 8 cents
• 2 T olive oil: 12 cents
• Salt and pepper: 2 cents
TOTAL: $8.15/4 = $2.03/serving
Combine the bread crumbs with the lemon zest, thyme, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Set aside.
Cut the leafy greens off the top of the beets, set aside. Peel the beets.
Cut the stems off the leaves, chiffonade the leaves (layer a few leaves on top of each other, roll them up into a cigar shape, and thinly slice cross-wise in thin ribbons; repeat).
Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease a 13×9 baking dish with olive oil.
Slice the beets to an even 1/8-inch thickness with a mandonline (ideal) or in a food processor with the thin slicing disc (you may have to cut a few of the beets in half to fit them in the chute).
Heat a large (12 inch) skillet over medium heat. Heat the oil, add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add the leaves and a generous pinch of salt, and sauté until wilted, about 6-7 minutes.
Take half the beet slices and layer them in the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
Spread half the greens over the top. (Lift them out of the skillet with tongs if there’s excess liquid.)
Sprinkle half the goat cheese over the top of the greens.
Repeat with the remaining beet slices, greens, and goat cheese.
Pour the milk evenly over the beet-green-cheese mixture.
Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees, until beets are tender and bread crumb topping is golden and crisp.