Of course beets grow upward but they’re rooted. They’re beautiful and bright, and covered in dirt beneath the earth. We just got a big lovely bunch from the farm, with the greens attached, and I wanted to use every part. So I made a curry with the leaves, in a sauce of cashew and pumpkin purée. And I grated and roasted the beets themselves, and mixed them with chickpea flour and spices to make kofta. If you don’t have beet greens, this curry would work equally well with spinach, chard, kale, or any other kind of green you have!
Here’s Linton Kwesi Johnson with Age of Reality, which, upon reflection, doesn’t have much to do with anything, but I like it.
1 large bunch beet greens (about 2 cups cooked) washed and de-veined
2 T olive oil
1 shallot – finely chopped
2 cloves garlic – minced
1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 t red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 t cumin
1 t smoked paprika
1/2 t fenugreek
1/2 t ginger
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t allspice
3 medium-sized tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup pumpkin purée
salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper
juice of half a lemon
Set a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the beet greens and boil till quite soft – about ten minutes. Drain, cool, and chop very finely.
Meanwhile, in a large frying pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the shallot and cook for about a minute. Add the garlic, cook till it just starts to brown. Add the black beans and red pepper flakes. Stir and fry for about a minute. Add the beet greens and tomatoes, stir and fry for about a minute.
In a blender or food processor combine the cashews, pumpkin puree and about 1 1/2 cups water. Puree until smooth.
Add the spices to the pan, and within a minute (so the spices don’t burn) add the pumpkin cashew mixture. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, till the tomatoes are a bit soft and everything is cooked through. Stir in the butter and lemon, season well with salt and pepper, and serve with …
ROASTED BEET KOFTA
4 small beets, peeled and finely grated
1 T olive oil
1 cup chickpea flour
1 t cumin
1 t dried basil
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 cup warm water
plenty of black pepper
If you don’t have a toaster oven, preheat the oven to 425. Combine the beets with the olive oil and spread in a single layer on a small baking sheet. Toast or roast for ten to fifteen minutes, until they start to darken and smell like burnt sugar
In a large bowl, combine the chickpea flour, spices, herbs, baking soda, salt and black pepper. Stir in the water. You should have a thick batter. Stir in the roasted beets. Leave to sit for about fifteen minutes.
Lightly oil a large baking sheet. Drop the batter by teaspoonfuls onto the sheet. Bake about 20 minutes, till starting to brown. Turn once or twice so that they brown nicely on both sides.