Forget the syrup, have some Beet Pancakes

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I haven’t been able to cook much lately because of my hectic travel schedule and missed the farmers market completely last week. Luckily, I had bought beets the week before and they kept, so I made this recipe from my friend Ana.

After hearing me recount my beet risotto experience, Ana encouraged me to try this version of beets before I gave up on them. Ana, of course, was right. These beet pancakes, similar to potato pancakes in style, were delicious, particularly when served over gently sauteed greens – like the beet greens or spinach.

Ana noted a few details when she sent me the link to the recipe:

“Now that I looked it up it seems that I’ve actually changed it a bit. My amounts are not exact since it depends on the size of the bunch of beets. I don’t usually use the rosemary – but like it when I do. Cook the beets briefly to loosen the skins. (I lose less beet this way and I hate peeling vegetables). Cool by plunging in ice water and remove the skins by rubbing them off. Grate.

I make small beet cakes by mixing the grated beets with a touch of salt, the flour and the grated beets and a tiny bit of corn starch if they are too moist. I just pan fry until they are crisp on one side and flip with a spatula.

I stem the leaves, fry a clove of garlic in a tablespoon or so of olive oil, some shallots if I have them, and add the greens, stirring until they are limp but not mushy. I add a little goat cheese or cream cheese if I have it and serve over the beet cakes.”

I followed Ana’s advice and made smaller beet cakes instead of one massive one. Unlike Ana, I didn’t cook the beets first and since I don’t have a food processor right now, I grated them. It wasn’t that messy, but make sure you leave a couple of inches of stem on the beet so you have something to hold on to while your grating. I did use the rosemary and liked it.

I served it with some broiled Salmon, quinoa and sauteed spinach (my beet greens had wilted.) It was a great, healthy meal.

Beet Roesti with Rosemary
From NPR and a story about chef Mark Bittman
Makes 4 servings
Time: 20 minutes

An almost unbelievably sweet and wonderful side dish. The sugar in the beets caramelizes, and the flavors of the rosemary, beets, and butter meld beautifully. With thanks to Michael Romano, the brilliant chef at New York’s Union Square Cafe, who shared this recipe with me almost 10 years ago.

· 1 to 1 1/2 pounds beets

· 1 teaspoon coarsely chopped fresh rosemary

· 1 teaspoon salt

· 1/4 cup flour

· 2 tablespoons butter

1. Trim the beets and peel them as you would potatoes; grate them in a food processor or by hand. Begin preheating a medium to large non-stick skillet over medium heat.

2. Toss the grated beets in a bowl with the rosemary and salt, then add about half the flour; toss well, add the rest of the flour, then toss again.

3. Place the butter in the skillet and heat until it begins to turn nut-brown. Scrape the beet mixture into the skillet, shape it into a nice circle, and press it down with a spatula. Turn the heat to medium-high and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until the bottom of the beet cake is nicely crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Slide the cake out onto a plate, top with another plate, invert the two plates, and slide the cake back into the pan. Continue to cook, adjusting the heat if necessary, until the second side is browned. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.

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