Recipe First Impressions: Golden Beets with Fava Beans and Mint

We’ve been trying to cook more lately, partly to save money, and partly to just improve our skills. We make a lot of Asian staples at home – noodle soups, tamago gohan (egg rice), and fried rice being mainstays in our household. However, there are many ingredients and cuisines we’ve only seen at restaurants and have no experience working with in the kitchen. To push us out of our comfort zone ingredient-wise, we’ve signed up for a produce box, in the hopes that in the course to trying to use up these unfamiliar ingredients, we’ll add some new recipes to our repertoire.

The problem with trying new recipes is that we often don’t have the time or resources to follow them exactly. This may seem like blasphemy to some in the food world, but practically speaking, we’re all busy people, and not all ingredients are available everywhere. It’s hard to buy exactly enough of something for that specific recipe, and I don’t have the counter space for every single oil and spice. Meanwhile, that fresh basil from last week is wilting in my fridge and crying out to be used. So we will make substitutions. Lots and lots of substitutions.

Come along for the ride.

Golden Beets with Fava Beans and Mint

This recipe is from Vegetable Literacy, by Deborah Madison. It’s half cookbook and half vegetable encyclopedia. I love this book even when I’m not cooking from it, and I highly recommend it. I’d never cooked with fava beans or endives before, and had only cooked with beets a couple of times, though I love beet salads. I’d say my mood was wary but hopeful.

Shopping:

4-6 smallish golden beets or a mixture of golden and Chioggia beets
1-2 pounds of fava beans, in their pods
Slivered mint leaves plus a few whole ones, a heaping tablespoon
Sea salt
Ricotta salata, cut into thin shards
Freshly ground fresh pepper
1 shallot, finely diced
Grated zest of 1 Meyer lemon
1 ½ tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Red endive

We made three substitutions to this list. We decided our leftover Trader Joe’s black pepper toscano would do for the ricotta salata. We couldn’t find Meyer lemon, so just used a regular lemon. And for beets, we had a mix of golden and red beets.

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Cooking:

If you haven’t any steamed beets on hand, slice off the stems of the beets, leave on the tails, then steam them over simmering water until tender, about 25 minutes. Rinse briefly to cool, then slip off the skins and slice the beets into wedges. Toss them with a little vinaigrette which you’ll make while the beets are cooking.

For the vinaigrette: Put the shallot, lemon zest and juice, and ¼ teaspoon salt in a bowl. Let stand for 10 minutes, then whisk in the mustard and olive oil.

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The only steamer I own is this enormous tiered Chinese steamer. The beets fit easily on a single tier. 25 minutes may not quite have been enough, as the skins didn’t slide off as easily as I’d expected, but scraping them with a spoon was surprisingly effective.

The vinaigrette was both easy and delicious. It’s definitely a keeper. We made two substitutions to this. Instead of sea salt, we used freshly ground smoked salt, because, why not? Also, we discovered to our dismay that we didn’t have any extra virgin olive oil on hand, but we did have a mushroom sage olive oil that was gifted us from a friend. We used 3 tbsp of a regular olive oil and 2 tbsp of our sage olive oil, as we didn’t want to overpower the vinaigrette.

 

Shuck the fava beans. Drop them into boiling salted water for about a minute, then drain and drop them into a pan of cold water to cool. Pinch off the skins and moisten the beans with a little of the vinaigrette.

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Freshly shucked and dunked.

The fava beans were an adventure unto themselves. These things are labor intensive! I didn’t realize how few beans we would end up with after shucking, and only bought one pound of the things. Pinching off the skins after their hot water dunking took quite a while, and they mostly contributed texture to the dish, not flavor. However, beans are filling, and when cooking for two, it’s not usually worth the time to make more than one dish. This had to fill us up, and the beans definitely pulled their weight on that front.

Toss the beets with the favas and mint leaves. Taste for salt, and if dry, add a little more vinaigrette. Heap them onto a platter. Put the cheese in the bowl and toss it with the remaining vinaigrette and season with pepper and salt, tuck into the vegetables and serve.

With Fava Leaves: Should you have them, toss clean, dry fava leaves with the vinaigrette to moisten and add them to the plate as well. Slivered red endive would also be welcome here.

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Great for turning your hands, counter, and cutting board pink.

This recipe was a bit on the messy and time intensive side, but the pros definitely outweigh the cons. The dish is colorful, filling, and delicious. It’s healthy, and easily made vegan. However, we decided to pair it with some prosciutto that had been aging impatiently in our fridge. We give this recipe a big thumbs-up :).

Blog post written by Mengsha 

 

Golden Beets with Fava Beans and Mint

from Vegetable Literacy
By Deborah Madison

4-6 smallish golden beets or a mixture of golden and Chioggia beets
Meyer Lemon and Shallot Vinaigrette
1-2 pounds of fava beans, in their pods
Slivered mint leaves plus a few whole ones, a heaping tablespoon
Sea salt
Ricotta salata, cut into thin shards
Freshly ground fresh pepper

If you haven’t any steamed beets on hand, slice off the stems of the beets, leave on the tails, then steam them over simmering water until tender, about 25 minutes. Rinse briefly to cool, then slip off the skins and slice the beets into wedges. Toss them with a little vinaigrette which you’ll make while the beets are cooking.

Shuck the fava beans. Drop them into boiling salted water for about a minute, then drain and drop them into a pan of cold water to cool. Pinch off the skins and moisten the beans with a little of the vinaigrette.

Toss the beets with the favas and mint leaves. Taste for salt, and if dry, add a little more vinaigrette. Heap them onto a platter. Put the cheese in the bowl and toss it with the remaining vinaigrette and season with pepper and salt, tuck into the vegetables and serve.

With Fava Leaves: Should you have them, toss clean, dry fava leaves with the vinaigrette to moisten and add them to the plate as well. Slivered red endive would also be welcome here.

Meyer Lemon and Shallot Vinaigrette

1 shallot, finely diced
Grated zest of 1 Meyer lemon
1 ½ tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
Sea salt
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Put the shallot, lemon zest and juice, and ¼ teaspoon salt in a bowl. Let stand for 10 minutes, then whisk in the mustard and olive oil.

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