This is an old favorite in our house. I'll admit, I was no fan of beets as a kid. I think that's because the only ones we ate were from a can. My parents were always big on vegetable gardening, I just don't remember them ever growing beets. It's their loss, because fresh beets are just superior in every way. Doug is a big fan and his enthusiasm for them was infectious. Soon after meeting him, I was also hooked. Beets don't need a lot of help, which is why this recipe is pretty uncomplicated. Walnuts, balsamic, garlic and a cheesy, flaky crust are kept in a supporting role. The beets are the star, which is as it should be.
Don't throw out those greens! Beet greens are among the most healthy, nutritious leafy greens you can eat, and they're really simple to prepare. This is one of those great opportunities to get a full meal out of all the parts of a vegetable.
1 pound beets
1garlic bulb, top cut off
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 stick Earth Balance, cut into small cubes and kept cold
4-6 tbsp ice water
Cut the stems and greens from the beets. Wash and dry the beets, then place them on a sheet of foil alongside the garlic. Drizzle both with olive oil and wrap them in the foil. Place the foil packet on a sheet pan and roast them in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour.
Put the flour, salt, pepper and nutritional yeast into a food processor. Add the Earth Balance cubes and pulse 4-5 times until they're the size of peas.
Turn the food processor on and add the water, letting the machine run just until it comes together. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and shape it into a mound. Wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge until you're ready to use it.
Meanwhile, pour the balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan and reduce it over medium heat, until it's about 1/3 of what it was. Set it aside once it's done.
Take the dough out of the fridge and cut it into four equal wedges, like this:
On a floured surface, flatten each piece of dough into discs around 6 inches in diameter. You can do this with a rolling pin, but since these are supposed to be rustic, I just do it with my knuckles. Peel off a few pieces of the garlic and gently squeeze them. The garlic will be soft and spreadable. You can squeeze them out and spread them with a knife, or just spread it around as you squeeze. As long as you cover it evenly and leave a little bit of a border around the edges, you're fine.
Slice the beets to your desired thickness (I like mine kind of chunky) and arrange them on top of the garlic. Tuck in the walnuts, sprinkle on some salt and drizzle them each with the balsamic reduction. Turn the dough edges up. You can roll them down over themselves or keep them sticking up, whatever works for you.
Bake the tarts on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 20 minutes or so, until the crust is golden.
Meanwhile, wash, stem and slice your beet greens. In a medium-sized pot, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Drop in the greens and stir them around to coat them in the oil. Add plenty of salt and pepper, a clove of minced garlic and a teaspoon of lemon juice. You may think they're too big and leafy, but it's astonishing how much they cook down. Put the lid on the pot and let them cook for a couple more minutes. Stir them every 2 minutes or so. Once they're done, put the lid back on and remove them from the heat.
When the tarts are done, drizzle them with a little olive oil and let them rest a few minutes. Plate them up with the greens and serve.