Any way in which I attempt to open this post will pale beside the words of Tom Robbins as he opens his book Jitterbug perfume, so I am going to allow him to lead us out:
“The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.
Slavic peoples get their physical characteristics from potatoes, their smoldering inquietude from radishes, their seriousness from beets.
The beet is the melancholy vegetable, the one most willing to suffer. You can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip…
The beet is the murderer returned to the scene of the crime. The beet is what happens when the cherry finishes with the carrot. The beet is the ancient ancestor of the autumn moon, bearded, buried, all but fossilized; the dark green sails of the grounded moon-boat stitched with veins of primordial plasma; the kite string that once connected the moon to the Earth now a muddy whisker drilling desperately for rubies.
The beet was Rasputin’s favorite vegetable. You could see it in his eyes.”
Can anyone read that quote without feeling at least a twinge of desire to run out to the store and purchase an armload of those most intense of vegetables? I certainly can’t. However, in spite of my abstract love for beets and what they have come to stand for in my mind, I can’t honestly say that I love the way they taste.
Beets are beautiful and inspire in me a deep-seated lust and fervor, but to me they taste a bit too much like dirt to want them on my daily menu. My garden is currently overflowing with voluptuous beets screaming to be eaten, but my preferred dinner guest suffers from the same ambivalence to the flavor. So, this is what I came up with to sneakily get us to stuff our gullets with those most vibrant of roots.
Roasted Beet Bruschetta
3 beets (I used chiogga, but any would do)
4 oz. soft goat cheese
4 oz. cream cheese
2-3 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
¼ red onion, finely chopped
1-2 large cloves garlic
1 tbsp Balsamic
Salt + Pepper
Begin by peeling and dicing the beets. Toss them in olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast at 450 degrees until they begin to brown (some of the smaller pieces will look a touch burned–this is good). When they reach this state, remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Once you’ve pulled the beets you can make your crostini. Slice the baguette thin and drizzle or brush with olive oil. Place these in a single layer on a baking tray and put in the oven until they are crunchy. Once removed from the oven and properly cooled, slice a large clove of garlic in half and rub each of the crostini with the raw garlic.
When the beets have cooled, add 1-2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp balsamic, the red onion, and the basil. Mix this up and put it in the fridge for a while. It will be delicious fresh, but will only improve with a couple hours to marinate.
As serving time approaches, mix the goat cheese and cream cheese. This would be delicious with just goat cheese as well, but the cream cheese makes it slightly milder and more spreadable. When the cheeses are well combined, smear a good gob on each crostini and top with a spoonful of the bruschetta.
Best eaten with a gin cocktail or three. A pitcher of negronis would do the trick.