I’m a lover of root vegtables. They are so versatile! Braised, boiled, roasted and raw; root vegtables are a staple food in my kitchen. Some of my favorites are carrots, radishes and beets. Radishes are often eaten raw or in a salad. My mother-in-law would make radishes in a style called “salsa imperiale” sliced, salted and drizzled with EVOO. Beets were usually boiled and sliced into a salad with some onion, olive oil and vinegar. However when you roast these vegtables they transform, becoming sweet and delectable. So it’s no wonder that I purchased some root veggies from Formisano Farms on Saturday at the Collingswood farmer’s market. Beautiful fresh Jersey beets, radishes and to my delight Jersey fresh broccoli rabe! Check out my blog post “Rabe!”
On to the beets and the radishes. Heat your oven to 375 degrees. For beets remove the tops and trim off the root. Save the tops, they are delicious sautéed in olive oil with garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes. You do not have to peel the beets, the skins with come off easily after they are roasted. Place the washed beets on a sheet of foil large enough to make a package. Drizzle the beets with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper and add a whole unpeeled clove of garlic. Wrap them up, place on a baking sheet and roast for about 45 minutes. When a knife slides in easily they are done. Cool slightly and then peel off the skin. I like to quarter them sprinkle on some Italian seasoning, salt and finish with some EVOO. Do the same for the radishes, saving the tops to make a delicious peppery pesto. I like to roast the radishes with a piece of onion. They will take about 30 minutes and half way through the roasting process open up the foil. It will finish them nicely.
For beet tops remove the stalk right were the leaf begins. The stalks can be tough. Wash well; New Jersey produce can be very sandy. Heat a sauté pan with EVOO, add minced garlic and cook about 2-3 minutes. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes and the washed beet tops. Salt and then toss the tops with the oil and garlic. Reduce heat and cook about 5 minute or until tender. Grab a piece of crusty Italian bread from Villa Barone and enjoy!
For the radish tops wash well; their from Jersey! Toast about 2 tablespoons of pine nuts or almonds. I prefer them to walnuts because walnuts tend to be bitter. Place the radishes tops in a mini food processor along with the nuts, 1 clove of garlic, a pinch of red pepper flakes, 2-3 tablespoon pecorino cheese and about 2 tablespoons of EVOO along with a teaspoon of lemon juice. Pluse until smooth. Add more EVOO if too thick and salt if needed. This is a great pesto for pasta!