Growing up I was never very fond of beets. From what I recall, we didn’t really eat them much at home. I remember seeing beets frequently as part of the expansive salad bars found in chain restaurants like the Sizzler. Mostly devoid of flavor, these beets were invariably served straight out of can and weren’t anything to get excited about.
But over the years I’ve grown to love beets and they are a versatile ingredient. They can be oven roasted, make a great addition to salads, pair well with cheese, can be pickled and are even great raw. You can even use them to make soup; borscht a Russian dish, is probably one of the most well known beet dishes.
The most common variety of beets found in super markets is a ruby red color and tend to have a more pronounced earthy flavor. My favorite variety is the chioggia beet which is delicious, slightly sweeter, and has an eye-catching red-and-white-striped candy cane appearance.
You might have read the title and thought I misspelled beet, intending to spell beef. Changing one letter certainly makes a big difference! When I was planning for this week’s post, I was trying to make a common meat dish and transform it in a vegetarian version. Traditional french beef or steak tartare is made with capers, mustard, and cornichon along with other ingredients for seasoning. These ingredients pair well with beets too, so substituting beets for beef seemed like an obvious choice. A raw broken egg yolk is often served atop classic tartare and acts somewhat like a sauce for the meat. I didn’t want to use egg but still wanted something with natural fat to add richness and balance so avocado was an obvious choice. The result is a delicious vegetarian appetizer.
BEET TARTARE WITH AVOCADO CREAM
- 1 small ripe avocado
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 tablespoon creme fraiche or heavy cream
- 2 cups roasted beets cut into 1/4 inch cubes (about one bunch)
- 1 tablespoon meyer lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped capers
- 1 tablespoon minced chives
- 2 teaspoons minced cornichons
- 1 teaspoon minced meyer lemon rind
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Combine the ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth. Season with salt.
- Add all the ingredients to a bowl and mix with a spoon until combined. Use something round such as an egg or pancake mold and place it on a plate. Fill the mold with beet mixture and press down with a spoon to pack the beets. Lift the ring mold. Repeat this for a total of four servings.
- Spoon a tablespoon of the avocado cream atop the beets. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil around the beets. If you have any left over chives or capers you can add these as a garnish.
Make the beet portion in advance, but the avocado cream should be made shortly prior to serving to avoiding discoloration.