Thursday, February 23, 2012

Beet Tart with Beet Green Pesto

Beets. Growing up, one of my least favorite foods. I learned later in life that this was nothing to do with beets and everything to do with the can they came in at my house. Not delicious.

What I found recently is that the fresh ones are not only delicious and pretty versatile, but they are two vegetables in one. I've been reading and thinking a lot lately about food waste and am trying to make a conscious effort to waste as little as possible. We are buying less, recycling more, and my personal favorite...pureeing the leftovers and putting them in the freezer for Little Gurgly. It's working pretty well so far, but the frilly greens at the top of the beets are a revelation. They taste like a cross between beet roots and Swiss chard. I sautéed some, and they were delicious, but I had something else a bit more creative in mind for the rest.

I've been trying to work through one of the contents of our freezer and found A LOT of nuts. Walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, hazelnuts, pecans. Pistachios (those won't end up anywhere but in my belly straight from the shell). A friend suggested I make pesto, so I worked on a few different versions. Different veg, different nuts, different uses. I've got three variations in the fridge, and I plan to share thm all.

Today's is a beet green pesto.

Greens from the top of one bunch of beets, triple washed and spun in a salad spinner if you have one
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
Olive oil (I used just a tablespoon, but can adjust for taste and consistency)

The first three ingredients go into the food processor. Begin pulsing. The greens will grind down fairly quickly. Once the greens are reduced most of the way, begin streaming in the olive oil until desired consistency is reached. Taste, and adjust seasoning. I found it to be salty enough and "bright"enough not to need any salt or acid added.

I used this pesto as the base of a phyllo crusted beet and goat cheese tart.

8 sheets frozen phyllo pastry, thawed overnight in fridge
Olive or vegetable oil, melted butter, or cooking spray (I used olive oil cooking spray to lower fat)
2 large beets, steamed or roasted until cooked through and sliced ~1/4 inch thick
4 oz. goat cheese
1/2 of the beet green pesto recipe above

Layer phyllo pastry sheets, one at a time, into pie/tart pan. Brush or spray oil between each layer. I did this by laying two perpendicular to each other, then turned the pan slightly and did the same, repeating four times.

Once the pastry is down, spread the prepared beet green pesto onto the bottom of the crust. Layer the beets on top of the pesto, working in concentric circles. Break up goat cheese into small crumbles over the top of the beets. Bake at 350 degrees F until phyllo hanging over the sides is golden brown, about 20 minutes.

The flavors of this recipe work really well together. The beet greens make a slightly salty and slightly bitter pesto, which provides a good counterpoint to the somewhat sweet beets, and tangy goat cheese.

Another assembly option which would also be great would be to start by spreading the goat cheese on the bottom, topped with the sliced beets, and then drizzled with a wetter version of the pesto. If you feel there isn't enough pesto flavor, you could also try assembling according to original directions, then adding a bit more oil to the remaining half of the pesto recipe and drizzling that over the tart when serving. Any way this is assembled, it is delicious!

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