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Beets in Lime Cream: 1987

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Beets in Lime Cream

- Amanda

Each week, over the next few weeks, I'll feature recipes from different eras that appear in The Essential New York Times Cookbook.

An excellent dish in every way.

Beets went through a significant culinary transformation in the mid 20th century, when cooks finally realized that boiling the hell out of them wasn’t doing anyone any good. The title of the accompanying article says it all: “Sweet Praise for Lowly Beets.”

1987: Beets in Lime Cream

Serves 6

Cooking Notes:

In Step 5, I added 4 teaspoons of lime juice.

The serving style is very 1980’s -- if you’d prefer a more modern spin, do away with the nests. Spread the greens on a serving platter and spoon the beets and sauce on top (see photo above).

  • 1 bunch beets, about 4 medium, with their greens, about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, minced, about 1 cup
  • Zest of 1 large lime, finely shredded, about 1 tablespoon
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Lime juice
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges, for garnish

1. Peel beets with a vegetable peeler, and cut them into large strips the size of French fries. There should be about 3 cups. Coarsely chop the greens and reserve.

2. Melt butter in a medium skillet, and saute onion over medium-high heat for about 15 minutes, or until it turns golden and browns around the edges. Lower heat to medium, stir in the lime zest and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes more, just until the zest toasts. (The pan will be very dry at this point but don’t worry, the beets will add moisture.)

3. Add beets, and cook, stirring occasionally, until they turn translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in cream, lower heat slightly, and cook 15 to 20 minutes more, or until beets are tender and cream has gently bubbled away to a thick sauce. Stir only often enough to prevent sticking and scorching. Do not overcook.

4. While beets cook, steam greens for about 15 minutes, or until tender. (Plan to have them ready when beets are.)

5. As soon as beets are tender, add lime juice in teaspoons and salt in pinches until seasoned to taste.

6. Heat a serving platter. To serve, arrange greens on platter, and using the back of a spoon form 6 little nests. Remove beets from sauce with a slotted spoon, and put into nests. Garnish the platter with lime wedges, and pass the sauce separately.


February 11, 1987: “Sweet Praise for Lowly Beets” by Leslie Land.


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