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.”
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). —Amanda Hesser
bunch beets, about 4 medium, with their greens, about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds
tablespoons unsalted butter
medium onion, minced, about 1 cup
Zest of 1 large lime, finely shredded, about 1 tablespoon
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.
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.)
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.
While beets cook, steam greens for about 15 minutes, or until tender. (Plan to have them ready when beets are.)
As soon as beets are tender, add lime juice in teaspoons and salt in pinches until seasoned to taste.
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.
Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.