Stir Crazy: Learning to like beets, plus Mexican dip, dinner

News-DemocratDecember 30, 2013 

Over the past few years I've learned to enjoy beets. For most of my life, they were the bloody-purple slices that came out of a can that sent me scrambling from my seat at the table.

When fresh red and golden beets started popping up in salads and other dishes at restaurants, I decided to give them a second chance. They were so amazing that I couldn't believe I'd turned them away. Now, I've eaten beets in a variety of ways. But, I admit, I have yet to prepare them at home. This recipe has changed my mind. It's from Washington Post food writer Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.

I'm going to follow her strategies for cooking beets: Cut them into bite-size pieces, which makes them easy to glaze in a pan on the stove top, she says. And use golden beets instead of red ones, which avoids the usual mess with beet juice.

And in the store, look for baby beets, she said, which are great for this recipe because you can cut them into attractive wedge-shaped pieces. But any size beet will do, and, if you prefer, red beets can be used.

Glazed Golden Beets With Cranberries

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/3 cup finely diced onion

Kosher salt

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped dried, sweetened cranberries (about 2 1/2 ounces)

Finely grated zest of 1 medium orange

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 cup homemade or no-salt-added chicken broth

1 pound peeled, trimmed golden beets, cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch chunks

Water (optional)

Melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and a small pinch of salt and stir to coat; cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes, until the onion is soft.

Add 1/2 cup of the chopped dried cranberries, the orange zest, brown sugar and broth, stirring to combine. Season lightly with salt.

Stir in the beets. Increase the heat to medium-high; once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium; cover and cook 20 to 25 minutes, or until the beets become tender, adjusting the temperature as needed to maintain gentle bubbling at the edges. If the broth starts to reduce to a glaze before the beets are tender, add water as needed so the beets can finish cooking.

Uncover; if the broth has not yet reduced to a glaze, increase the heat to medium-high so the liquid reduces.

Transfer the beets and their glaze to a serving dish. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of chopped cranberries. Serve right away.

Makes 4 to 6 servings (3 cups total), with each serving, based on six, with 100 calories, 2 grams protein, 20 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 110 mg sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber, 17 grams sugar.

Fast weeknight meal

Janet K. Keeler of the Tampa Bay Times makes creative use of rotisserie chicken: Chicken and Bean Burritos Verde starts with shredded rotisserie chicken mixed with a can of pinto or black beans, partly drained. Heat through and add green tomatillo or enchilada salsa. Roll in warmed tortillas and top with sour cream, shredded Jack cheese and chopped onions. Serve with yellow rice and fresh fruit.

Cookstr.com offers this last-minute New Year's Eve party recipe. These simple, quick-to-prepare toasts have rich flavor and are enhanced with a sprinkle of your favorite hot stuff. Save 25 calories of fat on average per tortilla or 6 calories per chip by baking instead of frying tortillas for dippers.

Increase the flavor by spritzing with water containing a hint of oil (you can do this with a spritzer you fill yourself). Add seasoning mixes if desired to enhance the flavor. Chile is always good with a sprinkle of fresh lime juice.

Tortilla Toasts with Salsa-Marinated Mexican Caviar

8 corn tortillas (6-inch size)

Dust of your choice, such as Southwest seasoning salt or rub, ground pure red or green chile, dry southwestern salad dressing, or dip mix

1 cup garbanzos, well-drained

1/2 cup salsa, any type

1/2 lime, juiced

2 tablespoons cilantro, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the tortillas on a cutting board and cut them into 4 or 6 pieces.

Arrange evenly on 1 large or 2 medium baking sheets.

Dip your fingertips into a small bowl of water and sprinkle the tortillas or spray with a mister. Bake 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and lightly sprinkle with whatever seasoning you wish, or shake the pieces in a bag containing the seasoning. These chips are best served warm. Freeze any remaining for reheating and serving later.

Meanwhile, prepare the caviar(*29*) by combining the garbanzos with the salsa and lime juice. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Stir in most of the cilantro, reserving some for garnish. Serve in a bowl on a platter with the Tortilla Toasts encircling the bowl. Top the caviar (*29*) with the reserved cilantro.

Makes 8 servings, each with 95 calories, 19 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 1 gram fat, 4 grams protein, 134 mg sodium.

Here's how to reach me: Phone, 239-2664; e-mail, sboyle@bnd.com; or write, Suzanne Boyle, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427.

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