It’s official. Autumn has arrived. As the hours from sunrise to sunset are divided equally between day and night,l I find myself unwilling to accept the changing of the seasons. Holding on to summer’s bounty for a little while longer, loads of late harvest fruits and vegetables from the farmers market are making their way into my kitchen. Chutneys simmer on the stove and homemade tomato sauce is simultaneously in the making with no time to spare. It’s a rush holding on to the last days of summer, especially because I know stopping September in its tracks is simply impossible.
I cook according to the seasons. At the moment an abundance of blueberries, blackberries and voluptuous purple figs are prevalent in the pantry. Colorful root vegetables have appeared on the scene and all of a sudden crimson orange, burgundy red and candy-striped beets are vegetable favorites (if not an obsession). This rainbow of colors is slowly but surely replacing the incomparable tomato.
Just as autumn replaces summer every year, my attention is drawn to the warmth of the oven — the kitchen tool that pairs so well with cold(er) evenings and predominantly grey clouds. Since cooking is not just a skill but also my creative form of expression I channel my thoughts to cooking experiments. At the moment I have a renewed interest in France, in reclaimed recipes and in Bourgogne — the home of Dijon mustard, Pinot Noir and the rustic beef and wine stew “Boeuf Bourguignon”.
The color red inspired me to replace meat with beets in the more than one-hundred year old description of this regional dish by world-renowned Auguste Escoffier. After preparing the original recipe, I made a few changes in style of preparation and came to the conclusion that beets and wine are at least as satisfying as beef and wine. Enjoy this rustic dish where color and taste come together and the beet meets the tomato in a casserole dish.
- 500 grams red beets
- 500 gram yellow beets (or a mixture of the multi-colored beets available to you)
- 250 grams or three rainbow carrots . either traditionally orange or dark purple 250 gram or three small red onions
- 250 grams or three small red onions
- three to four cloves of garlic
- 75 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 400 ml red wine
- 400 ml crushed tomatoes
- a bouquet garni of four sprigs of fresh thyme. four bay leaves and eight sprigs of flat leaf parsley
- 250 gram shiitake or chestnut mushrooms
- 25 grams organic unsalted butter (or an equal amount of coconut oil)
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees. Peel onions and garlic and slice both paper thin. Wash the carrots well without peeling them and cut them into nice thick coins. Scrub the beets well and place them whole in a casserole dish along with the carrots. Drizzle the beets with a bit of olive oil and roast thirty minutes in the oven, or until the beets are tender.
Meanwhile peel onions and garlic and slice both paper thin. Bind the fresh thyme, flat leaf parsley and bay leaf together with butchers twine. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and sauté the onions and garlic at medium-low heat for five minutes, stirring occasionally until the aroma of onions and garlic permeate the kitchen. Add the red wine and bring it to a simmer, followed by the crushed tomatoes. Cook the sauce at low heat. Drop in the bouquet garni turn off the heat.
Remove the beets from the oven and allow them to cool before peeling them and cutting them into wedges and returning them into the casserole dish. Pour over the tomato-wine sauce, cover the dish and return it to the oven to bake slowly for an hour or even two.
Sautee the shiitake (or chestnut) mushrooms in butter or olive oil until nicely browned. Stir the mushrooms into the richly stewed beets and sprinkle with fresh thyme and finely chopped flat leaf parsley.
Serve this autumn-summer dish with your favorite mash of potatoes – either sweet or traditional. The flavors are even better one day after baking. Use this wonderful mix of colors and textures as a filling for bread or pancakes.
In Europe candy beets are called Chioggia beets after the laguna of the same name just south of Venice. Chioggia has a beautiful harbor and is well worth the boat trip for a visit. In Venetian dialect these psychedelic purple-striped beets are called erbeterave. Chioggia is pronounced (Kee-oh-jee-uh) in Italian.