Hello Rootabaga Subscribers,
Welcome to a red beet and cranberry inspired week of Rootabaga! As January comes to an end, it’s the time of year when winter produce selections ask us to get creative with our cooking in order to keep things interesting. With that in mind, I tried something new with my beets this week and used them in a pasta dish! I also tried a new-to-me recipe for Acadian Cranberry Pudding and it was delicious. Your produce subscriptions this week have the key ingredients for both dishes. In the small produce share we have:
Red Beets – Elmridge Farm, spray-free
Leeks – Elmridge Farm, spray-free
Rainbow Carrots – Elmridge Farm, spray-free
Bramble Hill Microgreens – Bramble HIll Farm, conventionally-grown
Hot House Tomatoes – Den Haan Greenhouses, conventionally-grown
Sweet Potatoes – Elmridge Farm, spray-free
Cranberries – Indian Garden Farm, conventionally-grown
The large produce share has everything above, as well as:
3 pounds of Yukon Potatoes – Elmridge Farm, spray-free
2 pounds of Ambrosia Apples – Noggins Corner Farm, conventionally-grown
½ pound more Cranberries – Indian Garden Farm, conventionally-grown
A full bunch of Leeks instead of half a bunch
Beets are so often paired with feta or goat cheese and walnuts, and with good reason! Earthy beets are complimented so well by the nutty crunch of walnuts and salty bite of feta cheese. Inspired by that classic combination, I decided to make pasta. It was pretty simple and it turned out quite well! I also found an Acadian Cranberry pudding recipe in the Pantry and Palate Cookbook by Simon Thibault (which we conveniently carry in store!) It’s a beautiful recipe collection of classic Acadian dishes, and as the author is a journalist, there’s neat Acadian history sprinkled throughout as well. I’ll share the Pink Feta Linguine recipe first, then the Cranberry Pudding Recipe for dessert.
- 1 leek, halved lengthwise and cut into thin slices (only the white and light green parts, I save any dark green ends for homemade vegetable broth)
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- Olive oil
- 1lb of red beets (⅓ of the bag of beets)
- ½ cup of walnuts, toasted and chopped into pieces
- Ran-Cher Acres Goat Feta, to taste
- Half a lemon, sliced into wedges
- Linguine or spaghetti
- Salt and Pepper
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Prepare the beets by washing them, trimming the ends, and peeling off the skin. Chop the beets into 1cm size cubes. Boil the beets until they are about halfway cooked, around 20 minutes.
- While the beets are boiling, roast the walnuts. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the walnuts on a baking sheet and roast them for 5-10 minutes, until fragrant. Once cool enough to touch, roughly chop them into small pieces. Set aside for garnishing at the end.
- Once the beets are halfway cooked, use a slotted spoon to remove them from the water (Save the beet water for cooking your pasta!) Place them on a baking sheet (the same one used for walnuts is fine). Toss them in a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast the beets at 375 degrees until tender, about 20 minutes.
- As your beets are cooking, prepare the pasta accompaniments. Bring a large frying pan with olive oil or butter to medium heat. Once hot add the leeks, saute a couple minutes until softening. Add the garlic and some salt and pepper.
- Meanwhile, bring the beet water back up to a boil. I used the leftover beet water for two reasons. First, to reuse the flavour and nutrients left behind from boiling the beets. Second, to turn the pasta a pretty pink colour! Once boiling, add your pasta and cook to package directions. When finished, drain the pasta, reserving ⅓ cup or so of the pasta water.
- Once the pasta and beets are finished cooking, add the pasta and the ⅓ cup of pasta water to the frying pan with the leek and garlic. Continuing on low-medium heat, add the roasted beets and walnuts. Use tongs to simmer everything together for a minute or two until the pasta water has thickened and the flavours have melded together. Serve the pasta on plates with crumbled feta, microgreens, and a lemon wedge.
That’s it! Aside from the bit of prep time for the beets, the rest of the meal comes together easily. It’s a simple dish, and the feta and lemon juice squeezed at the end really brightens up the sweet earthy beets. A time saving tip is to cook all 3lbs of your beets for this meal. Whatever you don’t use in your pasta is ready to throw into a salad, eat as a side dish, or throw in a stir-fry later in the week.
Next up, the Cranberry Pudding Recipe:
2 cups of flour
1 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ tablespoon salt
½ cup butter or lard
1 cup milk or buttermilk
1 ½ cups cranberries
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg, or allspice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest (optional; arguably non-traditional but very tasty nonetheless)
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, grease and line a cake dish with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the lard/butter and mix briefly using a pastry cutter or the paddle attachment on your standing mixer. Add ginger and lemon zest and mix until the fat is about the size of peas.
- Add the eggs and mix until well incorporated, making sure to wipe down the sides of the bowl. Add the milk, and mix well until the liquid is fully incorporated.
- Add the batter to your pan. You want it to be about 1 inch thick and spread evenly. Gently tuck cranberries into the batter.
- Blend the cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar. Dust over the batter and place into the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Serve with whipped cream.
I love the tart flavour that cranberries bring to baked goods. Cranberry muffins and cranberry pancakes are on the regular rotation at our house, but it’s great to have an easy dessert recipe on hand that uses often available local ingredients.
For a new way to eat your sweet potatoes (or if you’ve still got kale in your fridge from last week), I highly recommend trying them in a Thai inspired curry! This recipe: https://minimalistbaker.com/kale-sweet-potato-curry/comment-page-1/#wprm-recipe-container-35191 for Kale & Sweet Potato Curry is a great starting point. It’s tasty as is, and simple to make as it uses store bought red curry paste. However, it can easily be adapted to whatever vegetables you have on hand that need eating up. Last week I tried this curry with diced watermelon radish. I was curious how they would taste in a curry and they cooked up really well in it!
It is such a treat to have fresh local microgreens in the winter (thank you Bramble Hill Farm!) They remind us that even though it’s cold and grey, some things are indeed still growing. I like to throw these on everything. They’re great as a curry topper, like on the one above. They make a tasty light lunch with a slice of toast spread with hummus, sliced tomato, microgreens, and salt and pepper. I’ll be saving some for burgers this week too, as they’re a great local substitute for the lettuce that’s hard to come by this time of year.
Lastly, there’s always room on the menu for a roasted vegetable smorgasbord. We often make this on Saturday night before I pick-up our next produce share. Simply dig through your crisper drawers for leftover veggie bits. Think half an old but still good turnip, 3 neglected beets, the last of the rainbow carrots, potato, onion, or the end of a green cabbage you never seem to finish. Cut everything into bite sized pieces (if something takes longer to cook, like beets or turnips I like to cut them smaller than the other items to help them cook evenly). Throw everything into a glass casserole dish, drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. I like to add a package of diced extra firm Acadiana Tofu to our mix to make this a one pot meal. You could also serve it alongside your favourite Cogmagun chicken dish (we just got re-stocked) or Snowy River woods raised pork. Cover the casserole dish with aluminum foil and bake for an hour or so at 375 degrees, more or less time depending on the vegetables you chose. I like to make a tahini dressing to serve with it, something similar to the sauce we use on the Buddha Bowl at Uprooted, like this recipe found here: https://cookieandkate.com/creamy-tahini-dressing-recipe/#tasty-recipes-31100-jump-target Though the simple roasted veggies pack plenty of flavour on their own
I hope these suggestions are helpful in getting you thinking about new ways to use your vegetable shares this week. Selections do get a bit more repetitive through the winter months, but we are so lucky to have access to quality local produce all year long! And the repetition can be a great impetus to get creative with our meals, which I appreciate too.
Take care folks and see you next week,