One day, at the farmers' market, I overheard a person asking for beets other than red beets, because their bleeding "is so annoying!" The remark surprised me, as I thought everybody liked the color of the red beet (barbabietola rossa), which makes, for example, a beautiful risotto. To keep bleeding to a minimum, I do not trim the beet before baking, but scrub it very carefully, then snip off the thin root, if present. Finally, I wrap the beet in foil. One day, recently, I prepared a couple of red beets for baking (at 375 F) while also planning to boil some potatoes to make purè di patate (mashed potatoes).
First, I decided to put each beet wrapped in foil in a crème brûlée mold, because a bit of juice usually manages to escape from the wrapping and I wanted to prevent it from spreading onto the baking sheet. Then, when I opened the foil packages of the baked beets and saw that there was a small quantity of beet juice at the bottom, I decided to add it to the potatoes, to which I had been adding some of their cooking water, my preferred liquid to thin them [which I learned to use from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone]. The result? A lovely pinkish side dish (contorno).
The final color depends on the amount and color of the potatoes and the amount of usable beet juice. For the two of us, I boiled an estimated 1.5 lb of potatoes (Kennebec variety), carefully scrubbed and unpeeled. After mashing them, I added a bit of olive oil, then some of their cooking water, the beet juice, and salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. At the end, I also added freshly grated cheese (Monterey Jack of my own production) and fresh erba cipollina (chives) from my small herb garden.
This is my contribution to edition #227 of Weekend Herb Blogging, an event started by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen, now administered by Haalo of Cook (Almost) Anything At Least Once and hosted this week by Haalo herself (who recently encountered and cooked pink-fleshed potatoes, a variety I have never seen).
On this page you will find the roundup of the event.
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the purè di patate rosato audio file [mp3].