This is my ode to the beet. I love it. It is good steamed/boiled, but why stop there? Surely the humble, yet provocatively deep red-colored, beet has more to offer beyond the boundaries of salads, or worse, as a natural red food color. The result of an evening of inspiration and creativity was this Creamy Sweet Beet Pie with Hazelnut Crust. The yogurt syrup makes it even better. Oh my! Even the beet skeptic might be swayed to the beat of the beet!
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Like a northern snowbird, I headed south last week. To get used to the time, I had this not-so-great idea to tough it out on my first night: stay up, finish writing this, get some work done, and be early to bed the next evening to ‘reset’ my circardian rhythm. My thirty-something body, on the other hand, had other plans–like succumbing to exhaustion before midnight, not feeling my laptop slip from the bed and not hearing the heartbreaking sound of the machine hitting the hardwood floor. Nope. I had woken up in a daze at 3am, local time, and slowly realized that ACK! MY LAPTOP!!! Blood drained from my face when I saw it closed, but monitor at the bottom. #$&(*&%! I leaped from the bed to assess the damage, praying that the screen didn’t $hatter into piece$. Thankfully, everything was still intact except for the corner dent, and most importantly: it still worked! Whew. After that, I couldn’t bring myself to push my luck in the staying-up-too-late-to-post department for the rest of the week.
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Beets, we meet again. You and your unpretentious exterior.
Your unassuming presence change once peeled and cut, and you resemble rubies or garnets.
Just looking at you make me smile. Jewels, you are.
Oh, god, I talk to vegetables. Secret’s out!
Well, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go back to being sane.
Enamored is an understatement as to how I feel about beets. I wanted to do something more than roasting and boiling them for salads. When I got more beets, I had PIE in my mind, thanks to the apple pie and pumpkin pie I had in rotation in the kitchen, so pie it is.
For the crust, I wasn’t feeling the flaky dough crust, so I decided on a graham cracker crust. Well, well, guess who ran out of graham crackers (or crumbs)? Haha. I still had whole hazelnuts, so I ground them into powder consistency and added wheat germ and butter.
The ground-nut crust was borne out of last month’s almond-grinding for the macarons. Since then, I’ve ground more almonds and hazelnuts for crusts that have earned raves among family members.
The hazelnut and wheat germ crust went perfectly well with the beets.
It could have been a planet’s unattractive red surface at first glance, and I wasn’t quite confident of the outcome that I was ready to toss it if it didn’t turn out good. However, my doubts melted after I took my first bite. I was in awe of how good everything melded together. It’s an odd marriage of ingredients, spices and textures, for sure, which really made for an interesting dessert.
I wasn’t the only one taken by it, judging by how fast it disappeared from the pie plate, down to the very last crumb. And I mean…the very last.
If you haven’t had beets as a dessert, then here’s your chance! Yummy, yummy, yummy. Dare I say it’s even healthy?! I think so. :-)
- 500 grams fresh whole beets (approx 3-4″-diameter beets), peeled and cut into ½” cubes
- 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons whole wheat flour
- 7 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3.5 oz shelled hazelnuts, ground to powder consistency in a food processor
- 2 oz wheat germ
- 4 tablespoons salted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/2 cup greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup icing sugar
- food processor (for grinding hazelnuts)
- 2 small mixing bowls
- 9″ glass pie plate
- 1 baking sheet
- parchment paper
- 1 medium mixing bowl
- 1 large mixing bowl
- aluminum foil
For the Crust:
- Preheat oven to 350°F with the rack in the lower middle position.
- Mix ground hazelnuts, wheat germ, brown sugar and melted butter in a small bowl to create a gritty paste.
- Transfer onto the pie plate. Press and level against the bottom and sides of the plate with a spatula. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool on a trivet.
Keep the oven on.
For the Filling:
- Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour and spread cubed beets on the parchment paper. Bake for 10 minutes. After removing, place the oven rack in the upper middle position.
- Put baked beets in a medium bowl and toss with lemon juice.
- Mix flour, brown sugar, ground cinnamon, and ground nutmeg using a spatula in a large bowl. Pour beets into the mixture and toss to coat.
- Beat eggs with heavy cream in the medium bowl from #5 with a fork. Pour over the beet and flour mixture, and stir together with a spatula until there are no dry spots left. Assembling the Pie:
- Transfer the beet mixture into the pie plate with crust. Level with a spatula. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
- Remove pie from the oven. Increase the temperature to 400°F and place the rack in the lower middle portion of the oven. Cover the pie plate with foil and return to the oven. Bake for another 10 minutes.
- Cool the pie (still covered with foil) on the trivet for 30 minutes, then uncover and cool for 30 minutes more.
Making the Syrup:
- Beat the icing sugar and yogurt together until smooth.
- Slice beet pie and serve with yogurt syrup. Instead of the yogurt syrup, you can also top with vanilla ice cream or crème fraiche.
Beet preparation: The original recipe calls for cubed fresh beets that are pre-baked to cook and dry a little to make them chewy. You can also shave or grate the beets if you have trouble chewing or if you don’t like them chewy; and you may then skip Step #4.
Serving suggestions: You can top the pie with vanilla ice cream or crème fraiche, instead of yogurt syrup. Best served warm. Re-heat in microwave for 10 seconds before serving.
Hazelnut Crust: Very versatile and I urge you to use it with other fruits (or veggies!).