October 13, 2015. Better Cheaper Fresher wins again. The object of the game: make a delicious meal with all the vegetables and fruits in this week’s CSA farm share. In less than 30 minutes.
Bright red beets and bright orange carrots were screaming to become rösti, a root vegetable pancake that’s crisp on the outside and creamy and melting on the inside. A few minutes of grating and 15 minutes of pan frying. The week’s garlic and fresh thyme would broaden the flavor palate. Kale, flash-roasted in 5 minutes, was available for the green side dish. And the apples, pears and fresh mint looked like the makings of a 5-minute sautéed fruit salsa. Eight seasonal ingredients at their peak. You can get them at your Farmers Market now. And have a great brunch for four. Let’s go.
Root Rösti CSA
Rösti is a traditional Swiss dish, a potato pancake – only better. And when you swap the potato for beets and carrots, it’s even Better. Sweeter. Richer. And crazy rich in Vitamins A and C.
It’s also totally easy and pretty quick to prepare. Peel and grate your root vegetables in less than five minutes. Fry in butter for about 12 – 14 minutes, six or seven on each side. You can substitute olive oil for butter, but I’d stick with butter for this one if you’re not vegan.
3 medium red beets, peeled and grated
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
2 tablespoons of flour
2 tablespoons of butter
1 teaspoon of chopped fresh thyme (or rosemary or sage)
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
salt to taste
Melt half the butter and let it brown in a small frying pan while you peel and grate the beets and carrots. If you’re using good, fresh ones from the Farmers Market, squeeze the water out of them. Wring them out in a piece of cheese cloth or press them in a fine-mesh colander. The fresh seasonal stuff has very high moisture content. I squeezed more than a cup of beet juice out of three beets. If you don’t, you’ll cook a pan of tasty beet mush instead of a crispy pancake.
Thoroughly toss the beets and carrots with the thyme, garlic, salt and one tablespoon of the flour. Then add the other tablespoon of flour and toss again. Slide the tossed ingredients into the melted butter and compress them with a spatula.
Six minutes later, the bottom should be crisp and dark. Now comes the tricky 15 seconds. You have to flip the half-cooked rösti without letting it fall apart. The sure and Easy Way: hold a dish tightly on top of the pan, then flip quickly. Put the pan back on the burner, add the other half of the butter and carefully slide the rösti – crisp cooked side up – back into the pan. Press it with your spatula. Another six minutes in there and you’ve got two crisp sides and a creamy, melting inside. Sweet, soft, buttery beets and carrots. Fragrant thyme and garlic.
In Switzerland, they eat the traditional potato version for breakfast. I think this beet & carrot version is great for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Beet The Clock
During the first 6 minutes of frying, I chopped the kale, tossed it with a little bit of olive oil and sea salt and spread it out on a rimmed baking sheet. Put it in a preheated 500 F oven. By the time I flipped the rösti, my flash-roasted kale chips were ready to come out of the oven to cool and crisp up.
During the next 6 minutes, I sliced and chopped an apple, a pear and two tablespoons of fresh mint. Five minutes in a teaspoon or two of melted butter in a pan over medium heat. It’s a sweet, warm fruit salsa to enjoy with the earthy, pungent rösti and the crisp, light, salty kale chips.
Less than 75 cents per serving for sweet, savory, buttery, earthy beets and carrots melting inside a crisp shell. The bright red beet roots and luminous orange carrots are jam-packed with Vitamins A and C.
Less than $1.50 for two big servings of fresh, homemade Root Rösti. At the supermarket, $4.49 for two servings of “Simply Potatoes Shredded Hash Browns-Ready To Heat & Eat”. They do the shredding, but you still have to add butter and fry. Better is Cheaper.
Let’s Do The Math
About 45 minutes to walk off your rösti. Most of the 250 calories come from the very little bit of butter and flour. Add a helping of kale chips and add all of 8 calories. That’s another 1.5 minute of walking. Your share of the fruit salsa: 10 more minutes to burn those 50 calories.
Credit where it’s due
I adapted this rösti recipe from one in the great Mark Bittman’s comprehensively great How To Cook Everything. You should have this cookbook.