Sunday, June 30, 2013

Beet Top and Potato Pie


This is a somewhat unimaginative picture of a thing I have posted about at least once before, but June is the season for using up random produce, because that is what there is. On the other hand, this pie was very tasty, and I have eaten it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on several different days and it was equally good for all occasions. (I do wish I had remembered to add cheese. You can top it with some slices of brie if you want. Strongly recommended.)

 You will need:

1 recipe of crust for a 2 crust pie. I like a half whole wheat and half white flour recipe for savory pies. Mine is

1 cup AP flour
1 cup wheat flour
2/3 cup butter, cool but not freezing
3/4 tsp salt, or a bit more if you use unsalted butter
6 tablespoons cold water

Cut the butter together with the flour & salt until the butter is no bigger than peas. Add the water and mix gently just until it forms a raggedy ball, then refrigerate it until you need it.


2 russet potatoes, medium sized
the tops off of 4 moderately small beets
a clove of garlic, crushed
a chopped onion
salt and pepper
plenty of butter

Pre-heat the oven to 375.

Cube and boil the potatoes. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, prepare the leaves. Start by thoroughly rinsing them. No matter how well the beets have been washed, little gritty things will have gotten stuck down in the stems near the beet crowns. Coarsely chop the leaves, keeping the stems separate from the leafy parts.

Saute the onion in butter until it's transparent. Then add the stems because they take somewhat longer to cook than the leaves. Add the leaves last and cook until tender. Mix everything together with the potatoes. Bash the potatoes up until they are not too big, but not totally obliterated either. Add salt & pepper to taste.

Roll the crust out into an 18" circle. If it's uneven and raggedy that's fine. Pile the filling up in the middle and flatten it out until there's about 5 or 6 inches of crust around the outside. Fold the extra crust loosely up around the filling and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the crust is as brown as you like it. If you can stand to, let it get browner than the picture. The crust is fine if you don't, but I think it's even better if it has more crunch. I was impatient. As usual.

Beets are a twofer. You can think of them as just a variety of chard that you grow because they have this bonus knobby part on the bottom which you can eat later. Possibly the reverse is true- somebody didn't care for the knobs, so they just started growing the kind of leaves that doesn't make any knobs. I didn't know this about beets until I started cooking them regularly, and then the appearance of the leaves tipped me off. Then I started to wonder what made people stop eating the tops as a regular thing- one time a vendor asked me at the farmer's market if I wanted him to cut the tops off my beets and I said no, eating the tops is half the reason to buy them whole, wasn't it? He agreed, but said that some people still didn't want the leaves. Seems to me that if you're going to buy a mess of greens, you might as well just buy beets with tops on them, and get two dishes out of them for the money. At a guess, eating beets at their smaller, newer stage, is a thing that people have started to do again relatively recently. A lot of farmer's market shoppers probably had parents who never looked at a beet before it went into a can, and if you buy a large beet that has been allowed to grow for a full season, the leaves will be pretty tough and unappealing. So, yeah. New beets are tasty, and the tops are good for eating.


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