My dad is in his late 80’s and still grows a garden big enough to feed a small third world nation. Everyone tells him that he should cut back. Make the garden smaller. Grow less. Spend more time relaxing and less time planting, and harvesting, and weeding.
My mom is one of these advocates because all this garden represents work for her too. A summer seemingly spent at the Formica counter peeling and chopping. An un-airconditioned kitchen filled with the heat from blanching. Frosted plastic containers with blue lids filled with both of my parent’s work en route to the freezer. The canning pot boiling away on the stove with the jars inside softly clinking in their bubbly bath. I remember it all so clearly.
My parents live about 45 minutes away. Lives get busy and I don’t go out there as much as I should and rarely of an evening. But recently I found myself at their house – currently corralled by fields of tall corn – at that dusty time before a country sunset. And I spent a large part of that time in that garden. My dad and I walking the rows, filling crinkly shopping bags with green beans, zucchini (because there’s always zucchini), beets and onions that still smelled like wet dirt. My hands were a yellowish green and a recycled brown box overflowing with round red tomatoes explained why.
I took too much. I always take too much. But I get caught up in the excitement and the memories of being on the farm. It makes me feel like a little girl again and that feeling is hard to resist.
As much as I try to slow it down, life is busy and those beets have been sitting in my fridge for almost too long but I refuse to let them become compost. My husband slipped me a copy of the current Food & Wine magazine at the airport as I was departing on a recent business trip. And there, at 35,000 feet somewhere over the Midwest, I found the inspiration for at least part of my garden harvest.
- 12 small beets with 1 inch of stem (1½ pounds), scrubbed but not peeled
- 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 tsp flaky salt, plus more for seasoning
- 1 Tbsp Champagne vinegar
- 1 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
- ½ cup microgreens
- 2 Tbsp pistachios, finely chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a large baking dish, toss the beets with the 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt. Roast for about 1½ hours, until the beets are tender. Transfer the beets to a plate.
- Add the vinegar to the baking dish and stir with a spoon, lifting up any browned bits. Scrape the vinegar mixture into a small bowl.
- Once the beets are cool enough to handle, slip off the skins and cut into wedges.
- In a small bowl, season the yogurt with salt. Dollop the salted yogurt onto serving plates.
- Top with the beet wedges and microgreens. Drizzle with the vinegar mixture. Season with salt and a drizzle of olive oil.
- Sprinkle with pistachios and serve immediately.
- MAKE AHEAD: Step 1 can be completed 2 days in advance. Refrigerate the beets and vinegar mixture separately.