The accidental beets

I accidentally grew beets in my garden.

It wasn’t a case of gardening while stoned or tipsy, or even gardening while sleepwalking, it was a case of attempting to grow beet greens. Because beet greens, which is not under-ripe beets no it is the leaves, are great in salads. So, being the moderate and practical person that I am (stop it!), I planted half a raised bed of beet greens, grown from seed.

This is where there should be a photograph, but the beet greens weren’t photogenic.

In fact they looked exactly as though they had been subjected to shotgun fire. I netted them against the deer, but bugs, or possibly very small deer, got under the net and ate tiny holes in all the beet leaves. But the beet roots continued to grow, like a revolutionary newspaper, in the safety of the underground.

The result was a harvest of beets.


Here is an example. We had quite a few more, but since I have found the Great Recipe (keep reading!) we have eaten most of them.

My other root crop (I love saying “root crop” because it sounds so incredibly dull) was potatoes. And now I will shed all hope of looking successful and show you the complete harvest of that vegetable, which we have since eaten in its entirety in 1.5 dinners.


So really my Accidental  Beets were more successful than my Deliberate Potatoes. And that is some sort of life lesson children! Anyway, I could not envision taking my stellar beet crop and boiling it. So I went to Chef Internet, read a million beet recipes, and developed one I like.

I will not make a big fuss about how you are about to experience Cooking with Linnie again, like I did with when I made blackberry ice-cream. (I don’t think you could take it.) So this is a very simple recipe which I call Root Crop Ensemble. (Don’t you love that? Makes me think of vegetables performing chamber music.)

Okay here is the simple and unadorned new recipe.

First, get out a big knife.  (Have I mentioned the knife Mr. O bought this summer, at a second-hand shop? It is the biggest most startling knife, made in Germany. He made a scabbard for it and hung it on the kitchen wall, honestly, and he keeps this knife razor sharp. My son came home to visit, pulled this monster knife out of its wooden scabbard and said, “What the hell?” Indeed.) Here is an image of this knife, with an unlucky apple used for size reference.


Anyway, you just need a normally sized normally sharp knife, not an axe, not a guillotine, nothing too unusual at all. (I do not touch that enormous scary knife.)

Then, assemble the root crops. I use potatoes, carrots, and beets. And garlic.

With a reasonably-sized knife, carefully cube up unpeeled potatoes, carrots, and (peeled) beets. (I make 2 or 3 cups of cubed potatoes, then cube a couple of beets and about 3 large carrots.)

root crops

Mix it all with 3 or 4 minced pieces of garlic, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a tablespoon of dried herbs. (I used an herb mix from Penzey’s, called Greek seasoning. It’s made of lemon, garlic, oregano and salt.) Add pepper.

Spread the mix in a shallow baking dish and roast in a 400 degree F. oven for a total of 30-40 minutes or until done, stirring it once.

roasted root crops

I’m thinking of making this ahead for maybe Thanksgiving dinner.  The leftovers are good reheated, but once I added them to chicken soup and that was good too.

It’s truly comfort food, and tastes great, and will make you feel strong and safe as you face the ghosts of autumn…

Max on the stairs


About linniew

Unpublished novelist seeks therapy in gardening. Westie assists.
This entry was posted in Max the Westie, vegetable garden and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

48 Responses to The accidental beets

  1. I wonder what colour it would come out if you whizzed it up with some stock and made soup out of it – purple I expect!

  2. Bridget says:

    Sounds good…looks even better! I love roasted veg…great Winter food. As you say…comforting. Could do with some comfort food today…the forecasters are saying we are in for 2 days of non-stop rain!!! Ahhhh!

  3. Alistair says:

    Looks wholesome Linnie, I will have to give the recipe to my vegetarian daughters who seem to think being vegetarian consists of meals of macaroni cheese, eggs with chips and pasta with a tin of tomatoes added.

    • linniew says:

      I could enjoy diet of seafood, fish and chicken and a lot of vegetarian but Mr. O doesn’t agree. I do make a wonderful vegetarian lasagna with portabella mushrooms and fresh spinach instead of meat. I’ll have to invite your daughters to supper Alistair!

  4. kininvie says:

    The accidental crop and the large knife are telling you something…..You need a beet-o-lantern!

    • linniew says:

      I believe that would be a first! I very much like the name beet-o-lantern. It reminds me of Beetlejuice, one of my favorite movies. (Mostly, in that movie, I liked the Handbook for the Recently Deceased.) Could it be we have found some new agreement on a vegetable for use as Halloween lighting? But you do the carving Kininvie, I can’t afford hospital bills.

  5. Sheila says:

    I am not going to show that knife to my husband for fear he would decide he needs one just like it. He has become obsessed by knives and seems to find sharpening them a sort of hobby. Fortunately we have a wonderful relationship or I might start to worry …

    So true that the plants that grow best in the garden are usually accidents. It’s the ones we have expectations for, or fuss over, that fail. Hmm … like an overprotective parent putting pressure on a child … Now I feel sorry for these plants 🙂

    • linniew says:

      What is it with men, ok some men, and sharp knives? A carryover maybe from a past life as a Prussian soldier? My problem is that having all the kitchen knives suddenly razor sharp always results in wounds to my very own self. Now, if I never had to do ANY cooking then deadly knives everywhere wouldn’t bother me so much. (Mr. O cooks maybe 3% of the time…) A chef is what I need, French or Italian, either will do. But no, there I am, slicing up onions and then bleeding all over the place. –Boy thanks Sheila for this excellent opportunity to whine!

      • Sheila says:

        It does seem rather primitive, perhaps dating to cavemen days when they needed razor-sharp knives to slay animals? Instead we’re risking the tips of our fingers … Although I do appreciate the sharp knives for slicing tomatoes. What I need is a chef who can make a low-sodium diet taste good!

  6. Holleygarden says:

    Sounds good! I chuckled a bit at your potato harvest. That’s about what we got out of our garden this year, too – yes, deliberately planted. Perhaps we should have planted beets instead!

    • linniew says:

      As of now I do recommend beets, Holley. But regarding potatoes, next year I’m growing them in tubs. Someone online recommended this and I can’t remember who it was but I heartily thank them for the idea!

  7. Alberto says:

    So you eat that stuff, then you re-eat the re-heated leftovers, you put the leftovers of the leftovers on a chicken soup and then if something left over again you can dip it on your morning cafè-latte. After all those beets I bet the only one who plays some… chamber music is you, dear Linnie. No wonder that poor ghostly doggie hide somewhere high…

    By the way you said cups or buckets? Maybe I didn’t get the recipe properly.

    • linniew says:

      Well Alberto, it’s true I don’t waste food, especially food I’ve grown and then prepared. Working with leftovers is an art, by the way. I would guess though, that you do not care for beets. Fine. No reason to threaten my sacred morning coffee like that.

      • kininvie says:

        Hello Alberto – I’m ashamed of you. I thought one of the virtues of every good Italian mama was to trick her boys into staying at home forever by conjuring up wonderful things to cook from whatever could be found in the garden? OK, so maybe beets doesn’t make the list of wonderful things….

  8. Fay says:

    Love the accidental beets, look yum, is max not a fan? Feels like winter here

  9. Roberta says:

    I grew turnips for turnip greens earlier this year. They were okay. I should try beets. I really have my heart set on the pumpkin though. I’m having an internal struggle this evening regarding the garden. I have to add compost before planting and I cannot justify the cost right now. It’s a painful realization.

    • linniew says:

      Hi Roberta
      I saw a truck with a load of compost today and wished I could justify buying some too. So I know exactly what you mean. We have $0 of discretionary money! Such a deal. Uninsured, I pray for health. And for you to find new employment. I will send more pumpkin seeds as soon as I carve! Be brave & hug that dog for me. L.

  10. b-a-g says:

    Linnie – I like the look of the mixed, cubed ensemble. I guess you could cook them crispy like chips or cover them and cook them soft like mash.

  11. Greggo says:

    I surprised you didn’t find a name for those smurf sized potatoes. e or no e?

  12. Roberta says:

    Your potato/coffee comment is too funny. You ALWAYS make me laugh. It’s -o for singular and -oes for plural. I’m pretty sure about that. I’ll have to verify with Dan “The Man” Quayle, but I’m pretty sure.

    And once again, your comments section is easily as amusing as your blog.

    • linniew says:

      OMG, is he talking about spelling? Well it’s just that I have sort of given up expecting to understand Greggo’s remarks. We are like ships passing in the night, mysterious and unfathomable each to the other, but having a good time. (Must be a calm sea.) Well-done Roberta, now I see what the heck he was discussing. But how I hate remembering Quayle… Greggo dear you should get some sort of “Cryptic” trophy for two whole comments which made no sense whatever to me!

  13. We have a knife that we bought new that looks like your husbands scary knife. It’s a little too big for me, but my husband who loves ti cook uses it all the time. It must be a male thing. The beet and other root crops recipe sounds delicious.

    • linniew says:

      Yes I like small knives best too. I still get cut a lot but the potential for disaster just seems smaller. Not sure why so many husbands like sabers. In general I try to avoid sharp things, and typically I still have a band-aid on some hapless finger. But I can open a beer bottle with a screwdriver. (We all have our strengths.)

  14. Love your doggie photo on the stairs! And the recipe sounds delicious. I am looking forward to trying it.

  15. Grace says:

    Your accidental beets and intentional potatoes look great. That menacing looking knife…uh not so much. Poor apple. I love roasting vegetables, especially this time of year. Comfort food indeed. Your dog is a cutie pie.

    (Your beet leaf-eater: probably not little tiny deer but maybe flea beetles. They [the beetles] are why I don’t grow leafy veggies. Despicable creatures. The tiny dear, however, stay out of the garden because my cat would eat them. She leaves the faeries alone though. She’s smart that way. Aren’t you glad you asked? Not.)

    • linniew says:

      Hi Grace
      Flea beetles? Do the beets maybe need little collars? But nothing ate the lettuces…. They were in a different box. I do know that faeries are terribly poisonous to cats — cats all know this so they leave them alone. It is understandable that faeries would evolve in that way, as a defense mechanism, very Darwin and all.

  16. Alice Joyce says:

    I’m mesmerized by your header photo,
    but the color of your roast veggies is coming a close second!

  17. That knife gives you the advantage of a quick chop over the rest of us would-be cooks! Thanks for the inspiration Linnie- will try it with the shop bought produce including an accidental butternut squash that found its way into the trolley.

    • linniew says:

      Shopping is dangerous Laura. I almost bought a turnip yesterday, just to carve. But there were only four to choose from and they were small and had no character.

  18. Marguerite says:

    As much as I love beets I have never thought to roast them before! what a fantastic idea. and if my purposeful beets had turned out as good as your crop (but unfortunately my beets were more like your potatoes) I would get right on that. Well, try again next year.

    • linniew says:

      I didn’t know about roasting beets either Marguerite–much the best that way I think. You can grow beets if I can. Next year I conquer potatoes and sunflowers. (It’s good to have goals…)

  19. My deliberate potatoes were shameful

    • linniew says:

      Catherine I am coming to the conclusion that potatoes have a mean streak, and no conscience whatsoever. This is perhaps in reaction to years of having been taken for granted, or something, I don’t know. It creates a challenge for the gardener.

  20. So much good material here, back-lurking as I am. That knife is a French chef knife, maybe Chicago Cutlery, if not some fancy German steel company more used to making swords, buy now forced to beat them into knives instead (post WWII– poor hapless weapons makers!). The proper hand position for the non-knife wielding hand is called the claw and has the fingertip joint parallel to the knife blade. The drawback is a lot less “colorful” presentation for your entres…

    • linniew says:

      I’m terrible with knives. I keep a huge stock of bandaids to keep my blood mostly where it belongs. Perhaps a nineteenth century German sword would actually be safer.

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