I planted beets, and then forgot about them. This is why I don't have a blooming vegetable garden-- I get sidetracked by things, forget about them, they wither and die, or else turn into bitter monsters, either way, I render many things inedible.
I don't know what happened with these beets.
Or what turned them into such mutants.
All I knew was that I needed to find something to do with them... and fast.
Luckily, around the same time, I noticed that the tomatoes I had bought last week were getting really squidgy. I went to Louisville for the week to visit some friends, and on return found that the Hedgehog had eaten nothing but toast while I was gone. All of those beautiful tomatoes were going to go to waste unless I found something to do with them!
And then I remembered, in my favourite preserving book, a recipe for a beet and tomato relish. I was missing a few ingredients, but, never fearing improvisation, I made a few substitutions. This stuff is delicious on toast with cheese. Or with roast chicken. Or set out at a table with mixed meats and cheeses for a late lunch. And I think in a few months, it will make a good present for the holidays too...
Beet and Tomato Relish
Adapted from the River Cottage Preserves Book
Makes 6 4-oz jars
2 1/4 lbs tomatoes
2 tsp salt
6 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1/4 cup olive oil
2 jalapenos (or any spicy chili pepper)
2 1/4 lbs beets
1 cup sugar (I used sucanat)
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1 red onion, chopped
2 oz mustard
Preheat oven to 350.
Put the beets on a baking sheet, and drizzle with a wee bit of olive oil. Roast them in the oven until the skins have blistered and blackened-- usually 1 1/2-2 hours.
Meanwhile, cut the tomatoes in half, and place them on a baking sheet, with the juicy bits facing up. Cover with salt, olive oil, garlic, and chopped jalapeno, then roast in the oven for 1 hour. Remove, and allow to cool slightly, then press the whole lot through a sieve into a bowl. It will take a while, but eventually you'll have a beautiful, slightly spicy tomato puree in the bowl, and a mass of skins and seeds in the sieve.
When the beets are out of the oven, and cooled slightly, peel off the skins. They should come off really easily. Then put them through a food processor, or blender, until they're either grated or coarsely chopped into little pieces (but NOT pureed).
Preheat the oven to 500. Put in the cleaned jars that you will be using (Not with the lids).
In a heavy bottomed pan on the stove, bring the sugar, vinegars, onion, and mustard to a boil, for 5 minutes. With the heat on medium, add the tomato puree and cook for 3 minutes, then add the beets, and cook for ten minutes. Remove from the heat, and remove the jars from the oven. Spoon the relish into the jars, scoot a spatula around the edges to remove air bubbles, and screw on the lids. Once cooled, check the seals-- if they are sealed properly then they will keep in a cool place for up to 1 year.