I have always been an eater, but not always a cook. Not that I'll eat anything. I will never eat those red skinned, pink bodied little boy sausages. I don't think I did even as a child in a party dress, but surely that is a sign of sanity rather than snobbery?
I grew up in a gourmet kitchen with a mother who thought nothing of preparing marinated spatchcock Sicilian style for a Wednesday night dinner with her two daughters when her husband was away. Only now with children of my own do I see how brave that was of her, to every night put thought and effort into a dinner which could with out any regard to this be thrown on the floor. (Although she did temporarily lose her experimental drive sometime in the early 90s when for every school lunch for a full year my sister and I ate goats cheese and pesto turkish bread sandwiches, in varying levels of defrosted-ness depending on the season).
Thanks to mum I have a love of eating delicious things and until I moved to the country I have been able to look after this love without cooking. In the flatmate days of my 20s I do not remember what I ate other than it was often good and I rarely cooked it. Somehow I always had enough money to eat out. Our fridge was empty except for a few bottles of sav blanc on special and the bench was for storing a hand of bananas that a rat sometimes ate first.
When I moved to Moree, in order to eat well on a daily basis I had to cook. It's easy to cook well when you like to eat well. What did not come so naturally was to do so on a budget. Economy in the kitchen had never really crossed my mind, except in the context of never going to Tetsuya's. But I married into a family who, mostly, cannot bear waste and especially in the kitchen. Just as M. K. Fisher felt sure most men and women who cooked their way through past wars would "until their final days on earth, feel some kind of culinary caution", so too will my mother-in-law. She rejoices in dinners she calls Eating up the Fridge which can be very tasty but are first and foremost unwasteful.
This recipe, although it is hardly a recipe, is a nod to that sentiment but in reverse. It is primarily delicious but also thrifty.
Roasted beetroots AND their sautéed stalks
Buy a bunch of beets with their stalks and leaves attached. Cut the leaves and stalks at the beetroot base, chop and put aside. Wash the beetroots and boil them for about 15 minutes. When coolish use your fingers to take the skin off. This should be easy. Then transfer to a hot oven to roast with some olive oil and salt and pepper. (You could skip this step and just keep boiling until tender and then remove the skins). When cooked, dress with a splash of red wine vinegar, olive oil, dijon mustard and chopped parsley.
Separately sautee the chopped stems and leaves in some oil with garlic, salt and pepper. Serve together with the roasted beets as a side to lamb or in the case of dinner last night, a pan-seared fillet of fish.
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