Creativity in the kitchen makes cents

Recipe mashup makes for a tasty but affordable dish

My Roast Beets and Grapefruit recipe is actually a mashup of two other recipes, but turned out very well. (Michelle Meyer / Clarion)

My Roast Beets and Grapefruit recipe is actually a mashup of two other recipes, but turned out very well. (Michelle Meyer / Clarion)

Michelle Meyer, Staff Writer

I challenge myself. I search. I find. I try new things. I discover. I experience joy.
Over and over, my relationship with local produce is awakened, inspiring me to approach grocery shopping as a challenge, to buy as much local produce as possible.
The challenge often takes me outside of my comfort zone, to discover joy in new recipes. Recipes that I never thought I would like.
As a rule, when trying new or different foods, I keep the recipe selection simple and complement with familiar ingredients. This strategy keeps my mind open to experiencing new flavors and developing a recipe repertoire.
My challenge recipe from this week’s grocery store trip is inspired by the reservoir root vegetable, beta vulgaris, commonly known as the beetroot.
I mashed up a couple of recipes for this one. Working with a budget, I relied on some pantry staples.
I started with Willy Street Coop’s Blood Orange, Beet and Fennel Salad, and paired it with Food & Wine’s Roasted Beet, Ruby Red Grapefruit and Warm Honey Salad. Despite the mashup, I still had to get creative with ingredients, kitchen gadgets and cooking supplies.
Humble beginnings, I follow the instructions, wash three normal-sized beets and preheat the oven to 375. However, this is where I sidestep the recipe and creatively work with what my budget allows.
The recipes suggest rubbing the washed beets with olive oil, seasoning them with salt, wrapping them with heavy duty aluminum foil and placing them on a baking sheet. I modified this step.
I used an oval shaped casserole dish with a glass top (probably 2.5 quart, purchased at Goodwill for $3.99). I then covered the bottom of the dish with a generous amount of parchment paper. Place the washed beets in the parchment paper’d dish, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and place in the preheated oven for 50 minutes.
Side note knowledge: Parchment paper is less expensive than aluminum foil and better for the environment. The comparison for 50 square feet of product is parchment paper at $2.94 and aluminum foil at $4.98. I take my savings on this product and purchase five ruby red grapefruits.
Being on a budget is why meshing recipes is so important. I want the blood oranges that Willy’s recipe calls for. However, Food & Wine’s ingredients, at this time of year are kinder to my budget, so I grab the grapefruit.
I’m happy with this comparison. I refer to the instructions, carefully peeling away the rind (the white hard shell around the fruit) and sectioning each wedge, separating the fruit from the connective membrane. I do this with all five grapefruits. I squeeze the remaining juice from the grapefruit center into the Tupperware.
Then I slice the segments, making bite-size portions to mix with the recipe. I place the grapefruit and grapefruit juice in a covered Tupperware in the fridge.
I wait until my timer sounds, then pull the beets from the oven.
I make sure to let them cool at room temperature. I do not time this step, as I am usually busy multitasking; maybe a couple of hours to cool?
Then, I peel the skin, slice into bite-size pieces to mix with the grapefruit. Now comes my favorite part, deciding what to add to the salad … Does it need texture? Crunch? Bitter? Fat? Sweet? Richness? Creaminess?
I decided to complement the dish with sunflower seeds for extra protein and some crunch, a drizzle of local honey for sweetness, a sprinkle of Athenos Feta for creaminess and a drizzle of Olive oil for richness. The recipe called for onions and fennel, except I did not have those on hand, so I improvised.

Roast Beets and Grapefruit

• 3 Beet Roots (Locally Grown)
• 5 Ruby Red Grapefruits
• Olive Oil (about 5 tablespoons)
• Salt and Pepper (to taste)
• Athenos Feta Cheese (1 cup)
• Honey (about 2 tablespoons, optional)
• Roasted Sunflower Seeds (~1/2 cup, optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Wash beets in cold water
Line the casserole dish with parchment paper
Drizzle olive oil over beets, season with salt
Fold over parchment paper and cover dish with the top
Place the dish in the oven and set a timer for 50 minutes
Section and juice the grapefruit
After 50 minutes, let the beets cool to room temperature and slice into bite-size pieces
Combine the grapefruit sections, the beets and the grapefruit juice
Compliment with your faves, which might include walnuts, chopped pear,
sunflower seeds, dried cranberry, grated or crumbled cheese, honey, rosemary or fennel
Drizzle with olive oil and honey