Savory Beet and Cheddar Crumble
Updated: Sep 25, 2018
It is late summer and the bounty from my brother's organic farm includes beautiful, garnet colored beets! In my family we typically make a Ukrainian-style chunky borscht and lots of roasted beet and goat cheese salads with our share of the harvest. However, this year I wanted to try my hand at the jewel-toned clear barszcz that is traditionally served with mini mushroom pierogi on Christmas Eve in Poland. Clear barszcz is also delicious cold, garnished with a halved hard boiled egg. Making clear barszcz is a lot easier than I thought it would be, but I did not know what to do with the still tasty beets that I strained from the broth. I found a recipe for a beet, greens and cheddar crumble on the New York Times Cooking Page, which I modified below.
This savory crumble is perfect for the cooler nights of late summer. It offers the comfort food sensation of a rich macaroni and cheese without the heaviness of pasta. The finished product is a gorgeous scarlet red with a crisp golden crust on top. This recipe was a hit with the adults and children at my table and can serve as a meatless main dish.
5-6 medium beets, roasted and diced into 1 inch squares
9 tablespoons cold butter, divided
1 1/3 cups flour, divided
2 cups milk
8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons of mustard powder
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce (or more)
¼ cup rolled oats
3 tablespoons toasted walnuts, chopped
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoons dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Toast walnuts on a cookie sheet for about 5 minutes, or until golden. Remove and set aside for the crumble.
In a medium sauce pan on the stove top, prepare a béchamel sauce by melting 5 tablespoons of butter over low heat. Stir in 2/3 cup of the flour and cook while stirring constantly for 2 minutes. The roux should smell cooked but stay light in color. Slowly whisk in the milk and stir until the sauce thickens. Add the grated sharp cheddar cheese, mustard powder, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce. Taste the sauce and adjust spices if you prefer a bolder flavor.
In a medium bowl make the crumble. Stir together 2/3 cup of flour, the rolled oats, the toasted nuts, the parmesan cheese and the nutmeg. Season with a little salt and pepper. Cut in the remaining 4 table spoons of butter with a pastry knife until the crumble consists of large and small crumbles of dough.
To assemble the dish, butter the bottom of a 9” by 13” baking pan. Put a thin layer of the béchamel sauce on the bottom of the pan. Layer half the beets in the pan. Sprinkle with half of the thyme and a bit of salt and pepper. Place a layer of the béchamel sauce over the beets (reserving enough for a final layer). Layer the remaining beets, the remaining thyme and a bit more salt and pepper. Layer the remaining béchamel sauce on top. Cover the entire surface with the crumble topping. Bake 1 ¼ hours until golden brown and bubbly.