December 13, 2023

Beets, Fire Grains and Fresh Ricotta with Rosemary

Recipe: Michael Smith

“The sweet, earthy goodness of beets is balanced with the unique, toasty flavor of freekeh.” – Michael Smith


Fresh Ricotta with Rosemary

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy 35% cream
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves finely minced (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

Fire Grains

  • 1 cup cracked freekeh
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 bay leaves

Raw, Roasted and Puréed Beets

  • 1 lb. red beets and their greens, washed, divided
  • 2 lbs. yellow or heirloom beets (or more red beets) and their greens, washed, divided
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt, divided
  • Lots of freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 cup water, divided
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp of your favourite hot sauce
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin canola or olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 2 cups Fresh Ricotta with Rosemary (see above)


Yield: Serves 4, or 8 as a side

Make Ricotta

  1. Measure milk, cream, rosemary(if using) and salt into large saucepan.Gently heat over medium heat to 190°F, using digital thermometer for accuracy, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Remove from heat and briefly stir in lemon juice. Rest, undisturbed, as curds and whey form, about 30 minutes.
  2. Line fine-mesh strainer with several layers of cheesecloth and place over large bowl. Pour mixture through strainer and drain for 60 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap, transfer to refrigerator and let strain overnight. Reserve whey for other use.

Make Fire Grains

  1. In small saucepan, combine freekeh, water, salt and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a slow simmer. Cover and cook until water is absorbed and grains are tender, about 20 minutes. Without uncovering, remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Reserve.

Roast Beets

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Turn on convection fan, if you have one.
  2. Set aside 1 of each type of beet to use raw, 2 or 3 total. Reserve 1 lb. of red beets for purée. Use the remaining red and yellow beets for roasting. Reserve any beet greens for wilting.
  3. Trim and reserve stems from roasting beets. Cut beets into quarters and transfer to 13″ x 9″ baking dish. Toss beets with vegetable oil, 1/2 tsp of salt, and pepper. Add 1/4 cup of water and cover with foil.
  4. Bake beets until tender, about 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking, occasionally shaking pan gently, until water evaporates and beets are lightly caramelized, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and rest beets in baking dish until cool enough to handle.

Make Purée

  1. Trim and reserve stems from reserved 1 lb. of red beets. Wearing gloves to minimize staining, peel beets.
  2. Use juicer to juice half of beets until you have 1/2 cup of juice. Strain juice through fine-mesh sieve into cup or bowl.
  3. Quarter remaining beets. Transfer beets and beet juice, cardamom, hot sauce, and 1/2 tsp of salt to small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cover, then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  4. Transfer to high-speed blender. Add canola oil and sherry vinegar. Purée until silky smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning. Reserve or transfer to resealable container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Finish and Serve

  1. Dice reserved beet stems. Place stems and beet leaves in saucepan with remaining 1/2 cup of water and remaining 1/2 tsp of salt. Bring to simmer over medium heat, then cover and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  2. Peel and thinly slice reserved raw whole beets.
  3. To serve, spoon beet purée onto serving platter or individual plates, then arrange roasted beets, raw beet slices, and use slotted spoon to remove wilted beet greens from saucepan. Add spoonfuls of Fire Grains and Fresh Ricotta.

Recipes from Farmhouse Vegetables by Michael Smith. ©2023 Michael Smith. Photography by Al Douglas. Published by Penguin, an imprint of Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved