Abundantly bunched beets are an eye-catching site this time of year at local East End stands and farmers markets. With their hues of gold, red and orange and strong, hardy leaves (also edible), this early crop root vegetable beckons you to use them in a recipe. But sometimes, beets can seem slightly intimidating to prepare.
“Beets, like any other vegetable, are full of water,” explains executive chef Justin Smillie of the il Buco family of restaurants. “Using a method like salt-roasting will help to remove the extra water and concentrate the flavor.”
To complement the slow-roasted, skin-on beets — which creates an earthy, crunchiness and texture —Smillie’s recipe pairs them with luscious Lioni burrata (“best-eaten room temperature so you can get that buttery flavor from the inside,” says Smillie) and a complex pistachio pesto, accented with green yuzu kosho, a Japanese condiment Smillie describes as “the perfect marriage of citrus and chiles coming together.”
Start by sourcing your beets from your local farmer, which is the mission statement for the menu at Amgansett’s il Buco al Mare.
“We source our beets and produce from both Balsam Farms and Amber Waves,” says chef de cuisine Grecia Medrano, who can attest to the popularity of this sophisticated recipe. “Our regular diners loved this dish so much, it’s now a small plates staple.”
Pair this with a crisp local rosé, like Wölffer’s 2022 Gold Label Estate Rosé and inspired tableware from il Buco Vita, and you have a great, impressive starter for a summer holiday weekend dinner.
Il Buco al Mare’s burrata with roasted beets
- 2 balls Lioni Burrata (each ball in the 4 oz size)
- 3 medium-sized beets, washed, ends trimmed
- kosher salt
For the pesto:
- 1/2 cup garlic confit
- 1/4 cup ginger
- 1 cup pistachios
- 1 oz grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- 2 handfuls fresh basil (approximately 4 oz)
- 1 tbsp green yuzu kasha (found at most Asian specialty markets or online)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- fresh lemon juice
- chardonnay vinegar
- salt to taste
For the garlic confit
- 3 heads garlic
- 1 1/2 cups grapeseed oil