When I spied these at the market I had to look twice and then, look again. While I've enjoyed baby beetroot in the past I'd never seen any examples as tiny as these - for some in my bunch they really are at the earliest stage of crossing that line from root to beetroot.
Having purchased them, the question then became, what will I do with them? Whatever I needed to do had to something that was quick - just enough to wilt the leaves and heat the root. A stir fry perhaps but it needed something else and that something else turned out to be garlic shoots.
They may look quite pretty and gentile but there is nothing gentile about their aroma - they pack a powerful garlic scent. I'll use them in a two fold matter - a fine julienne will be left to infuse in a neutral oil which will then in turn be used to stir fry the beetroot shoots. Profound yet simple - a striking side dish was born.
Sautéed Beetroot Shoots
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
*I don't know how readily available beetroot shoots are but if you are growing beets in your garden, you might like to try this dish using the shoots that are thinned out.
Prepare the oil:
Don't use an extra virgin or olive oil as it might overpower the dish - use a neutral or light flavoured oil.
Chop the root and tips from a garlic shoot and cut 2" cylinders - slice the cylinders in half and then finely julienne. Place this into a bowl and drizzle in enough oil to cover - let this infuse for a couple of hours.
Prepare the beetroot shoots:
As the entire shoot is used, it's important to clean it thoroughly. Drop them into a bowl of tepid water to remove the larger grit and then carefully rinse under running water.
Once they've been cleaned, stand them up in a jug that will hold them snugly and fill with water. Let them sit for an hour, this should dislodge anything that remains.
Cook the dish:
Place a wok on a medium heat and let it come up to temperature - drizzle in some of the infused oil (but not the garlic shoots), it should sizzle.
Remove the beetroot from their container and add to the oil - give it a quick toss and then add in the julienned garlic shoots. Keep tossing the ingredients and cook until the leaves have just wilted and the roots have warmed through. Season with salt and pepper, toss a final time and then tip out onto your serving dish.
While you can enjoy them hot from the wok, they also are quite delicious when cold.