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These Harvard Beets conjure up memories of a famous Philadelphia restaurant back in the 1950’s. Simmered in sugar and vinegar, these super sweet and tangy beets make a delicious side dish.
When #SundaySupper announced the Retro Foods theme, I knew just who to turn to for advice — my dad. Classic recipes from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s are the inspiration behind today’s event and Dad had some really great ideas. Asking him to come up with ideas for the theme was so much fun. He got to reminisce about some of his childhood favorite foods and I got to learn about dishes I’d never heard of. This is what my dad had to say:
As a young kid, my parents used to take me to Horn and Hardart’s on Chestnut St. This was the famous Automat, where food was in little cubicles behind glass in the wall, and you got the door to open by inserting coins in the slot, like vending machines today, except this was a whole wall. See the picture. It was all self-service, like a cafeteria, moving in line with a tray, except there were no people serving — just these little windows with food behind the glass. After you got your food, you had to find a place to sit down and eat it. You had to sit wherever there was room. You might have had to sit with strangers, but who cared! My very favorite food there was harvard beets.
Another restaurant was Linton’s. This was great. They must have had tables, but I can’t remember sitting anywhere but at the counter, where a waitress took your order just like in a diner today. The difference was the way the food got to you. It came out on a conveyer belt that ran along the entire counter, just behind it, where you or the waitress could reach over and grab your food as it went by. They had great coffee.
The Melrose Diner was another one that goes back to my childhood.
I think my fondness for a Hot Turkey Sandwich and Mashed Potatoes with Cole Slaw traces its way back to these three places. Add a side order of Harvard Beets, and I’d be in heaven!
Since I’m such a huge fan of beets as it is, it was no question that I’d be making Harvard Beets for this week’s #SundaySupper. They turned out exactly how I imagined they would. I roasted fresh beets instead of buying a can like most recipes I found online called for. It’s so easy to pop the beets in the oven and do it yourself, plus I really wanted to make these totally from scratch. I placed the sliced, cooked beets in a pot of water to mimic the “beet water” you’d get from the canned variety. That liquid, plus sugar, vinegar and corn starch simmer on the stovetop and turn into this luscious, thick and shiny coating for those slices of beets.
I made the dish for Monday Supper (hah) last week while my younger sister was here visiting during her Spring Break. Bubby cooked red snapper and her signature crispy eggplant, and I added these Harvard Beets to the table. It was a perfect family meal. I can’t wait to make Harvard Beets again for my dad when he visits later this month!
- 3 medium fresh beets, washed and greens removed
- olive oil
- 1 cup reserved beet water
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar (regular white sugar will work too)
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp corn starch
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Drizzle olive oil over beets and sprinkle with salt.
- Wrap the beets loosely in tin foil and place on a baking sheet. Cook for 50 minutes.
- Fill a medium bowl with water and set aside.
- Allow the beets to cool completely and use a paper towel to rub off the skins.
- Slice into 1/2-inch discs and place into the water. Let sit for about 5 minutes.
- Add the reserved beet water, sugar, vinegar and cornstarch to a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil.
- Lower to a simmer and add the beets to the pan, stirring until completely coated.
- Simmer until the liquid has thickened to a syrup-like consistency.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Store in tupperware in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Serve cold.
Thanks to this week’s host, Heather of Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks! Let’s see what other Retro Foods my #SundaySupper friends have cooked up this week!
Bodacious Breakfasts and Appetizers:
- Classic Chex Party Mix from Peanut Butter and Peppers
- Healthy Green Goddess Dip from Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen
- Homemade Doughnuts from Cosmopolitan Cornbread
Made in the Shade Main Dishes:
- Bacon Wrapped Individual Meatloaf from The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen
- Chicken ala King from Recipes Food and Cooking
- Chicken Rice Casserole from Curious Cuisiniere
- Chicken in a Basket from Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
- Chicken Parisienne from Carrie’s Experimental Kitchen
- Chicken Pot Pie from Whole Food | Real Families
- Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast from FoodieTots
- Creamy Baked Pork Chops from Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Individual Beef Wellingtons from Small Wallet, Big Appetite
- Mom’s Chicken Pot Pie with Cheddar Biscuits from Simply Healthy Family
- Mom’s Shepherd’s Pie from Momma’s Meals
- Ravioli di Magro from Manu’s Menu
- Salisbury Steak with Onion Gravy from Webicurean
- Sweet and Sour Pork Meatballs from Palatable Pastime
- Tuna Noodle Casserole from Sew You Think You Can Cook
- Uptown Goulash from Family Foodie
Swell Side Dishes:
- Creamy Lime Gelatin Salad from Magnolia Days
- Harvard Beets from Take A Bite Out Of Boca
- Retro Crock Pot Crabby Soup from Seduction in the Kitchen
- Roasted Broccoli Cheese Casserole from NeighborFood
- Seven Layer Salad from Lifestyle Food Artistry
- Wedge Salad from Our Good Life
- Bananas Foster from The Redhead Baker
- Creamsicle Jello Mold from Cupcakes & Kale Chips
- Frosty Chocolate Dream Bites from Wallflour Girl
- Hummingbird Cream Cheese Cookies from Dandelion Greens
- Jello Poke Cake from The Life and Loves of Grumpy’s Honeybunch
- Mom’s Heath Bar Cake from Kudos Kitchen by Renee
- Old Fashioned Banana Pudding from Pies and Plots
- One, Two, Three Jello from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Original Mayonnaise Chocolate Cake with No Cook Fudge Frosting from A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Pineapple Upside Down Cake from Eat, Drink and be Tracy
- Raspberry Crunch from Peaceful Cooking
- Tunnel of Fudge Cake from Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
The Bee’s Knees Beverages:
- Blood Orange Sidecar from Nosh My Way
- Crème de Menthe Parfait from Food Lust People Love
- Vanilla Bean Old Fashioned from The Texan New Yorker
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