I love beets. I love the rich color of the red sugar beets, the earthy flavor of a golden beet, and the beauty of a candy cane beet. Yum.
For those of you who have judged all beets by what has come out of a can, or what you’ve seen at a buffet salad bar, you’re really missing out. Below is a simple method for roasting a beet, my hands down favorite way of preparing them. You can always boil them as well, which is how my mother in law prefers to make them. Either way, try them! One serving of beets is chock full of flavor and nutrients, but ridiculously low in calories. The greens are similar to kale, and are delicious when sauteed with some olive oil, salt, and parmesan cheese.
OK, OK, the greens may be too ambitious for you right now, (I have a friend who calls them ‘yard weed’) so let’s just stick with the root itself.
To roast a beet, cut off all of the green except for an inch or two. Set them on a square of heavy duty foil, and sprinkle with salt. Seal the foil so no steam escapes. Put the foil packet in a pie pan and place in a 400 degree oven for an hour for a medium sized beet, maybe 75 minutes if it’s a big honker.
Remove from oven and carefully unwrap. Once they’ve cooled enough to handle, you should be able to just peel the skins off. Yes, your hands will turn red. So will everything else they touch. Proceed carefully! If you wash your hands with dishwashing liquid as soon as you’re done, the stains come off easily.
Once you have them peeled, cool completely. Now what, you say? Well, assuming you’re not like me and enjoy just slicing and eating them, here are some ideas.
1. Fake caprese: layer beet slices, mozzarella cheese slices, and basil leaves. Top with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and fresh ground black pepper.
2. Chunk up and toss with other hearty roasted vegetables for a great medley with dinner: brussels sprouts, carrots, potatoes, cauliflower.
3. Make a salad! Pick as many or as few as you like: spinach, mixed spring greens, leaf lettuce, jicama, dried cranberries, goat cheese, blue cheese, mozzarella balls, almonds, walnuts, pecans, bacon bits, dried figs, dried dates, red onion, sunflower seeds, grilled shrimp, grilled chicken, zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes.
One of my favorite recipes that is always a big hit with a crowd is the salad below:
Start with baby spinach and mixed spring greens. Use a 1/2 inch dice to make 3/4 cup of beets and 1/2 cup of jicama. Heat a small saute skillet and melt 1 TBSP. butter; add 1/4 c. pecan halves and 1/2 c. almonds. Stir to coat, then add 1 TBSP. brown sugar. Stir to melt the sugar and coat the nuts. Turn off the heat, and pat the nuts into a single layer on the bottom on the skillet. Let cool. Crumble 4 oz. of goat cheese into the greens, then toss in the jicama and beet. Add a generous handful of dried cranberries, or dice some dried cherries. Crumble the candied nuts in. Crumble 4-6 slices of crisp bacon. Drizzle with olive oil and a sweet balsamic reduction. (You can buy balsamic reduction, or just pour 1/2 c. in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until it’s reduced by half. Let cool.)
That’s enough for now….but hopefully this will get you started on a beet adventure! Next we’ll be talking about juicing, sauces, and greens…..