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Beets. I always think of canned pickled beets, which gross me out. I think. I'm not sure I've actually tried them, at least not recently, but it's a long-harbored prejudice that I just can't shake. So when it came time in our mission to expand our vegetable portfolio and also to adapt to winter veggies, I really hesitated on the beets. But we found a nice dirty handful of them and decided to give it a go. I was nervous.

I won the first battle, leaving a bloody, beety mess all over the kitchen. We wanted to roast them, figuring that's a fairly safe method for a beet-o-phobe.

This is what we came up with. (Also, I need to set up a better lighting situation for night photos.) All of the beet recipes I found included goat cheese, so I included it in ours as well. This article from The Kitchn recommended roasting beets in their skins and then just sliding them out of their skins, easy peasy, without any fuss or staining of fingers and cutting boards. That didn't work. I roasted the hell out of them, and they weren't sliding out of their skins at all. I ended up peeling the cooked beets normally. Next time I'll peel the beets first, season them and drizzle with olive oil before roasting. The dressing was adapted from this recipe from Epicurious.

Beets & Sweets
Ingredients
  • Some beets
  • A sweet potato
  • Smidge of goat cheese
  • Brown rice, quinoa or some other grain
  • Seasoning of your choice
  • Olive oil
For the dressing
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
Directions
  1. Like I said, we roasted the beets in their skins but I recommend that you just bite the bullet and peel them first. Your hands get a little red but if you wash them quickly it shouldn't stain. Peel the beets, don't peel the sweet potatoes (unless you really want to). Toss with just a bit of olive oil and seasoning such as sea salt and cracked black pepper or whatever suits your fancy. Loosely wrap the beets and sweets in aluminum foil and bake for about 50-60 minutes at 375 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients. Toss the roasted vegetables in the dressing and serve over a grain. We chose quinoa. Crumble goat cheese on top and enjoy

No measurements recorded for this one, but I think it's fairly straightforward and adaptable to your whims and fancies.

Now for the verdict on the beets: not bad. Not bad at all, in fact. Sweet, earthy and rooty tasting. Not slimy. Still not my favorite veggie, but perfectly acceptable.

Do you like beets? How do you cook 'em? Are there other highly suspicious winter vegetables that you think I should try? It can be like Iron Chef, except the rules are that you suggest a nasty veggie and I try to make it palatable :)

(Cross-posted at http://unspeakablevisions.blogspot.com/2010/11/sweets-beets.html.)

Views: 46

Tags: recipe

Comment by Scissors & Drumsticks on November 22, 2010 at 9:47pm
The only experience I have ever had with beets were the canned variety, and was not impressed. Beets seem to be making a huge come back amongst the younger generations. Maybe I need to try them like you did. What did you think of them?
Comment by Linda Sing on November 22, 2010 at 10:21pm
I LOVE beets! I just discovered this last year and have been growing them year-round ever since. They are the perfect food - edible tops that sautee up like chard (beets and chard are the same, btw), the roots are roasted, pealed and chopped. Mmmm.

I usually make a chilled salad out of the roasted beets. With sugar snap peas if they are growing, always with balsamic vinegar as a dressing, feta, red onion (roasted or sauteed), and walnuts are all great additions - think winter, earthy flavors. I like the mild sweetness of beets, and their earthy flavor. Now, detractors call that earthy flavor "tasting like dirt" - I've heard that comment from two different people! - but I like it.

My husband made a pasta sauce with sauteed red onion, roasted beets, rosemary and balsamic vinegar - I added feta to the leftovers for a little slice of heaven. For the non-red beet varieties, you don't need to worry about staining (yellow, striped, white, etc.), and I use a plastic glove when I'm doing the red ones. No difference in flavor, but the yellow ones mixed inwith the red ones are striking.
Comment by Christine on November 23, 2010 at 8:41am
Scissors, that's so funny that beets are making a "come back"... who knew veggies could be in style? I was actually impressed with these beets, I was set on not liking them but they were a little sweet and earthy like Linda said.

And Linda, thanks for the great menu ideas! Hearing someone like beets that much makes me more confident to keep trying them :) And I believe, that most anything is delicious if you add feta!
Comment by Aliza Ess on November 23, 2010 at 12:12pm
Pickle them in cider vinegar with a little sugar and black peppercorns!

The sweet and sour tang really reinforces the sweetness of the beets and tones down the earthy flavor. I love beets, but they are definitely kind of bland when you just roast them.

After they are pickled you can add them to anything you like, and I agree that goat cheese is always a great pairing.
Comment by Beginning Farmer Coordinator on November 23, 2010 at 1:22pm
When I roast beets whole, I do so in a covered pyrex baking dish, no water or anything. 400 degrees for 30-60 minutes, depending on the beets. To eat right away, I run them under cold water and usually the skins DO slip off. Otherwise, I find that leaving them in the oven overnight or for several hours AFTER I turn it off sort of causes the skins to loosen and separate, ready for peeling when I need a beet. I leave the covered dish in my fridge to not have to bother with transferring the dripping beets to other vessels and making a mess. I do this weekly and then have roasted beets for salads or for re-heating with other veggies. Hooray for beets being locally available in my area all year round! Some people suggest individually wrapping beets in foil and following about the same procedure.
Comment by Christine on November 23, 2010 at 1:24pm
Roasting and then leaving them in the oven overnight sounds smart... I can see how that would help the skins separate off more easily. Thanks for the tip!
Comment by Stephanie M, Together In Food on November 24, 2010 at 2:03pm
Christine,
Here's a trick for easily peeling roasted beets: Roast them in their skins (I trim the ends, toss them with olive oil and a bit of salt, then put them in a baking dish with a dash of water and cover tightly with foil). Once they're cool enough to handle, rub them with paper towels. Skins come right off, AND you don't get bloody-looking fingertips.

I love beets. Usually we eat them warm out of the oven or lightly pickled in salad. For the latter, roast and peel as above. Make a vinaigrette by letting chopped shallots sit in a bit of red wine vinegar and salt for 5-10 minutes and whisk in olive oil and freshly ground black pepper. Cut beets into big chunks and toss in vinaigrette. Great with a mesclun salad.

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