I realize that many people have mixed emotions about beets. For many years, I would take a pass when offered them because I didn’t like their texture or taste.
Sure, I would eat them pickled at Thanksgiving, but I always found the cooked variety served warm rather unappetizing despite their appealing color.
Lately – at the insistence of Sheila – I have been fed a steady diet of them and now quite enjoy them in salads and simply as a vegetable course.
The secret is cooking these strong vegetables properly. Since most beets are of different sizes, it is difficult (read almost impossible) to cook them to a consistent level of “doneness.” Note: The often-discarded green leaves can be used in other vegetable preparations.
Inspired by Marcella Hazan in her More Classic Italian Cooking (Rape Rosse al Forno), the proper way to cook this red vegetable (after the leaves have been removed) is to wrap them individually in foil paper before roasting. As a time-saver, you can wrap individual beets of the same size together, but it is best to wrap them separately.
Marcella recommends roasting the beets for 1 1/2 to 2 hours in an oven at 400ºF, but I prefer smaller beets which are normally done in around an hour. The secret is to run a fork through them to test. They should be “tender but firm.”
Allow the beets to cool and then remove the outer skin with a paper towel to avoid staining your hands.
My favorite recipe for beets is with goat cheese served on the beet leaves with oil and vinegar. Be careful not to drool, since the beet juice can stain.
Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese
- 1 bunch of small beets about 4-6 depending on size
- 2 oz fresh goat cheese crumbled
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar
- Handful of mint chopped
- Flaky sea salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 400F
- Wrap beets individually and tightly in tin foil and place on rack in oven
- Cook for one hour to an hour and a half (should be tender but firm)
- Allow beets to cool and rub-off skin with paper towels to avoid staining hands
- Cut beets into cubes or match-sticks
- Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar
- Sprinkle with goat cheese, mint and salt
Looking for more inspiration in the kitchen? Try these other tested Gourmet Living vegetable recipes that will get your culinary juices flowing:
Sliced Peppers and Eggplant from Bon Appetit