I started growing beets because I love their greens. Beets and Swiss chard happen to be different varieties of the same species, Beta vulgaris. Beet greens look quite similar to chard, but they have a tender texture and a slightly more refined, spinach-like flavor. We eat the greens all the time in winter. I love to fold feta, dill, and sauteed beet greens into a puff pastry tart shell and serve it with a bowl of soup.
It took me awhile to grow to like, and then eventually love, beetroot. My grandmother canned beets when I was young and served them often. To this day I cannot get over how vinegary, clove-y chunks of pickled beet look like they are bleeding all over the plate.
Based on my dislike of pickled beets, I avoided eating all beetroot, no matter how it was prepared. Then, a few years ago I tried roasted beets with marcona almond butter at Cafe Juanita.
It was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Seriously. That dish reminded me to never wholesale disregard a food. Now that I eat beetroot, I prefer to roast them. Roasting pushes the earthy quality of beets into the background and brings forth a sweeter, caramelized flavor. I often just chop the roasted roots and drizzle them with a bit of olive oil and salt pepper before serving them. I also toss like to toss chunks of roasted beets with vinaigrette and serve them over arugula with chopped Marcona almonds. Lately I’ve been making grilled sandwiches with chevre and very thinly sliced golden beets. Sounds weird, but it is totally delicious!
To prevent the beets from bleeding their brightly colored juice everywhere, twist—-don’t cut—off their leaves and snip the long taproot down to a 1-inch long nub. Peeling and chopping beets prior to roasting causes a huge mess. Instead, I roast the beets whole in packets of foil and then peel off their skins.
To do so, tear off a 12 inch length of aluminum foil. Place a single large beet, or a couple of smaller ones, in the middle of the foil. Draw the long sides of the foil up over the beet and then fold them together. Crimp the short edges together to form the sealed packet. Roast different colored beets (i.e. red, ‘Golden’, or ‘Chioggia’) in separate packets.
Place the packets seam side up on a rimmed baking sheet and roast in a 400 degree F oven until the roots are fork tender (about 45 to 60 minutes depending on their size). Remove the beets from the oven and carefully open the steamy packets. Slip the skins off the roots when they are cool enough to handle. Chop or slice the beets. If working with multiple colors of beets always chop or slice ‘Golden’ or ‘Chioggia’ beets first. Set them aside, each in their own bowl, and then prepare the red beets. If serving the different colored beets together, wait until the last moment before assembling the dish.
11 Comments »