Roasted and Marinated Beets by themselves, as stars in a salad with goat cheese and walnuts or as a side vegetable with polenta or other grains are great ways to enjoy beet’s vibrant purple-crimson color, earthy-sweet taste, smooth texture and nutrition. During the winter months, it can be a challenge to eat a balance of both raw and cooked foods. That beets survive well in cold storage and are available year round make them a delicious and healthy addition (both raw and cooked) to winter meals—which is why beets in the winter may be best of all!
Beets can be intimidating
Don’t let beet’s rough skin and rugged exterior intimidate you—they are easily tamed after a stint in a 400 degree oven. You may also have heard that beets stain everything they contact from walls to clothing. This isn’t completely true as cutting boards, counters, walls and hands if washed immediately, easily come clean. Not quite the same for clothing, though Spray ‘n Wash works wonders.
If you already love beets then you know they are worth the effort, as home-cooked beets are so much better in both texture and flavor than the ubiquitous canned beets. If you don’t think you like beets, try roasting them—you may be surprised. (Though, there are definitely people who don’t like beets, no matter how they are prepared. May you not be so unfortunate as to be one of them.) 😉
When choosing beets, those less than 2 inches in diameter are the most tender and usually the tastiest as well. When possible choose beets with firm, smooth skin and their greens still intact—a sure sign of freshness. Sauté the greens (stems and leaves) within a few days of purchasing them. The beets themselves (the bulbous root of the plant) will keep for 2-4 weeks in the fridge. Wash beets thoroughly but gently, trying not to tear the skin, in order to keep the beets from “bleeding” while they cook.
Roasting beets, my favorite way of cooking them, concentrates and intensifies their flavor and softens their crisp texture. That same crispness in raw beets is a boon when grated into salads.
- Wash and trim the tops and bottoms of two pounds of small to medium-sized beets. Halve or quarter large beets.
- Place them in a glass or ceramic baking dish with ¼ inch of water and a tablespoon of olive oil. Cover tightly with foil.
- Bake the beets in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 75 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork.
- Remove the beets from the oven. Peel the beets when they are cool enough to handle. Note: when beets are young, their skins are very tender and don’t really need peeling, unless you want to.
- Cut each beet into 8-16 wedges, depending upon their size. Toss the roasted beets with the Mustard Shallot Vinaigrette while they are still warm.
Mustard Shallot Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon whole grain or Dijon-style mustard
1½ tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar (light)
½ tablespoon white wine vinegar
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot thinly sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Whisk the mustard and vinegars together. Continue whisking as you gradually add the olive oil. Stir in the thinly sliced shallot and add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Marinate the beets a few hours or overnight. Or serve them while still warm over baked polenta rounds with a light salad or some sautéed beet greens, Swiss chard or spinach on the side.
For a change of taste, replace the goat cheese with crumbled blue cheese or feta, and/or the walnuts with toasted hazelnuts, pecans or slivered almonds.
Makes 4-6 servings
½ cup walnuts
2 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1/3 pound spring greens
1 tablespoon Seasoned Lite Rice Vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or walnut oil
Salt and Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 pound Roasted & Marinated Beets
1/3 cup crumbled fresh goat cheese
Toast ½ cup of walnuts at 350 degrees for 7 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Toss the thinly sliced scallions with the spring greens, vinegar and oil and salt and pepper to taste. Arrange roasted, marinated and sliced beets on top of the greens along with the crumbled fresh goat cheese and toasted walnuts.
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