Friday, April 1, 2011

Roasted Beet Salad to Love

When I was a kid, I remember my mom going crazy for pickled beets. Eeew. If you read the blog, you'll know I'm not a huge pickle fan in general, and pickled beets seemed a thousand times worse than that.

I hadn't given fresh beets until recently. I saw someone preparing them and they just looked so good that I had to try them myself. Even if you think you don't like beets, I'd give these beets a try. I still don't want them at every meal, but they are a nice, sweet touch to a weeknight dinner.

To get as much flavor out of my beets as possible (and to keep my kitchen as clean as possible!) I roasted them. The first thing I did was trim them up and give them a quick rinse in the sink. They'll be peeled later so don't be too concerned about the skin looking dirty, but you do want to get off any sand or dirt particles.

You could save the tops for a salad or for sauteed greens.

I laid down a double layer of tinfoil (just in case! Don't want beet juice everywhere.) The beets got a sluice of olive oil.

The trim and rinse really makes them look much tastier already.
Then they got some salt and pepper.

Then I wrapped the tinfoil up into a little package and popped it into a 425F oven for about an hour.

After the hour is up, carefully open your package. There should be some perfectly roasted beets inside!

You do want to peel them at some point. You could do it now, or you could do it later. I was eating the beets the next day, so I put them, unpeeled, in a bowl in the fridge, and had no problem peeling them the next day.

If you're having a little trouble or the beets have some rough patches, run the edge of a regular soup spoon over the surface of the beet and then rinse underwater. The rest of the peel should off with no problem.

Like my fingernail? I was working on a book about fingernail art a few days prior and don't appear to own any nail polish remover.

Oh, and while we're on the subject of fingers, try to peel the beets quickly! They stain and you'll have beet-colored fingers if you touch them too long. My fingers don't look too bad here, but I think it was just the light, because I checked them out later in the evening and it looked like I'd been giving my fingerprints down at the police station.

If you really want to avoid beet-stained hands, a la Dwight Schrute, I'd recommend using plastic gloves. Paper towels would probably even work; maybe moisten them a little so the paper towels stay together a little, and rub. I saw someone on the Internet say to use a kitchen towel to rub the beet skin off. They must not like their kitchen towels very much. Or they use black towels in the kitchen.

Some peeled beets.

Unfortunately, my first thought when photographing these was, "They sort of look like Rocky Mountain oysters." Maybe that's why they're not a popular veggie!

Slice your beets thin. If you like them very thin or very uniform, you could use a mandoline.

That's one thing I've learned. When introducing friends or family to a new vegetable (especially one with a bad reputation, like brussels sprouts), it works well to slice them thin. That way, they can take a small bite and not have to chew their way through a whole piece of whatever vegetable it is.

If you don't have (or don't want to dirty) a mandoline, you can slice your beets on a cutting board. You'll get the job done but you'll look like you murdered someone in the process.

Finely mince some garlic. I only served two beets, so I used half a garlic clove.

Sprinkle your sliced beets with the garlic, and give them a drizzle of olive oil.

Follow up with a touch of vinegar. I used champagne vinegar, but sherry, red wine, or even white balsamic would be fine. Any kind of light vinegar will do.

A little salt and pepper, and you've got yourself a nice, light, fresh appetizer to go with your meal. These really didn't taste "beet-y" at all. They gave you a nice, tart start with the vinegar, and then moved onto a fresh, sweet flavor that was just mildly beetlike. Then the garlic took over with its sharp bite, which got the palate ready for another bite of beet. A little parsley or cilantro on top would really have finished them off, I think. I really quite enjoyed them. I promise that you'll like them, too!

Recipe: Roasted Beet Salad to Love
3 beets
olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 garlic clove, finely minced
2 tsp. olive oil
2 tsp. vinegar (any light kind; champagne, sherry, etc.)
salt and pepper, to taste

Trim ends and greens off beets; rinse to clean. Pat dry. Place on a double layer of tinfoil. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Roast beets at 425F for an hour. Let cool and then peel.

Slice beets thinly. Sprinkle with minced garlic clove, olive oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper. Let stand 5-10 minutes to allow flavors to meld, and then serve.

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