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Beat my Beets

November 15, 2011

Maybe everyone is just being polite. It’s hard to tell, because I don’t gush. But I do know that there are many other people who will tell you something you made is simply fantastic, even if it’s not.

My mother-in-law is one of those people.

In fact I recently took her to a local pizza shop that I thought looked promising. I had never been, and really wanted to see what they did with slices. Well, my mother-in-law loved it. She thought the pizza was just delicious. Me? Let’s just say I have no reason to ever return. But I’m a much tougher critic.

Still, it’s not just my mother-in-law who loves my beets. I served them to Albany Jane, and she spoke well of them. Plus recently I brought them to a potluck where they got rave reviews.

Regardless of whether you trust any of these people, my technique for cooking beets is super easy, and produces sweet, tender results every time. And that alone is worth sharing.

Currently there is still some fresh produce at our local farmers markets, but before too long that will change. And then, we’ll be left with beets. You know, and other winter storage crops.

Part of the trick of enjoying beets is buying small ones. I believe them to be more tender and sweet. Two inches in diameter is a good standard, but you want to try to choose beets of similar size. The downside to smaller beets is that you’ll need more of them. But that’s only a problem if you are trying to maneuver a vegetable peeler to remove their skin.

The technique I use solves that problem. No peeler is required.

Simply dump your beets into a deep, oven safe dish. I don’t even bother to wash them. Fill the bottom of the dish with a scant inch of water, and then seal it all in foil. This goes into a preheated 375-degree oven for about an hour: a little less for smaller beets, a bit more for larger ones.

Perhaps the technical description for this is oven-braised beets.

Let them cool off enough so that you can handle them under cold running water and the beet skins will easily slide away, leaving you with a crimson orb of sweet, earthy deliciousness.

I like to cool mine, slice them in wedges, and dress them simply with good extra-virgin olive oil and salt. For the potluck I got fancy and zested a Meyer lemon and then squeezed in some of its sweet-tart juice. Then I got extra fancy and topped the whole thing with very small crumbles of feta cheese.

See how easy that was.

Now I don’t want to hear anyone say they don’t like beets until they’ve tried making them like this with small, locally raised beets. Because regardless of what my mother-in-law says, they are delicious.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 15, 2011 10:11 am

    I LOVE beets. I prepare mine similarly and like to dress with olive oil, fresh orange juice, a little balsamic and S&P.
    My husband, however, thinks that they taste like dirt. Whatever.

  2. November 15, 2011 11:01 am

    My preferred method for beets is equally simple and stolen from Jaime Oliver. Cut stem from beet and place inside of foil. Crumble the foil up to create a bowl and season with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Roast in oven 450 F for 40 minutes or until soft (will be heavily dependent on size of beets and how many you pack into the foil.).

    I find that this method brings out the natural earthiness of the beet and plays well to the sweetness contained inside of them.

    And, of course, locally picked beets will perform the best; these are picked close to the perfect ripeness.

  3. Stevo permalink
    November 15, 2011 1:25 pm

    I love beets and like derryX, roast them in a foil pouch until tender. The same technique applies, simply run them under water and the skins slide right off. I like them with balsamic and goat cheese. They’re great with bitter greens as well. The bitterness of the greens contrasts nicely with the sweetness of the beets.

  4. November 15, 2011 5:23 pm

    I’d love to try your beets… ’cause I hate beets and think they taste like dirt. If I didn’t like yours, I’d know definitively that it’s the vegetable, not the preparation.

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