Beet Time!

Well, first let me just say thank you to all who participated in our berry carnival for the most recent From Dirt To Dinner!

We’re essentially going to do a 180 now and go from an ingredient that virtually everyone loves to one that eludes and, for some, disgusts: THE BEET.

At this time last year I was still trying to figure out the beet. With each CSA delivery came a fresh bunch, and for several weeks I tortured myself with horrible recipes I’d found online that bordered on inedible. I was about to give up on the big burgundy bulb when a friend emailed me a supposedly “delicious” recipe for Herbed Goat Cheese, Roasted Beet, and Watercress Salad.

Now, obviously when you bread and bake goat cheese you are going to end up with something that is all kinds of wonderful, but here’s the thing - the beets are awesome, and it’s because they are ROASTED! Yes, the secret of the beet is simply to roast the sucker first.

Every beet recipe I have tried and enjoyed since then first involved roasting them whole. It’s very easy to do and makes all the difference, in my opinion. Simply wash and trim the greens down to about an inch and then wrap the beets in foil. Then you want to bake them on about 400 degrees for about an hour, give or take depending on the size, until they are tender.

Once that’s done you just let them cool until you can peel them, which is super-easy once they are cooked this way. Trim the root and the top off and then the peel just slides away.

peeling beets

Now you can slice them up however you want them to be and refrigerate them until you’re ready for ‘em.

And then you can wash your hands so it doesn’t look like you’ve had some kind of grotesque accident in the kitchen.

beet juice

They do pair wonderfully with goat cheese; there are lots and lots of recipes out there that couple the two for good reason, so that salad above remains a favorite for us. I’ve been known to add some toasted walnuts to it, making it a great entree if I do say so myself. And I almost never use watercress but instead whatever type of greens I happen to have.

I also found this very similar recipe with those breaded goat cheese medallions but with pasta and sauteed chard. (This seasonal produce guide on the Martha website is so helpful, by the way!) I happened to have a gorgeous bunch of  rainbow chard from the CSA along with my huge bunch of beets, so this is what I made last week.

pasta with roasted beets, goat cheese and chard

It was yummy.

Certainly you don’t want to eat medallions of baked goat cheese every single time you eat beets though, at least not if you are getting them from a CSA and are receiving them en masse every week. So it’s important to remember that once you know the secret of the beet - the ROASTING - then you can enjoy them easily and simply.

Alice Waters has a lovely Marinated Beet Salad recipe in The Art of Simple Food that just combines roasted beets (that’s right, Alice Waters roasts them first too, so I think we can officially accept this as The Word) sprinkled with some vinegar and salt and then tossed with a little olive oil.

And that makes for some great and easy beets, which really are a quite delicious vegetable, not something to just sort of “deal with” when it comes to you in your CSA share.

So, anyone else out there eating beets? Not from a can? If you’ve not yet tried them I really encourage you to give them a go. Just, you know, roast ‘em first. And feel free to share.

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