Beets can't be beat, especially when oven-roasted
Lima beans, Brussels sprouts, beets. Growing up, those were a few of the dinnertime delights guaranteed to induce my gag reflex.
Funny thing, I now enjoy them all. I grew beets for the first time this year, and just harvested a crop of the lovely fuchsia-hued veggie. As a kid, my mother prepared them in a sticky hot glaze made with sugar and vinegar. I’m still not a fan of that particular recipe, preferring to oven-roast them instead.
There are plenty of other ways to enjoy beets, and it is good season for them, as Anna Pino of Massillon, Ohio, is finding out.
“I’ve had a lot of people drop off beets to me,” Pino said. “I love beets, but my husband’s not too crazy about them.”
Pino has kept plenty and regifted the surplus to her neighbor.
“I steam them and add them to salads,” she said. “My neighbor juices them. He says it’s good stuff.”
Pino also recommends an unusual beet dish similar to traditional potato salad.
“You mix cut-up, cooked green beans, boiled potatoes and steamed beets with a little mayo, then blend in cut-up hard-boiled eggs at the end,” she said. “We call it a Russian salad, and it’s delicious.”
Other beet fans are heading to the Pickin’ Patch in Marlboro Township, Ohio, where Bonnie and Dave Miller’s crop is doing great.
“Most people use them for pickled eggs,” said Bonnie. “Others say they just cook them and put butter on them.”
To cook fresh beets, cut off the leaves and stems, leaving about 1 inch of the root end. Wash, rinse and drain them until all traces of soil are removed. Use a small vegetable brush if necessary.
Place beets in a large heavy pan and cover with water. Bring just to a boil; reduce heat to medium, cover and cook until fork tender, approximately 25 to 30 minutes. Once cooked, the skin will slip right off. Use a paper towel or wear gloves to keep the beet juice from staining your hands. Cut the beets in slices and top with butter, salt and pepper.
To make simple pickled eggs, reserve the beet juice and let it cool. Mix equal parts beet juice, water, vinegar and sugar and pour into a jar, then adjust to your taste. Add peeled eggs, and within a few hours they will be dyed and flavored.
My favorite way to prepare beets is to oven-roast them. Spread 2-inch dices on a cookie sheet, drizzle with a tablespoon or two of olive oil until lightly coated, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in a 400-degree oven until tender, turning occasionally.
The Tabasco recipe featured here calls for oven-roasting the beets in foil, then adding to a salad with a spicy vinaigrette.
Even though beets are sweet by nature, a cup of raw beets has just 58 calories. They also a good source of fiber, folate and potassium, which contribute to a healthy heart. Beet juice has been shown to lower blood pressure and increase stamina.
ROASTED BEET SALAD WITH SPICY CITRUS VINAIGRETTE
- 10 small red beets (and/or golden beets)
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Tabasco pepper sauce
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cups baby lettuce greens, frisée or arugula
- 1 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup blue cheese or feta cheese, crumbled
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut off tops of beets; place beets on large sheet of foil on baking sheet. Close foil to seal tightly. Roast beets 45 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from oven; let beets steam for 10 minutes. Open pouch; cool beets.
Combine orange juice, vinegar, Tabasco sauce, honey and salt in small bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil until blended.
Remove skins from beets, when cool enough to handle, and cut into wedges. Toss beets with half of vinaigrette. Let stand 10 minutes to marinate.
Toss greens with remaining vinaigrette to serve. Place on serving platter. Top with beets; sprinkle with walnuts and crumbled cheese. Serves 6.