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Beets, glorious Beets

April 12, 2007

Beets and wine

I love beets. I have strong, passionate feelings about beets. This is belied by the fact that I hardly ever cook them. It’s not that I’m afraid of the pink-dyed hands, or the pink-dyed sink, or pink-dyed anything, really. It’s not that they’re time consuming–I cook lots of time consuming things. It’s not that they’re unavailable–I always see beets at the market. I don’t really know why I never cook beets. I just don’t. Until this week. And I was reminded of my love once again, as I ate up my lovely pink-dyed salad today.

Roasting beets is actually ridiculously easy, and I have mostly mastered a tactic to keep my hands and other kitchen wares clean. And their flavor is so indescribably earthy and sexy and unique. Beets always make me think of Tom Robbins’s book Jitterbug Perfume. I know that the all-important scent in the book was actually derived from beet pollan and not the beets themselves, but I always imagine this perfume that smells as sweet and earthy as the juicy purple vegetable itself.

Of course, when eating beets, you have to be ok with whatever food you’re eating them with becoming a decidedly unnatural color. Pink fontina cheese and pink chickpeas are a little…unsettling, but if you can get over that, the nutrient-packed beets will reward you mightily. With good things. Like…vitamins. And…phyto…lyco…I don’t know. I could probably look that up, but that would require effort. I’m sure they’re really good for you because the more vibrantly colored your food is, the more good stuff is in it, or so I’ve heard.

Roasting them up is very easy. I’m sure there are tons of methods, but this is what I did to get pure, unadulterated beety flavor.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Cut the leafy stems off about an inch from the beet tops, and also cut the little funny beet tails off close to the beet. You can save the beet greens and saute them, like I did, but they are pretty bitter and not a taste I’ve acquired quite yet. Wash the beets off, and put them, whole, in a small, deep baking dish with about 1/2 a cup of water. Cover the dish tightly with tinfoil, and bake the beets for about 45 to 55 minutes, or until they’re soft enough for a knife to go all the way through easily. Let them cool off a bit before you try to do anything else.

Beets

Now you have to take the skins off, which is where everyone turns magenta. I avoided this by peeling said skins off under running water. Their skins slip right off, leaving smooth, slippery beets the most incredible color you’ve ever seen in foodstuffs. Then you can cut them into chunks, like I did, or slice them, and pretty much do anything you want with them. I usually just keep a bag in the refrigerator and add them to salads and whatnot. Sometime soon I think I’ll have to try making borscht.

Michael White of Fiamma recommends baking them over a bed of rock salt. I bet that’s awesome, but I just feel weird about using that much salt just to bake something on top of it. Has anyone tried this? Is it awesome? Should I get over my inclination to not waste stuff to do this?

However you roast beets, you should do it often. Way more often than I do. I should do it often. They are so good. So, so good. Oh happy beet-eating day. Yay.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 12, 2007 1:15 pm

    I’m planting beets this year so that I cook with them more often!

  2. ladynyo permalink
    November 25, 2009 5:15 pm

    Me, too!!! I L:OVE beets, and I love the canned variety.

    Neighbor just brought me some fresh beets with tops, and I can’t wait to boil them for Thanksgiving!

    I LOOOOOOVE BEETS!

    I will plant them babies next year for sure.

    Lady Nyo

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