Many recipes for beets start out by roasting them, a simple technique that enhances their sweet earthiness. Some instruct to roast the beets wrapped in foil, but I find this makes it difficult to check on them during cooking. Instead, I roast them in a glass baking dish — the glass allows me to monitor their progress, while the lid makes it easy to check for doneness. I often roast more than I need in order to have them on hand for other meals, giving me the option of adding diced beets to a salad or slicing them to serve on their own. Once cooked, they may be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator where they will keep for up to a week.
Basic steps for roasting beets:
Wash beets, scrubbing off dirt. Leave the roots and whatever cut stems there are still attached; this helps prevent them from bleeding too much during roasting.
Place them in baking dish. Rub with a little cooking oil. If you like, sprinkle with some dried herbs. Add a splash of water to the baking dish, especially if using winter beets; this helps replace some of the moisture lost in storage. Cover dish with a lid or foil.
Roast in a preheated oven set between 375° to 400°F. Beets are done when easily pierced with the tip of a knife, 45 to 60 minutes, depending on size of beets.
Peel after cooling. To cool, leave dish covered. The skins should slip off easily, along with the stems and root end. Ready to eat as is or dressed up!
Roast beets can be enjoyed enhanced with only a sprinkling of sea salt. They also have a special affinity for certain flavors and ingredients. They’re often paired with goat cheese, but combine well with other strong-flavored cheeses such as roquefort and gorgonzola, cheddar, parmesan, and ricotta salata. Dressings made from sour cream, creme fraiche, or yogurt are more dairy options. Other classic pairings that accent the flavor of beets include combinations using shallots, red onions or chives; walnuts or hazelnuts; oranges and lemons; tarragon, dill, or mint; mustard and flavored vinegars.
Featured Vegetable at the Winter Farmers’ Market — Beets are the featured vegetable for the Seacoast Eat Local Winter Farmers’ Market in Exeter this Saturday, December 4. We’ll have more delicious beet recipes available — make sure to check at the information and vendors’ booths!