When I grew up, beets came out of a can…and not the home canning type of can that was really a jar.  My mom loved them.  I don’t remember what anyone else in our family thought of them, but I hated them.

Consequently, most of my life I’ve been beet-resistant, if not downright anti-beet (except when dancing.)   Then one day, Bill and I went out to dinner with friends to Cleveland’s Little Italy at the unfortunately now-defunct restaurant called Battuto.  And Richard ordered a beet salad.

But these beets weren’t just red and they hadn’t come out of any can.  They were beautiful, a mix of red and vibrant orange.  I don’t remember what came with them, but when Richard offered all of us a sample, I screwed up my courage….OK, it wasn’t really that difficult, but it sounds good…and tried them.  Revelation!!  They were wonderful.  Beets had just hopped right onto my preferred veggie list.

I do, however, eschew boiled beets.  Sounded too much like the ones from day of yore, can or not.  Roasting is my cooking method of choice for beets.  It’s really quite easy, although you do appear to have become embroiled in a rather bloody murder by the time the skins are off.  Here’s what I do:

 Roasted beets

I like to use smaller beets because it takes less time for them to roast.  I have also cut larger beets in half.

Line a baking pan with foil (much less cleanup).   You can preheat the oven while preparing the beets or just put the beets in when ready, turn on the heat and allow a bit more time.

Cut off the bottom root and tops (save the green tops), scrub and dry (please–use paper towels because of the stain factor!!)  Put the beets on the foil in the baking pan and add a tablespoon or so of olive oil.  Roll the beets around until they’re covered with the oil.  Don’t worry about trying to get the skins off now; they’ll come off easily, if messily, once the beets are cooked.

Roast beets until a sharp knife slips easily into the largest beets.  Figure about an hour, but you can start checking earlier if you like.  Remove from the oven and let cool slightly unless you’re into burned fingers.

To remove the skins, I’ve used a knife, but have found that if I take a paper towel and rub the skin, it comes off easily, the towel takes a bit of the stain rather than my fingers and  it also provides a bit of protection from the heat.  Slice the beets, put them in a serving bowl, add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and toss gently.  Serve hot, warm or cold.  Instead of balsamic vinegar, you can use salt and pepper, but I like the vinegar.  The warm or cold beets are excellent on a salad, with some crumbled goat cheese, maybe some toasted pecans, some dried cranberries…

The problem I ran into every time I fixed beets was that I was throwing away all the greens and I knew that they were supposed to be good for you, just as the beets themselves are.   I’d just never looked up how to cook them, although I assumed it would be much like cooking any other green.  After perusing some recipes, here’s how I fixed them last night.

                Beet greens

First, clean the greens.  I swished them around in water in a dish pan several times.  How much washing you need to do just depends how dirty they are.  You could use a salad spinner to dry them, pat them dry with paper towels, or let them sit in the colander in the sink to dry.  Tear them into smaller pieces, maybe a couple of inches across.

Cut up some onion and garlic, the more the merrier as far as our family’s concerned.

Put a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a large pan.  When the oil’s hot, saute the onion/garlic mix for a few minutes, then add the greens.  Cook them, tossing periodically, until they’ve shrunk in size.  Add a bit of salt and pepper if you like and serve.

The greens got an “OK” from our younger daughter and both my husband and I really liked them.  I heated the leftovers up for breakfast this morning, putting them alongside scrambled eggs, tomatoes and bread/toast, with market-fresh strawberries as an accompaniment, for a delicious, nutritious meal.

So, with apologies to Michael Jackson (or not), just beat it to the market; then just beet it.

  1. Shira says:

    Roasted beets are the best! 🙂 I totally agree!