I’ve always loved beets. I had to work hard in order to win my husband over to the beet side. He used to say they tasted like dirt, which is ridiculous. (However, our friend Gwen says that carrots taste like wall, which is totally accurate.)
Canned beets are perfectly acceptable in an emergency, but there’s a HUGE difference between canned beets and freshly roasted beets. This isn’t like the difference between using freshly squeezed and bottled key lime juice for key lime pie (squeezing 50+ key limes SUCKS). This is like the difference between lightly steamed green beans and canned green beans. They might as well be a different vegetable. Beets are incredibly easy to roast and to store, and they last about five days in the fridge. This makes them an excellent candidate for a fridge salad, and can be a delicious instant side dish to any protein.
I prefer the golden beets if I can get them, because they’re a little less stain-y. I won’t lie, I’m not that into beet greens, and think it’s pretty wasteful of me to not use them. Sometimes Whole Foods will sell individual beets without the tops for a little more per pound but a lot less waste. I always pick those up if I can. When shopping for beets, do your best to purchase beets of the same (or at least comparable) size. This makes for more even cooking (uniformity of size is important for all cooking), so it’s worth taking the extra second or two to be choosy.
I prefer to roast beets in aluminum foil, the same way I roast garlic. This helps to keep cleanup easy and also helps to steam the beets during cool-down, making them easier to peel.
4 comparably sized beets, washed well (seriously, do you like to eat dirt?), trimmed of leafy tops
4 squares of aluminum foil
Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
Wrap each beet in the aluminum foil, drawing all of the corners up to make a little beet package. Roast (it’s just a fancy word for bake) the beets for about an hour at 375º. Check the beets by piercing them with a sharp knife. If it’s easy to pierce, it’s done.
Remove beets from the oven and let sit for at least ten minutes. If you’re going to store the beets, store them with the skins still on. You can peel them as you want them. To cut down on any potential finger staining, peel them under running water. The skin…comes right off.
Seriously, that’s it. It’s got to be one of the easiest root vegetables to make, and doesn’t require a lot of added flavor or seasoning to be delicious. Serve them simply, sliced with a drizzle of olive oil (and salt if you’re treating yourself), or cut them into cubes or wedges and toss with a lemon dressing.