I didn’t get in a fight with a neighbor. I haven’t gotten into butchery. I haven’t killed the squirrels that are stealing my tomatoes.
No, I just ran out of latex gloves when I handled these beauties:
Being beet-stained isn’t a big deal. Wear an apron. Put on some gloves if you care about your manicure. The stains on your skin will wash away easily.
And beets are so delicious, so good for you, so worth it. Is there any other food so simply gorgeous? The warm crimson layers of just-roasted beets seem to glow from within.
Once you roast them, which involves nothing but wrapping them in foil and waiting, beets need very little else. The cooked skins slip off easily, you can quarter them right on the foil to keep from dirtying a cutting board, and they are so delicious right out of the oven that there’s no need for complicated preparations.
My favorite way to dress beets is with this simple balsamic vinaigrette. The toasted caraway seeds add a nice flavor note (and when else do you get to use caraway except in rye bread?) but they aren’t necessary if you don’t have any.
The balsamic vinegar is a knockout with the beets’ inherent sweetness. Serve them as a warm side dish or toss with red leaf lettuce for a quick salad.
If you use foil wisely, you’ll only dirty two dishes for these beets: a skillet for toasting the seeds and the bowl you serve them in.
Roasted Beets with Toasted Caraway and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Naturally sweet beets, still warm from the oven, are tossed with a sharp vinaigrette scented with caraway seeds. These bear no resemblance to insipid canned beets; if you’ve never roasted your own, you will be pleasantly surprised.
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Healthy Quick Cook
for roasting beets:
2 lbs. beets (8 or 9 small), scrubbed
1 Tbs. olive oil, approximate
2 tsp. caraway seeds, optional
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
kosher salt and black pepper
Preheat oven to 400F. Place a large piece of heavy-duty foil on a baking sheet. Place beets on one end and drizzle with oil. Fold foil over the top and roll/crimp the edges to seal.
Roast for one hour or until the beets yield very easily to a paring knife. (Very small beets may take less time.) Remove from oven, open foil, and allow to cool while you make the vinaigrette.
Heat a dry skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add caraway seeds and toast, swirling pan, until fragrant, about one minute. Do not burn. You don’t want the seeds to turn dark, only to become warm and fragrant.
In a large serving bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, caraway, salt, and pepper.
Use a paring knife to trim away the stem end of the beets. Use your fingers (or your knife) to lift away the skins. Use the foil as a work surface to avoid staining a cutting board. Cut the beets into quarters or sixths and toss into the vinaigrette. Adjust salt and pepper.
Serve warm or at room temperature.