Today, July 9th would have been my Dad’s 104th birthday, and so, in his honor I give you… roasted beets. (Just kidding. Dad really did not like beets one bit. As kids, we sometimes threatened to “hide” them in his mashed potatoes, thereby tricking him into eating beets, Ahhh kid-logic. It never occurred to us that the bright red beets might be quite visible in those creamy mash potatoes.)
Roasting beets can be a really messy prep. My modus operandi is generally to peel the beets before roasting which always resulted in a bit of a mess: stained hands, stained cutting boards, stained EVERYthing. Despite that inconvenience, I love the darn things, raw or cooked, and so I continued to put up with the messiness.
Recently I came across an easier and foolproof way to roast beets. Here’s it is:
- Preheat the oven to 400 Fahrenheit. (Also good is to oil a dutch oven with a lid – more cleanup but also more environmentally friendly)
- Scrub and trim the greens from the beet roots. Use the greens as you want – but make sure to scrub those beets well.
- Oil the beets (skin on) lightly and sprinkle with salt. I put a bit of olive oil on my hands and rub the outside of the beet.
- Wrap the beets in foil packet OR (see above) place in a single layer in the dutch oven with the lid on. The main idea here is to keep the beets in a single layer.
- Pop the pan into the preheated oven. If wrapping the beets in foil, putting them on a baking sheet makes it easier to pull in and out of the oven.
- Depending on the size of the beets, roasting can take 25 minutes (small beets) to an hour (larger beets). Check for doneness from time to time – they’re ready when you can stick a sharp knife through them with no resistance.
- Let the beets sit until they are cool enough to handle. I usually use a paper towel or sharp paring knife to slide the skins off the beets. (Your fingers could still sport that beautiful red color so wear gloves if you wish).
- Trim away any extra root or stem and slice them up (or leave whole and refrigerate for when you want to use them).
This recipe for Roasted Beet, Caraway, and Crème Frâiche Salad with Arugala, from Melissa Clark‘s Dinner in French (pictured above) is a great way to make an elegant salad with beets as the main character.