Sensual, Earthy Roasted Beets

Part I

My first experience wasn’t so great…

Mushy, deep red-purple, they stain the white Corningware bowl a bright pink.  Sitting there in a pool of iridescent melted butter.  How could the crimson contents inside a small salad bowl cause a young child such dread!  And how could the voice of ones’ own sweet mother invoke so much panic as she utters Tonight your father and I would like you to try your beets.

Oh no!  I’d managed to avoid these horrible roots many, many times but this dinner was going to be different.  My parents had had enough of my avoidance and outright disgust of the red, red, red! bleeding all over my plate.  It wasn’t even Halloween and I was not in the mood to pretend I was a starving vampire.  Eat your beets.  C’mon.  Let’s go.  Chop! Chop! 

I needed to stall them.  Katherine, you will sit at this table until you try them.  Oh I just needed one more minute to figure out if they were bluffing!  How far were we going to go with the game this time – before they’d fold and walk away in shame?  I shook my head back and forth real slow as I stared at my plate, leftover bits of meatloaf beginning to crust.

My father gently pushed his chair back from the table.  I could feel frost begin to stick to my eyelashes from the coldness of his stare.  I would not look up.   I knew by his silence they were clearly in this together.  It was all planned.  She’d work me over until my spirit was weakened and then Dad would come in and say See that wasn’t so bad.  You got your mother all upset for nothing.

As I grew more mature, I learned to take my time….

If you’re like me and have only experienced beets dropped out of a can, then this recipe may make you too a beet lover.

To Prepare

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • Figure one medium-size beet per person.
  • First cut off the green tops leaving an inch of stem attached (later on, you can rinse these, chop and saute with a little garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper).
  • Cut off the tapering root (the tail).
  • Wash and scrub with a vegetable brush under running water to remove loose soil.

To Roast

  • Line a baking pan with aluminum foil and set the beets on the foil.
  • Into the oven for about 1-1 1/2 hours.
  • The beets are done when they are soft to the touch and when you gently give a squeeze and the skins collapse (an indication the beets have shrunk away from the skins).
  • Allow them to cool for 15 minutes.  Then peel the skin away by pulling back a little bit of the flesh from where the inch of stem was left.  This opens up the skin and you can peel the rest easily.

Note:  Do I really have to tell you to be careful when testing the doneness of the beets and/or peeling them?  Hot! Hot! Hot! (By the way, I am told my very first word was Hot!  Why didn’t I go to culinary school?  Why? Why?  The signs were there!)

And finally, saute

  • Slice your beets into 1/4 inch rounds.
  • Warm a saute pan on the stove.  When it’s hot, add a pat of butter, then swirl the beets around until they are shiny and sexy.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe from The Organic Cook’s Bible – How to Select and Cook the Best Ingredients on the Market by Jeff Cox

Part II is on the way: Leftover beets for lunch!

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