This weekend was my first visit to a farmer’s market for the season. I feel so at home yapping with growers of food, bakers of bread, collectors of honey. I asked one guy what weird cuts of meat he had left. He handed me a goat’s head, but I settled on a pig’s heart and tongue instead, but that’s another post entirely! Today, let’s talk beets.
Beets are in season from June to October and have many beautiful varieties and colors to choose from. They can be eaten raw (cut into fine julienne and tossed with balsamic vinegar, orange zest & sea salt is a delicious summer salad), juiced, boiled, steamed, or roasted. My preferred method is roasting as it keeps all the healthy nutrients in (unlike boiling that allows some of the good stuff to cook away) and roasting intensifies the beets natural sugars. Beets have the highest sugar content of all vegetables and that beet sugar is used in lots of places instead of high fructose corn syrup. I recently noticed beet sugar on a cranberry juice cocktail label. And you can eat the whole plant! The greens are delicious sauteed with pine nuts, golden raisins and lemons zest.
How To Roast Beets
1. Gather beets.
2. Cut the greens off the top of the beets, leaving about an inch intact. Reserve greens for another use.
3. Wash very well under cold running water. They do, after all, grow in dirt.
4. Place into an oven safe dish and add about 1/2″ of water.
5. Cover with foil and bake @ 400º until a knife goes easily through the biggest beet. Start testing at about 30 minutes.
6. When cooked through, remove from the oven, take the foil off and allow to cool.
7. Simply slip the skin, the furry roots and the green tops away. Slice into chunks or wedges and serve warm, room temperature, or cold.
Feel free to embellish these with anything you like. Citrus, balsamic, goat cheese, toasted nuts, and frisée are all classic partners for beets, but I love them warm with just some sea salt flakes. They’ll keep in the fridge in an airtight container for a few days.