Beets have been one of those vegetables, like peas, that I have let my childhood memories taint my opinion of. My Oma served me pickled beets when I was younger, and I was not impressed and shunned them after that. It was not until I ordered roasted root vegetables at a restaurant and the server brought out beets and sweet potatoes that I worked up the courage to try them again. Tentatively I took a small bite and I was pleasantly surprised. A little sweet, a little tangy, maybe a hint of earthiness but, so much better then I remember.
Beets are making a strong comeback in the farm-to-fork communities. They are easy to grow and do not take up much room. Another factor making them popular is their nutritional value. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and dietary fiber. They do double duty as well. The tops can be added to salads as greens and the roots can be used in dishes that would traditionally include potatoes.
I have found, through trial and error, that the taste of beets depends on how they are cooked. I prefer to roast them which helps to bring out their sweetness reducing the earthiness that is associated with beets. I also prefer the tender, yet crunchy, texture of the roasted beet. For other ways to cook beets read “The Dirt on Beets”.
For the salad of the week, I am making a roasted beet salad.
Preheat oven to 400°. Attach a spiral blade to a mixer. To prevent stained fingers always wear a pair of disposal rubber gloves when working with beets. Spiral three to four beetroots.
Line a cooking sheet with foil and spray with cooking oil. Arrange the beets in rounded heaps on the sheet.
Lightly salt and pepper, to taste. Spray, or brush, olive oil over beets to give it a nice browning when roasted. Bake in a 400° oven for 10-15 minutes, or until lightly toasted but still crispy. Take out of the oven and let cool.
On a salad plate, place a serving of butter, or red leaf, lettuce. Layer spiraled roasted beets on top on lettuce. Serve with a creamy goat cheese dressing and toasted pepitas.
Ready to give beets another try? Let me know what you think.
Note: Goat cheese, well it takes a sophisticated palate to really appreciate it. I admittedly still struggle with its strong aftertaste. If you prefer you may substitute the goat cheese with another soft, creamy cheese that is low in fat. Try ricotta, mascarpone, or maybe a nice farmers cheese. It won’t have as hearty of a taste but, the texture of the cheese is similar. – Ella
Creamy Goat Cheese Dressing
6.5 oz. goat cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup half and half
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tablespoon basil, chopped
Mash the goat cheese in a bowl breaking it up as you mash. Add sour cream and blend until smooth. Salt and pepper, to taste. Add the half and half a little at a time whisking after each addition until smooth and creamy to your liking. Mix in fresh chopped basil.