Just reading the words “Roasted Beets” probably makes you cringe. Possibly think of your grandmother, and those weird things that she served with dinners, most likely out of a can. We never ate beets growing up, and I’ll admit, they scared me. My grandmother served the ones from a can, a Stop & Shop style can, I shutter just thinking about it now. They had this prune like stigma about them, I thought they were “icky.” Then one day, I was working one of my weekend jobs at a Gourmet Market in Northern New Jersey; the “hot foods chef” made roasted beets, and my life changed forever….ok, perhaps that’s a bit dramatic….
I couldn’t believe my eyes. The store’s target market was overly rich Jersey folk; mainly people who had nannies and worked in the city, or had retired to “the country” (yes I’m talking about Jersey) after making tons of money in the city, and “housewives” who neither took care of their houses or were good wives, so serving what I considered to be mushy tasteless “grandma food” was a shock. Scott (the chef) told me to try a piece, and I did; I fell in love right there! It had olive oil, salt and pepper on it, and while I loved it, I wanted to try the beets completely naked. I don’t know why, they were delicious, but somehow, I felt like they needed to be stripped down.
They tasted like they were on the cusp of greatness, almost there but not quite. He insisted they were exactly as they should be (of course) but I wanted to roast them more, one of my weird little “I just think so” kinda things. So before I made the drive back to NY for the night, I picked up a few bunches of beets, and a bottle of wine, then went home to “experiment.” I tried it a little differently then they did at the market. They baked them on a sheet pan, I put each beet in its own parchment paper packet. I figured it would retain more moisture that way, and essentially steam the skin for easy removal as a carrot or potato would. I used nothing on the beets, nothing at all, just washed and “tucked in” the packets. And I “overbaked” them, this made them ultra sweet, but they retain their texture and aren’t mushy, just flavorful and delicious. I’ve been making beets this way for several (I’m not going to age myself) years now, and I am still in awe of the deliciousness.
Of course sometimes I add things like Goat Cheese, or put them in a salad, or (and this is very rare) serve them hot with butter, but I really can’t imagine a more simple and delicious way to enjoy them. For this instance, I built a salad around them and it was delicious. Have you tried beets? What do you serve them with or in?
- Preheat the oven to 375degrees
- Trim the greens/tops off the beats at the base of the greens
- Wash/scrub beets removing any dirt/debris that may be there (donn’t worry about bruises or cuts, you’ll get it later
- Cut/rip a sheet of parchment for each beet
- To make the packet, place a beet in the center of the parchment sheet, take the top and bottom of the parchment and bring them up to meet each other, thus cradling the beet, and then fold down together, interlocking with each fold until you reach the beet
- Take the sides and for each side, roll up and in, crimping with each overlap, until you reach the beet. Repeat for each side.
- Place all your little packets of deliciousness on a sheet pan or directly on the oven rack, and bake for an hour and a half, for medium-sized beets. Small beets 45minutes, large beets, 2 hours.
- When they are done the bottom of the packet will be full of color from the beets, but don’t worry, they will still be juicy.
- With the packets still closed, let them cool for about 15 minutes. Then open and peel. Either by rubbing the skin off with your fingers, or use a pairing knife. Either way your hands will get stained, have no fear, it washes off. Yes, it’s an awfully long time, but it’s well worth it. Trust me.
PS: I have one disclaimer…..if you eat a lot of beets, a sizeable amount in one sitting, you will notice a change in your ummmmm, hmmmmm how I do I say this politely??? Well, let’s just say you will be seeing pink, ehem umm more like fuscia, where you never thought possible. Have no fear, it’s perfectly natural, thats what happens when you eat your vegetables (well when you eat your beets hehehehehe)