The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.
– Jitterbug Perfume (Tom Robbins)
I hate beets. Let me repeat. HATE.
Then I read the lyrical and altogether lovely Jitterbug Perfume and decided to give them a try. The whole book centers around the global quest for a mysterious perfume ingredient, which ends up being – you guessed it – beets. Seriously passionate people cannot resist beets (in this book) and since I am a seriously passionate person… well….
This sort of convoluted logic doesn’t convince my palate. Beets and I now have a love-hate relationship.
The knife twisted this morning at the Farmer’s Market when the beets started cat-calling me. “You want to love us…” they lamented. “Give us another chance. If anyone can make this relationship work, it’s you.” And so I let down my guard and let them hop into my basket.
You see, I have this little thing going on at the Wednesday Santa Monica Farmer’s Market. Every week, I pick something new that I haven’t cooked before and give it a whirl (because what fun is going to the Farmer’s Market without some sort of challenge? I know, I know, I need help).
I had never actually cooked beets before, just picked idly at them in restaurants. I figured if I roasted them and tossed them with a few of my favorite things (namely, mint, goat cheese & candied walnuts), they might actually have a shot.
Roasted Beets with Fresh Mint, Balsamic & Goat Cheese
- 7-8 medium beets (I used a mix of purple and chioggia beets), scrubbed thoroughly
- A little olive oil
- Salt & pepper
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup candied walnuts (I always keep a stock of the Trader Joe’s ones on hand, a must-have pantry item)
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint, plus more for garnish
- 1/2 cup (4 oz) goat cheese, crumbled
Roast the beets: Preheat the convection oven to 375 degrees F (normal oven 400 degrees F). Chop off the tail and the top greens of each beet, leaving the top of the beet intact. Rub with a little olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and wrap each beet individually in foil. Roast for about 45 minutes to 1 hour (less if the beets are small, more if they’re big) until tender when pierced with a fork. Let the beets cool slightly, then unwrap the foil. Using a paper towel for leverage, slough the skins off the beets – they should slide right off. Cut off the tops, then cut the beets into quarters (smaller beets) or eighths (larger beets) and place in a large bowl.
Make the dressing: in a small skillet, bring the balsamic vinegar to a simmer over medium heat. Cook until it’s reduced to a syrup and sticks to the back of a spoon, about 15-20 minutes. Pour the balsamic over the beets and toss gently. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil & the candied walnuts and toss gently again.
Season the beets with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with the fresh mint and goat cheese (don’t toss again, otherwise the goat cheese will turn pink from the beets). Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
Did this recipe convince me to like beets? No (OK maybe a little). Ours is an unrequited love, and I kinda like it that way.Pin It