Spring is here, and that means my CSA is about to go beet-crazy. Huzzah! In anticipation of needing to have beet-ready recipes, I decided to take one for the team and do some early tinkering with nuggets of beety goodness. This recipe was inspired by the good people at Putney Farm, though I wanted something less brightly citrus and more heartily savory-umami. Besides, I have horseradish cheese in my fridge that I don’t want to go to waste. Of course I thought to pair horseradish, even in cheese form,w ith beets.
p.s. I wasn’t really taking one for the team; I just said that because I wanted you to think I was doing you a tremendous favor. Fact is, I liked it. A lot.
So. Here is what I used:
- Beets (I used three medium-sized beets)
- 1/4 teaspoon thyme
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Oil to drizzle on said beets for roasting
- 2-3 slices of horseradish cheese from the deli counter at your local supermarket
- 1 teaspoon fresh chives (or other herb you have on hand) for garnish
Annnnnd…that’s it. Entirely.
Really. This is easy. It just takes a little time.
So. Wash off your beets.
I’ve seen varying opinions of what to do with beets when you roast them (and yes, sure, I know boiling is an option…I guess…but honestly, people, why? It doesn’t take any less time and roasting is so much more yummy. But to each their own.) and I kind of can’t believe there’s so much debate. Cut off the greens. Cut off the roots. Some people peel them and trim them entirely beforehand, but whatever. Yes, beet juice will run into the roasting pan if you peel or cut them open while they’re raw. And?
Anyway. Drizzle some oil on them, then toss with thyme, salt and pepper.
And then cover your beets. Either use a pan with a lid or cover your pan with foil (that’s what I did). Put them in a preheated 400° oven and leave them alone for at least 40 minutes, maybe an hour depending on size and such. Mine cooked for about fifty minutes. In that meantime you could…read a book, maybe, or prepare the rest of your food. Take a nap. Whatever. The point is, you can’t rush beets. Nor should you want to. Because they are nutritional powerhouses, and good things take time. Patience, people.
You’ve reached the end of your beet roasting when a knife sinks into them like butter. Check the beets after forty minutes and if the knife meets resistance when you try to pierce them, put the foil back on and put said beets back in the oven. Give them another ten or fifteen minutes or so after that depending on how almost-done they felt. Once they have fully cooked, take them out of the oven to let them cool for a few minutes.
While they cool, get a baking sheet and lightly coat it with oil (rub it on or spray it, whatever works), turn on your broiler and boost the heat. My broiler tops out at 500° so that’s how high I hiked up the temperature. When you peel your beets you can choose to wear rubber gloves OR, of course, you can choose to not, which will dye your fingers red. That’s no big deal. A day later, my hands have returned to their normal flesh tone and I am none the worse for the experience. So. Peel, and cut into nice flat slices of beet about half an inch thick.
Next, take a few slices of that beautiful, tangy, slightly spicy horseradish cheese and just break them up to fit on top of your sliced beets.
And put those tasty veggies right in the broiler. Do not wander too far afield. Your oven is super-hot and it won’t take very long for the cheese to melt and bubble on top of your beets, and it won’t be too much longer until it blackens and burns and then all this? For naught. Ever vigilant! Stay in your kitchen, guard your beets. Chop your teaspoon of chives and keep them at the ready. When the cheese is browned and melted and gooey, take the beets out of the oven and hit them with the chives and another shot of fresh-ground pepper. Within a very few minutes you’ll have a dish that looks like this:
When we started to eat these, George started chuckling. “I feel like I’m eating a steak,” he said, as he cut into a beet that was dense and pungent and almost chewy. He wasn’t off base–those beets had some heft!
Serve this with some garlic and herb mashed potatoes and a nice fresh salad, because it’s all so good for you I can’t even stand it. Some people get ready for bikini season. I get ready for beet season. And you know? I’m just fine with that.