I haven't always had the best relationship with beets. Beets were on that very short list of foods that I disliked as a kid. When I saw beautiful bunched of multicolored beets at the farm stands here in New England, I decided I needed to revisit beets. I discovered that roasting brought out flavor I enjoyed, different from the beets of my youth. Until recently, my usual preparation was to peel and quarter the beets, and roast them in the oven with shallots, olive oil, salt and pepper. The sweetness of the beets worked will with the caramelized shallots.
More recently, I read a cookbook recipe by Rick Tramonto. He roasts the beets with their skin on wrapped in aluminum foil on a bed of kosher salt. Prepared this way you get the delicious flavors that come from roasting, without browning and discoloring. This is a great way to show off the fresh multicolored beets of summer. I serve them over a salad of beet greens and arugula, topped with a little goat cheese.
For the vinaigrette I like to use white balsamic vinegar. It has much of the rich sweetness of traditional balsamic vinegar, without the dark color. The beets are so vibrant and colorful that I prefer the dressing not to be dark. You could always use traditional white wine vinegar in its place.
3 – 4 candy striped beets, washed and greens removed, but not peeled
3 – 4 golden beets, washed and greens removed but not peeled
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 – 3 cups coarse kosher salt for roasting
1 minced shallot
1 teaspoon honey
2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar
Beet greens, cleaned and stems removed
Crumbled goat cheese
Salt and pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spread the coarse kosher salt in an even layer over the bottom of a small sheet tray or shallow roasting pan.
2. Toss the beets in a large bowl with the olive oil and lightly season with salt and pepper. Wrap each beet completely in a square of aluminum foil. Place the wrapped beets directly on the layer of salt, and roast in the oven until tender but still slightly firm, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
3. Once cooled, peel the beets. Cooked this way, you will find that the skin practically falls off, as with a blanched tomato. Slice the beets evenly into thick slices.
4. Make the vinaigrette by combining the shallot, honey and vinegar in a small bowl, then whisking in olive oil until it emulsifies and slightly thickens. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Toss the salad with half the vinaigrette and turn out on a serving plate. Layer the beets decoratively over the greens, and drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette. Scatter with crumbled goat cheese and serve.