Experimental Fridays – Roasted Beet(root)s

As a kid, I really loved canned beets or beetroot, as my British friends call them. I never really thought about what beets were, I just loved their sweetness and wonderful deep, deep purpley-maroon color. As an adult, I rediscovered my love of beets in an unexpected way. When I first moved to the Middle East (more than *gasp* 25 years ago) I had to be quite resourceful when it came to recreating my favorite foods. That meant learning to cook from scratch which is not necessarily a bad thing and discovering that the recipes just tasted SO much better than what I remembered! I don’t even remember if cooking my own beets was suggested to me or I just saw them in the produce section and decided to try it myself. In the beginning, I boiled them. Then I got a steamer and steamed them. Fresh IS best. I can NEVER go back to canned again! I would rather have no beets than eat canned ones. Just like I would rather have no coffee than drink instant or I would rather have no Coke than drink Pepsi; but I digress. This is about roasted beets, right?

Perusing through Ina Garten’s new cookbook, Foolproof,  I saw a recipe for Balsamic Roasted Beet Salad. Being the spontaneous, impulsive soul that I am, I put the prepared the beets and threw them into the oven and just assumed I had the rest I needed. Sigh…  I was wrong. I let the beets continue to cook; this salad would have to wait until I got more goat cheese. Two days ago I was cleaning out the fridge and there were the roasted beets still wrapped in their foil blankets. Out of sight; out of mind. Well, today I got locally made goat cheese and guess what I made this afternoon? Did the post title give it away?

 Ingredients

8 medium-size beets, tops removed and scrubbed – I used 2 largish ones
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup good olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, such as Grey Poupon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces baby arugula – I used mixed greens (including arugula/rocket) from our garden!
1/3 cup roasted, salted Marcona almonds, toasted – I used chopped walnuts
4 ounces soft goat cheese, such as Montrachet, crumbled
Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Wrap the beets individually in aluminum foil and place them on a sheet pan. Roast them for 50 minutes to 1 hour, depending on their size, until a small sharp knife inserted in the middle indicates that they are tender. Unwrap each beet and set aside for 10 minutes, until cool enough to handle. Peel the beets with a small, sharp knife over a piece of parchment paper to prevent staining your cutting board.

Meanwhile, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, mustard, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and set aside. While the beets are still warm, cut each one in half and then each half into 4 to 6 wedges and place them in a large mixing bowl. As you’re cutting the beets, toss them with half of the vinaigrette (warm beets absorb more vinaigrette), 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Taste for seasonings.

Place the arugula in a separate bowl and toss it with enough vinaigrette to moisten. Put the arugula on a serving platter and then arrange the beets, almonds, and goat cheese on top. Drizzle with additional vinaigrette, if desired, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve warm or at room temperature.

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