January 24, 2011

beets vinaigrette

Beets are my favorite dirt candy. Roasting them whole, skin-on, is the way to go; it concentrates their sweet and earthy flavor and brings out the best in their texture. I roast a pound or two at a time in a 400-degree oven, drizzled lightly in olive oil and wrapped in aluminum foil (helps them cook evenly without drying out), for about an hour and a quarter. Once they've cooled, trim the stem and root ends; the skin slips right off, revealing garnet-colored interiors of silky, tender beet flesh. Beet roasting is a good activity for a lazy Sunday morning; they keep beautifully in the fridge, ready to be peeled as needed for meals throughout the week.

I like to treat beets very simply. A bright, mustardy vinaigrette with shallot and apple cider vinegar is a perfect counterpoint to their deep, earthy sweetness (a crumble of gorgonzola works, too). I've been crumbling walnuts over everything lately, and they were a good match here as well; their rich flavor, with its astringent edge, and of course their crunch, made the ideal finishing touch. I think even Dwight Schrute would approve.

roasted beets with mustard vinaigrette

1 lb beets
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 heaping teaspoon whole grain mustard (such as Maille)
1 small shallot, minced (about 1 Tbsp)
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
walnuts, coarsely crumbled

Preheat oven to 400F.

Drizzle 1 tsp of olive oil over the beets and mix to coat evenly. Wrap the beets in aluminum foil, place in a baking dish (to catch any juices that might escape as they cook), and roast for about 1 hour and 15 minutes until tender when pierced with a knife. I often leave them in the oven as it cools, for 20 to 30 minutes more, to help ensure they're all evenly cooked through.

To make the vinaigrette, in a small bowl whisk together the mustard, shallot, apple cider vinegar, a pinch of salt, and a grind or two of black pepper. Then slowly stream in the olive oil, whisking constantly to emulsify. Season to taste with more salt and pepper if needed.

When the beets are cool enough to handle, remove the stem and root ends and peel off their skins. Cut the beets into bite-size pieces, drizzle with vinaigrette, and top with walnuts.


  1. Beets are one of my favorites too. My mom made them pickled and served them often with roasted chicken on Sundays. She made hers with sugar, thinly sliced onions, vinegar, salt and pepper..let them marinate in the fridge for at least a few hours. I started growing beets more recently when I discovered, as you say, they are deliciously sweet when roasted.

  2. love oven roasting the beets too. But especially like the mustard and walnuts with the dirt candy..yum!

  3. Mmmmm, love the pickled beets idea. I should make some next time - thanks!

    thanks, Jessica!

  4. they are dirt candy, indeed! I roast beets in similar fashion, and love walnuts and gorgonzola crumbled over them. Your mustard vinaigrette is just the thing.

    on another note, I have been obsessed with making your parsnip-carrot soup and finally did! a blogworthy soup---many thanks for this inspiration.

  5. hi Nancy - isn't the walnut-beet-gorgonzola combination the best...I might have to pick up some gorgonzola to do just that with my remaining beets. I just saw your wonderful post on the soup - thank you for featuring it on your beautiful blog! I'm thrilled!

  6. Hello! I just discovered your blog through Nancy's at good food matters.
    I love beets. I just do, they're so sweet and earthy and versatile. Great idea of pairing them with this vinaigrette.

  7. Thanks, Magda! Your blog is lovely as well. I love Greek cooking and will definitely be trying some of your recipes!

  8. Simple but so delicious. I would sprinkle crumbled soft cheese as well over the salad. Yum!

  9. thanks, Jackie! Your blog is great, looking forward to exploring your recipes :)

  10. MMMMMM,..I also love raosted veggies like beets!

    This dressing sounds divine,..truly appetizing!
    I would add fresh sheep's ricotta to this tasty dish!