January 24, 2011
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.