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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Easy-Easier-Easiest: Beets

Fresh beets are such different creatures from the pickled beets you find in salad bars.  And a nice seasonal break from more ordinary root vegetables like potatoes and yams.

As you work with them, they will hemorrhage burgundy juice and can turn your cutting board, knives and sink into a veritable operating theater, so be prepared.  Moisturize everything permeable that the beets will contact (wood cutting boards and hands, particularly) so the dark juice doesn't stain quite so badly.  Wear vinyl or latex gloves for extra staining protection.  Warn family members not to be alarmed.

Easiest: Again, though roasting or grilling veggies may not seem like the easiest method of preparation, the fact that the recipe calls for virtually no ingredients beyond the fresh veg itself and requires no babysitting (especially if preparing a main dish using the same cooking method) earns it a gold star in my book. 

Roasted Beets
Makes 4 servings

1 lb. fresh beets
1 tbsp olive oil or walnut oil
1/2 tsp thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp balsamic or raspberry vinegar (optional)

Peel and chop beets into 1/2" chunks.  Toss with olive, thyme, salt and pepper and spread on a sheet pan.  Bake at 400F for 40-45 minutes, or grill in a foil packet for 50-60 minutes.  Toss finished beets with vinegar, if desired.

Easier: The tricky part of making chips is getting the beets cut thinly enough.  Once you've got a good thin slice though, the next hardest part is not scarfing them all down before you serve them. 

Beet Chips
Makes 4 servings

1 lb. fresh beets
1 tbsp olive oil
salt to taste

Peel beets and slice them as thinly as possible, preferably using a mandoline slicer.  Alternately, cut the beets in half if needed and slice using a food processor fitted with a slicing blade.

Toss slices with oil.  Lay slices in a single layer on a sheet pan or two.  Bake at 350F for about 30 minutes (more or less depending on how thinly you sliced), turning once.  Toss finished chips with salt, if desired.

(Microwaved beet chips here)
Easy: Just delicious.  A nice change-up on potato salad, especially for cold wintry days.  If you don't have an assortment of red-orange root veggies readily available, just use more of whichever ones you do have.

Warm Root Vegetable Salad
Makes 4 servings

1 large beet root, peeled and diced into 1/2" cubes
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2" slices
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced into 1/2" cubes
3 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp mustard

Bring a large pot of water to the boil.  Add beet cubes and boil 10 minutes.  Add carrots and boil 5 minutes.  Add sweet potato and boil 7 minutes.  Drain vegetables well.  Mix mayo and mustard in a bowl.  Toss vegetables in dressing to coat thoroughly and serve warm. Pin It

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