Every Saturday my dad heads to the local farmers market and, if the season is right, comes home with a big bunch of beets, which he then scrubs clean, boils, quarters, and marinates in oil and vinegar. So by the time I show up in the morning we have a bowlful of beets for breakfast or lunch. Boiled beets are fine; the method is fast, energy efficient, and since the beets are so naturally strongly flavored, combined with the dressing, it works.
That said, over the years I can’t count the number of people who have tried to get me to roast beets instead of boiling them. They’ve insisted that roasted beets just taste better than boiled. I have roasted beets. Quite frankly, I haven’t been able to tell that big of a difference from boiled. Until now. Now I get it. These beets are great. The long roasting caramelizes the sugars in the beets adding all sorts of awesome flavor. The trick? Make sure the beets are wrapped in foil so they don’t dry out, and then forget to set the oven timer so you cook them 20 to 30 minutes longer than you think you should. By the time I took these beets out of the oven, they had roasted for an hour 45 minutes. There was so much caramelization the peels were like candy. They were a little harder to peel, but wow, so worth it.
The orange zest and balsamic glaze? Double wow. Like orange-y beet-y balsamic-y fireworks in your mouth. Watch out though, talk about high glycemic. These beets are addictive. Pace yourself. They will last for several days in the fridge.
- 2 pounds red beets, medium sized, scrubbed clean, green tops removed (see beet greens recipe for what to do with beet greens)
- Olive oil
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
- Freshly ground black pepper
1 Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil. Place the beets in the pan. Rub olive oil over the beets, and sprinkle with salt. Cover the beets with another sheet of aluminum foil. Roast for 1 to 2 hours, depending on the size of the beets and how old they are. After 1 hour, test every fifteen minutes by poking a beet with the tines of a fork. Once the fork tines go in easily, the beets are tender and cooked. Remove from the oven.
2 While the beets are cooling, prepare the balsamic glaze. In a small, shallow sauté pan, add the balsamic vinegar and sugar. Heat on high until the vinegar has reduced to a syrup consistency. Remove from heat.
3 After the beets have cooled for several minutes, but are still warm to the touch, peel off the outer skins and discard. Cut the beets into quarters or more, bite-sized pieces.
4 Place beets in a serving bowl. Pour balsamic glaze over the beets. Stir in grated orange zest, and add salt and pepper to taste.
Garnish with a little orange zest to serve.