If you hate beets, it could be because you've never had them prepared in an agreeable-enough way. (Same goes for Brussels sprouts, but more on those later.) Or maybe you're put off by their appearance. Roasted beets, as opposed to boiled or pickled beets, are really something special. They possess a sweet, earthy taste that doesn't compare with that of any other vegetable, and they are loaded with nutrients. They are, however, ugly. But fortunately, their ugliness is only skin deep ~ they're positively jewel-like on the inside.
Roasting beets couldn't be easier, and once you've roasted them, you can use them in any number of dishes. This salad, which balances the sweetness of the tender beets against the pungent saltiness of blue cheese and the crunch of toasted pecans comes together in a snap if you have a couple of roasted beets in your fridge. I roast three or four and then use them over the course of a few days.
To Roast the Beets:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Scrub beets and trim pointy root end. Brush beets with oil and place in a ceramic casserole dish or baking pan. Cover with foil and bake about 60 to 90 minutes, until a knife passes easily through the thickest beet at its center. You can bake large and small beets together, but test the small beets for doneness before the larger ones.
- Let cool till you can handle, then peel. If you won't be using right away, let cool completely and wrap in foil with the peel intact. Refrigerate until you are ready to use, then peel. It's much easier to peel a beet after it's been roasted than beforehand.
Roasted Beet Salad with Blue Cheese and Pecans
This salad is scalable to serve as many or as few as you need. No set amounts are given because your personal taste will guide how much of each ingredient to use. Plan on two good-size beets for 4 people.
- 2 medium beets, scrubbed and trimmed
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Balsamic vinegar
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Blue cheese crumbles
- Chopped toasted pecans
- Bibb lettuce leaves (optional)
- Roast the beets until tender; allow to cool enough to handle; then peel and cut into bite-size chunks. Place beets in medium mixing bowl.
- Drizzle beets with olive oil and sprinkle sparingly with balsamic vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss gently to coat.
- Sprinkle blue cheese crumbles and toasted pecans over beets; serve on lettuce leaves.
Makes about 4 servings.
- Feel free to substitute crumbled goat cheese for the blue cheese. If you do, you might want to add 1/2 teaspoon orange zest along with the salt and pepper. Beets and goat cheese match very nicely with orange.
- Don't toss the salad once you add the cheese ~ if you do, you'll end up with bright pink cheese crumbles. On the other hand, if you plan on consuming the entire bowl of salad by yourself and like a really integrated salad, go right ahead. (I'm not ashamed to admit that I went down this particular path. Okay, a little ashamed.)