In his novel, Jitterbug Perfume, Tom Robins opens the book with high praise for the beet.
THE BEET IS THE MOST INTENSE of vegetables.
The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.
I was always a bit afraid of beets when I was growing up. Probably because they were pickled and cut into slices, served cold as a half assed garnish on a plate of otherwise delicious food at the local diner. At least that’s how I remember beets.
My perspective changed a few years ago, when beets started arriving in droves in my CSA share. I felt compelled to find a way to like them. I didn’t want to simply dump them right into the compost. That would be a waste and some kind of antithesis to the whole notion of the CSA.
So I started playing around with beets. My favorite way to prepare them is to roast them. Beets have a lot of sugar (you’ll even find beet sugar listed as an ingredient on all kinds of things if you look) and so they are great for roasting because the sugar will caramelize.
You can prepare this recipe in a roasting pan, or in foil on the grill. It is ridiculously easy but it produces a mighty tasty side dish that goes well with beef or pork in particular.
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
3 medium-sized beets, peeled and quartered
1 tbsp. olive oil
If your beets still have the greens in tact, remove them and save them for another side – they are edible and they taste great. Peel the beets and quarter them. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and toss to coat all sides of the beets.
For indoor, oven roasting, pre-heat the oven to 425 F. Place the beets in a baking dish and roast uncovered for approximately 45 minutes.
On the grill, you have two options, you can place the beets in a foil wrap and roast on a hot grill for about 45 minutes, or you can place them directly on the grill and roast them at a lower temperature. If you place them directly on the grill, you will need to attend to them frequently to prevent burning.