How to Roast Beets for Maximum Mojo

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Roasted beets with grapefuit and frisee

Forget cooking. It’s been chilly in my corner of the world. I’d like to crank the oven and just sit in my kitchen with a good book. Because honestly, I’m having a little trouble finding my Sippity Sup mojo lately. It seems to happen to me every year just after the rush of the holidays. It’s a bit like postpartum depression I imagine. Not that a food blog is like a baby. Oh wait, what am I saying? That’s exactly what a food blog is like. Because in order to thrive, a blog takes constant care and feeding.

So I’ve decided the drab weather is Los Angeles calls for something vibrant enough to get my mojo back in line. Roast beets can provide that vivid pop of color even in the dead of winter. Just the mojo-enhancing inspiration I need.  Besides, I like to roast beets. You can crank the oven on a cold day and get a lot of impact with very little effort. Roasting beets can be as simple as tossing them with olive oil, wrapping them in foil and sticking them in the oven. That’s exactly how I’ve done it for years. But is it the best way?

How to Roast Beets for Maximum Flavor

Sometime in our past we humans were digging around in the dirt looking for grubs and worms to eat when we hit upon the idea of eating roots. The world has been a better place ever since. There are many ways to enjoy these vegetables from the underworld, but roasting is just about my favorite. Roasting root vegetables, like beets, intensifies their flavors and brings out their distinctive, rustic charm. It actually amplifies their inherent richness and bolsters their sugars.

As I said it can be a very simple process. But the thing about simple foods is in order for them to succeed you need to be sure the simple method you choose is not just simply a short-cut, but rather the fast lane to perfection.

Lately, I’ve upped my game when I try and answer the question of how to roast beets by including simple aromatics like citrus peels, halved garlic cloves and herbs. I’ve also discovered that just a little bit of water in the pan helps cook the beets more evenly with steam heat.

Most importantly don’t just stick them in the oven and forget them. Add more water during the cooking process if needed. Beets will likely take from 40 to 60 minutes to cook properly. They’re finished cooking when they feel slightly resistant to pressure all the way through the vegetable. So make sure and poke them to the center before deciding they’re done.

Beets of different sizes and varieties may have different cooking times which means you need to be extra diligent. Even beets of different colors can cook at different rates. Start checking them about 40 minutes into the cooking process. If you wait too long, beets can begin to feel fluffy when poked which means they’re probably overcooked.

Lastly, roasted beets peel much easier than raw beets. Once the beets come out of the oven wait until they’re just cool enough to handle. Then slice off leaf end and push skins away using your thumbs. If it doesn’t easily strip off, the beets probably need more time in the oven. Try another 10 minutes.

So that how to roast beets for this simple Beets Salad with Grapefruit, Frisée and Minted Crème Fraîche. I can taste the mojo already. GREG

How to Roast Beets

Roasted Beet Salad with Grapefruit, Frisée and Minted Crème Fraîche

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 8Source Adapted from Naomi Pomeroy, Taste & TechniquePublished
Roasted Beet Salad with Grapefruit, Frisée and Minted Crème Fraîche

Ingredients

  • 3 pound medium beets, preferably a mix of colors
  • 6 clove whole garlic (halved crosswise)
  • 3 (½-inch wide) strips orange peel
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • salt (as needed for seasoning)
  • 3 teaspoon minced shallot
  • 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar (plus more for drizzling on roasted beets)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (plus more for drizzling on roasted beets)
  • freshly cracked black pepper (as needed for seasoning)
  • 2 grapefruits (pelled and cut into supreme segments)
  • 2 heads baby frisée
  • 1 cup minted crème fraîche (see recipe)
  • flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Remove the greens and scrub the beets well. Arrange the beets on a roasting pan large enough to hold them in a single layer and add the garlic cloves, orange peels, thyme, bay leaves, black peppercorns and water. Drizzle the mixture with ¼ cup olive oil and season generously with salt. Cover tightly with foil and bake up to 1 hour, or until the beets are tender (start checking at 40 minutes); transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet and let cool somewhat; discard the liquid and aromatics.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the shallot and vinegar. Whisk in extra-virgin olive oil; season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Set aside.

Peel and trim the beets and slice some of them into bite-sized wedges and some of them into rounds ¼ inch thick. Separate the beets by color to avoid discoloration. Drizzle beets with a little red wine vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil, tossing to coat. Set aside.

Strip away and discard the tough, darker green outer leaves of the frisée. Rinse and dry the remaining leaves well.

To serve: dress the frisée with half the prepared vinaigrette. On each of the plate spoon a dollop of minted crème fraîche. The use the back of the spoon to swoop into a gentle curve. Arrange the beets and grapefruits on top and tuck in the frisée in neat tufts. Drizzle a small amount of remaining vinaigrette onto the salad. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve.

Minted Crème Fraîche

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 10-12Source Inspired by Naomi Pomeroy, Taste & TechniquePublished
Minted Crème Fraîche

Ingredients

  • 2 cup loosely packed mint leaves
  • 1 cup crème fraîche
  • 2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoon minced shallots

Directions

Roughly chop the mint leaves. Add them, along with the crème fraîche, the vinegar, and zest to a blender. Season with a generous pinch of black pepper. Blend until smooth. Stir in shallots and serve. Can be covered and refrigerated up to 5 days before using.

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