One beautiful summer morning, I was standing in my kitchen peeling beets when my roommate walked in and asked what I thought about getting a new couch. He had gone to IKEA the night before, and the couch he had been eyeing for months was finally on sale. The only catch: it was white. It was a giant, white couch. Now, the whole time we were talking, he was puttering around making coffee and not watching what I was doing. There was a certain poignancy to the moment when he looked at me, said the word “white”, and saw my hands and arms stained fuschia with day-glo beet juice.
And that’s the thing with beets. They’re sweet, delicious, and really good for you, but you better be prepared to clean up beet juice from places you never expected to find it. Beet juice is tricky that way.
The other thing is that they take a while to cook. Some people swear by boiling, but I prefer to roast them in the oven. It helps if all the beets are approximately the same size, of course. Scrub them gently, remove any parts that are really muddy or dirty, and put them in a baking dish with about an inch of water. Cover the dish and roast them at 350F. Small beets will take about 45 minutes, medium beets about 60 minutes, and large beets about 75 minutes. They’re done when you can poke a paring knife in them without too much resistance. Let them cool to room temperature, and then you can slip the skins off without too much trouble. (You probably want to wear gloves while removing the skins, unless you like having fuschia hands.)
I’ll usually roast a few of them and eat them over the next few days. My current favourite is to toss arugula with extra virgin olive oil, aged balsamic vinegar, coarse sea salt and peppper. Arrange beet wedges on top, garnish with goat’s cheese, and you have a salad that’ll wow you and whoever is lucky enough to be eating with you.
I also make a beet and orange salad, which is really easy. Make an orange vinaigrette using orange juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, and toss it with the beets. Garnish with orange slices and some parsley for a tasty, easy dish.
We ended up getting a brown couch.