The truth came out last night.
No one in my family likes beets.
“But we plant them every year!” I cried. “You eat them!”
“No offense, Mama,” the little boy said, “but they’re not my favorite.”
“No offense, Susan,” the husband chimed in, “but they’re not mine, either.”
“I never liked them,” the big boy muttered. (Of course, he doesn’t like anything …)
Oh, beets, I feel so bad for you. You’re misunderstood. You’re maligned. You’ve been relegated to the compost heap by the men in my life — men who need the folate, Vitamin C and magnesium you so generously provide.
“Is it red beets you don’t like or all beets?” I asked.
The three didn’t miss a beat.
“All beets,” they said.
Well, that’s a shame. Because this year’s crop of golden beets is our best ever. I’m harvesting fist-size roots almost daily.
Golden beets have a mellower flavor than their red counterparts. They’re not so cloyingly sweet. Shaved or shredded raw, they give an earthy crunch to lettuce and noodle salads. Slicked with olive oil and roasted in an oven, they take on a silky, seductive, almost balsamic-like taste.
I feel so bad for you, beets. I had such plans for you. I was going to roast you and mix you with yogurt for a funky take on tzatziki. I was going to turn you into soup by pureeing you with chicken broth, sour cream and copious amounts of dill. I was going to layer you with sliced oranges and avocados for a refreshing salad; slice you into wedges and mix you in with roasted carrots and potatoes.
Of course, I can still do all that. I have friends who think you’re swell. They would love to dine on you for lunch — or find a little basket of you on their doorsteps.
Besides, if the men around here don’t appreciate you, who cares? I can still enjoy you.
After all, if they don’t eat you up, there’s that much more for me!
Golden Beet & Citrus Salad
- 4-5 medium-size beets, tops cut to 1 inch and scrubbed of dirt
- Olive oil
- Salt & pepper
- 2 oranges, peel and white pith removed, sliced into rounds
- Butter or red leaf lettuce
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice (squeezed from the discarded orange peel skins)
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- Half a small red onion, thinly sliced (optional)
- 1/4 cup sliced kalamata olives (optional)
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Place the cleaned beets on a piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle them generously with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Fold the foil around the beets to make a secure packet. Place the foil-wrapped beets in a shallow pan or rimmed baking sheet, and roast for 1 hour.
While the beets are roasting, tear the lettuce into bite-size pieces and place it on a serving platter. Make the vinaigrette by whisking together the orange juice and mustard. Slowly whisk in the olive oil, then season the dressing with salt and pepper. Set aside.
When the beets are done (they should be tender when pierced with a fork), carefully open the foil. (Steam will escape, and it’s hot!) Let the beets cool until you can handle them comfortably.
Peel the beets, removing the tops and the root ends as you go. (These should easily snap off; if not, cut them with a knife.) When all the beets are peeled, slice them into thin rounds.
Lay the beet rounds and orange rounds over the lettuce on your platter. Drizzle with vinaigrette. Sprinkle with red onion and kalamata olive slices if desired.