Before you shiver with repulsion and say, “Oh, no, NOT beets! I hate beets!,” I should admit that not that many years ago, I, too, responded the same way. I mean, I definitely don’t like the beets my grandmother used to make and eat.
I do not like pickled beets.
I do not like boiled-to-death beets.
And I am utterly disgusted by even the thought of canned beets.
If you agree, then I beseech you to give me (and beets) a chance to change both your mind and palate.
The truth is that I do LOVE the marvelously modern way to prepare beets…roasting. Something magical happens when you roast a beet in the oven. It brings the sweetness out and balances the earthy-taste, which is often what people don’t like.
On the nutritional side, beets are loaded with fiber as well as vitamins A, B1, B2, B6 and C. They also help to purify the blood and are an excellent source of folic acid, calcium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, sodium and iron. And while I won’t bore you the additional health benefits of beets, they are numerous.
If you live in San Antonio and need some help jumping into the land of beets, I encourage you to go to Tre Trattoria and have the roasted beets. It’s a small vegetable plate and they will help reform you from beet-hater to beet-lover. (I also highly recommend the small plate of shaved fennel, endive, grapefruit and pistachio.)
Jason Dady is the chef-owner of Tre and four other local restaurants, and he roasts the beets (using either golden or candy cane beets) and then tosses them with fresh herbs (parsley, basil, thyme and tarragon), coarse salt crystals and EVOO…these beets are sweet, cooked to perfection (neither mushy nor hard) and utterly divine.
Even my husband who used to not like beets loves Tre’s beets, as well as the incredible beet salad I am going to share with you, which is actually the beet dish that changed his mind about beets. This beet salad pairs perfectly with a grass-fed beef steak or grilled meat of your choice. So when he’s hankerin’ for a steak, this salad is often times what he requests I make to accompany his perfectly charred animal.
Yesterday was the first day of winter which means that root vegetables are in peak season—turnips, beets, kohlrabi, parsnips, potatoes and rutabagas—so it’s a perfect time to try this salad, which I trust will completely change your mind about beets, too.
Beet, Celery and Goat Cheese Salad
- 4 golden or red beets with greens attached trimmed and cleaned
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- Sea salt as needed
- 3-4 tablespoons EVOO depending on how acidy or oily you like your dressing, plus extra for sprinkling on raw beets
- Juice of 1 large lemon
- 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar I use white wine vinegar
- 1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2-3 stalks of organic celery and the celery heart cleaned, trimmed and cut thinly on the diagonal
- 4 ounces goat cheese At Central Market, I bought a locally made goat cheese by CheesyGirl in Sealy, Texas, and it is delicious
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the beets by trimming the stems down to ¼ inch and save the nice, young, small beet leaves. (Leave a portion of the stem attached during the roasting process to retain moisture and avoid excess bleeding of color.) Wash the beets removing any grit and dirt. Trim the bottom “tail” of the beets. Toss the beets with thyme sprigs, sea salt and a drizzle of EVOO.
Wrap in foil, place on a cookie sheet and roast until tender when pierced—about an hour and a half, or it could be less, depending on the size of the beets. Open the foil package and let the beets cool a bit.
While the beets are cooking, select the smaller, more tender beet leaves and remove them from the stems. Wash and blanch in boiling water. Shock the greens in ice cold water, drain (using paper towels to squeeze the excess), chop, and refrigerate. (The other option is to chiffonade the greens and leave them raw.)
Once the beets are ready and slightly cooled, carefully remove the skin using paper towels, as this prevents you from getting “crime scene” hands.
Cut the ends off and slice into rounds. (I put the beets on the serving plate and them place it in the fridge for a half hour or so to chill them.)
Whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, and salt and pepper in medium bowl and slowly drizzle in the EVOO as you continue whisking to emulsify the dressing.
When ready to serve the salad, place the beet rounds on a large plate (if serving family-style) or four individual salad plates. Sprinkle the celery slices around, crumble the goat cheese on top and then dot the blanched (or raw) greens all over. Spoon the dressing generously over the salad, top with a grind of fresh black pepper, a light sprinkle of Maldon salt and serve.