In my childhood household, beets were boiled and served vinegared, sort of as a pickle. I liked them fine but when I discovered roasting, I never went back! Roasting beets preserves the nutrients, seals in the sugars, makes it super easy to peel them, with clean up, a cinch. Just wash the beets, add a little olive oil and any herbs for flavoring, although not necessary, and cook at high temperatures. I always think beets are not a widely liked food but when I happen to offer a salad of roasted beets on a buffet table, I am always pleasantly surprised to see it vanish. This salad is really different with an interesting toasted whole seed cumin-shallot vinaigrette, well worth the time. I make it with tricolor beets when I can find them. This week candy-striped beets were not available at the market. It will become your beet loving friends’ new favorite, guaranteed!
ROASTED BEET SALAD with CUMIN VINAIGRETTE
2 bunches of red beets
2 bunches of golden beets
4 t olive oil
2 handfuls of fresh herbs, for roasting
Salad topping: 1/4 c pomegranate seeds and 2 T each, chopped mint, parsley and cilantro
Preheat oven to 425F. Cut off the greens but keep the stems and roots on the beets. Wash but don’t dry the beets. Keep the red beets separate from the golden beets to prevent them from bleeding and discoloring the goldens.
Cut 4 sheets of foil large enough to hold each type of beets. Double the foil for each packet and set the beets on the foil. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with about a teaspoon of sea salt, throw in whatever herbs you have around, seal the packets. Place the packets on a rimmed cookie sheet and roast for 60-90 minutes until beets are tender. Cool, then peel the beets, removing stems and roots, keeping the colors separated. Reserve.
1 t whole cumin seeds
1 t ground cumin
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 T champagne vinegar(Trader Joe’s Orange Muscat Champagne vinegar is my go to)
1 large shallot, finely chopped
2 T fresh thyme leaves
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 c olive oil
pinch of sea salt and
freshly ground pepper to taste
In a small dry skillet on medium heat, toast the cumin seeds until fragrant, ensuring they don’t burn. This will take a minute. Infuse the vinegar with all the ingredients except the oil, for 5 or more minutes. Whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion
Quarter the beets and set on a rectangular platter, keeping colors separated. Sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds. Drizzle with vinaigrette. Finish with the chopped mint, parsley and cilantro. Bliss!
Note: The beet greens make a nutritious side dish much like you would use spinach so don’t throw them out. They may be gritty so a triple wash, immersed in the sink may be necessary. Dry, chop coarsely, discarding tough stems and sauté in olive oil until wilted. Season with salt and pepper. When possible, choose organically grown beets!
( title image courtesy of google images via Lopez Island Kitchen Gardens)