I started roasting beets at home after working in a restaurant where having roasted beets were a staple. They were used often as one of the components to the many appetizer selections; adding color and texture and sweetness.
I love beets in any form: grated raw in a salad, boiled or cooked into a beet borsht. But by roasting, the high heat causes the natural sugars in the beets to caramelize which adds a dimension of extra flavor not otherwise found.
If your beets are really fresh with lovely beet leaves, don’t be too quick to discard them; they are delicious used in juice, sautéed as a side vegetable or added to a pasta or grain. And on top of that, they actually have more Vitamin A and C, Iron and Calcium than the actual beet.
ROASTED BEETS WITH FETA AND CILANTRO
Don’t be put off if you’re one of the many who aren’t partial to cilantro. You can easily substitute with fresh mint or basil or parsley. Tarragon will also pair nicely with the beets and feta.
3 large Beets
2-3 tbsp Olive Oil
1½ cups fresh Cilantro, chopped, or 1 cup of Mint, chopped
¾ cup Feta Cheese, crumbled into chunks
3-4 tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar*
½ tsp Kosher Salt
*if you are using Seasoned Rice Wine Vinegar (which is delicious!), do add salt to the beets before you roast them, but do not add any salt to the finished salad until you’ve had a taste.
Cut off the stem and the leaves. Wash the beets very well to remove any dirt since you’re roasting them with skin on and may choose to use the pan juices after roasting.
Cut them into quarters. Toss with 2 tbsp Olive Oil, kosher salt and pepper. Either wrap them in tin foil and place on a cookie sheet, or put them in a small pan and cover with tin foil, be sure to pour in all the oil and seasoning. Roast for 45-60 minutes, until knife tender.
Alternative Roasting Method: For faster roasting. Wash and peel beets. Cut them into ½ inch cubes. Toss them with olive oil and salt and pepper then put hem on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Roast for 20-30 minutes until knife tender and starting to darken — I know, how can you tell when the beets are already so dark?!! Well, it’s when they begin to brown along the edges. Allow the beets to cool slightly before adding the rest of the ingredients.
Add the feta cheese and gently toss again. If the beets are still warm then some of the cheese will melt slightly. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more vinegar or pepper — and at this time you may want salt if it hasn’t yet been added.
If you find the salad a touch dry, add a drizzle of olive oil. Another option is to add a generous squeeze of lemon juice.