Family Recipes: Roasted Beets in Balsamic Vinaigrette

This one is for Kristin.


Beets “bleed,” so to keep the juices in while they cook, leave on the skins, the roots on the bottom, and at least an inch of the green stems. It’s especially pretty to cook both red and yellow beets. You don’t want the colors to bleed on to each other, so you may want to cook and handle them separately. After they’re cooked, peel the beets over a bowl, since beet juice stains are nearly impossible to remove from wood or plastic surfaces. Expect that your hands will be stained. (Never, ever let a child help while wearing white without an apron. Just sayin'. I found these pictures on my computer. They're fairly old. I have no idea what I was thinking that day.)

This makes enough for a summer side dish for 4 people. Toss with toasted pecans and crumbled goat cheese.
Roasted beets are really good in a salad of mixed greens; the marinade makes a salad dressing.
8 medium beets (about 2 pounds total)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, to taste
1 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Trim the beets, leaving on the skin, an inch of the stem, and the tail on the bottom of each, then scrub and drain. Place the beets in a small casserole dish just big enough to hold them. Pour the water and olive oil over the beets then cover tightly with a lid or aluminum foil and bake until tender and easily pierced with a sharp paring knife, about 1 ½ hours.  (Honest disclaimer: I often do this in a disposable pan. The beet juice carmelizes, which is delicious, and incredibly hard to clean off the pan.)

3. Remove the casserole from the oven and uncover the beets carefully, keeping your face and hands away from the steam. Let them cool completely in the dish.

4. Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the salt, and pepper in a medium-size bowl and whisk to blend. Taste and add more olive oil, if desired.

5. Peel the cooled beets with the back of a paring knife and cut into ½-inch slices. Add to the dressing in the bowl and toss gently but thoroughly to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator, for up to 24 hours.

{Please pretend there is a picture of beautiful beets here. There isn't. We ate them. The beets, not the pictures.}