Beets are often shunned, yet they are a favorite in our home. Baked fresh beets have a rich, sweet flavor that our kids love. Not only are they delicious, they also double as dinner lipstick, as our girls discovered, to see who got the more ruby lips and tongue. Bear in mind that beet juice is a formidable dye. Our little one is famous for wearing parts of her dinner!
I often hear people saying they don’t like beets. Perhaps it is because they have only had the canned variety, or are a bit concerned as to how to prepare them. They are actually very easy to make. Giuliano likes to serve them as a delicious salad, together with their green tops, which are similar to Swiss chard. We hope your family and friends will delight in this salad as much as we do.
Fresh Beet Salad
(From How to Cook Italian by Giuliano Hazan)
Preparation time: 10 minutes – Total time from start to finish: 2 hours and 15 minutes
6 medium beets with tops
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1. Preheat the oven to 400°.
2. Wash the beets under cold water and cut the tops away from the root bulbs. Put the wet bulbs on a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil and seal them in a pouch, allowing enough space inside for the steam to circulate. Place the pouches on a baking sheet bake until the beets are tender when pierced with a toothpick, about 1 1/2 hours.
3. While the bulbs are baking, fill a pot that will comfortably hold the beet tops with water, place over high heat, and bring to a boil.
4. When the water in the pot is boiling, add a tablespoon of salt and put the beet tops in. Cook until tender, about 10-15 minutes. Drain in a colander and squeeze out as much water as possible by pressing on the leaves with a spoon.
5. When the root bulbs are cool enough to handle, trim the tops and bottoms then peel them. The skin should come off easily using your fingers. Cut the beets in half lengthwise then slice into half moons and put on a serving platter.
6. Cut the beet tops into bite size pieces, and add them to the platter. Sprinkle generously with salt, add the oil and vinegar, and toss gently. The beets are best when served lukewarm or at room temperature.
Note: The root bulbs can be baked 1-2 days ahead and kept in the refrigerator. Take them out of the refrigerator at least 1 hour before serving to let come to room temperature. The tops are best when served within a few hours of being cooked.