Oddly enough, it’s only been in the past few years that I’ve started using fresh beets regularly. It’s not that I didn’t like beets before then – in fact, quite the opposite. It’s simply that in my mind, the humble beet was supposed to come from a can, just like it had in my childhood. I guess it’s a good thing I’m not a creature of habit, or else I’d have ended up never knowing the wonderfulness of roasted beets.
Beets are a surprisingly versatile vegetable. Occasionally I use them raw (usually in a shredded salad with carrots and apples), but I find that roasting is the ideal method for coaxing out the most natural sweetness.
Most of the time, roasted beets don’t need much besides a drizzle of balsamic and a sprinkling of salt and pepper to dress them up, but if you’re feeling a little adventurous, you might want to give this combination of tangy orange and earthy cumin a try instead.
I like to make these a day or two ahead, so that the flavours have a chance to blend. Serve on top of a mound of salad greens lightly dressed with a balsmamic and olive oil dressing, and sprinkle with a handful of walnuts and crumbled goat cheese.
Orange-Cumin Roasted Beets
3 large beets, washed and scrubbed
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice and zest of 1 orange
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Preheat oven to 400F.
If your beets still have the greens attached, cut them off, leaving an inch or so of stem attached (don’t throw the greens away, though! They’re delicious sauteed in a little olive oil with garlic and lemon juice). Cut off any long tail ends on the bottom (these you can simply discard).
Place the beets on a large piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Wrap the foil over the beets and seal tightly.
Place the foil pouch on a baking sheet; roast in preheated oven for 1 hour, or until beets are tender and cooked through. Remove from oven and set aside for 10-15 minutes, or until cool enough to handle.
Peel and trim beets (rubber gloves might be handy for this, unless you want hot pink fingers for the rest of the day). Cut into wedges and toss with orange juice, zest and cumin until evenly coated. Serve warm, or chill overnight to allow the flavours to blend together.