The beet. Yes, you heard me, the BEET. (P.S. Why is she writing about beets? Isn't this blog about food and fun? What's so fun about beets?) Like the title says...
The Beet is one of the most under appreciated, feared, and frowned upon amaranths of the vegetable kingdom. For years, they have been tossed aside from restaurant salad plates, not quite making the cut. I, too, was guilty of this crime until I learned how to make my own freshly cooked beets at the ripe old age of 40. Did you know that the Romans used beetroot as a treatment for fevers and constipation? And, Beetroot juice has also been considered an aphrodisiac? Huh?!
Now that I have your undivided attention, let me give you just one way to prepare and enjoy this lovely, colorful, deliciously, nutritious bulb.
First, you go to the market and buy your beets. Some stores sell them with the greens still attached. The greens may be sauteed like spinach with some olive oil and garlic or juiced raw (they have TONS of nutritional value, especially when juiced.) I have an old Juiceman, Jr. and went through a big juicing phase some years back. I wish you could have seen the looks my coworkers gave me when they saw my giant Rubbermaid straw cup filled with blood red beet juice while they sipped their DD coffee. Then there was the day the cup runneth over on my desk and they almost had to call Security due to the "crime scene" that ensued.
Moving right along. If the greens are attached, cut them off right against the beet bulb. Discard them if you REALLY have to or try the saute thing. Scrub the beets well with a vegetable brush and dry them (no need to peel 'em). Poke a few fork holes in them and wrap 2 or 3 beets in aluminum foil. Wrap them so that you can easily unfold the foil when you have to test them. Place on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for approx 45-60 minutes. Smaller beets will cook faster. They should be fork tender when done. When you think they are ready, take them out and unwrap the foil to let them cool a bit. Once you can safely touch the beet, take a piece of papertowel and rub the outside skin layer off. The skin should easily peel off revealing the nice, shiny beet. By now, your fingers will be a lovely magenta color which will be difficult to wash off. (Side note: You could try the Glad Baggie Method, invented by my sister Jennifer. She would encase each hand in a plastic baggie while eating N.Y. System Hot Weiners so her hands wouldn't smell like B.O. for days. I've also seen my husband do this on the rare occasions when he is forced to touch raw chicken.)
Slice them up into desired shapes. I like to make 1/8" to 1/4" slices. Then I cut the slices in half so they are more manageable to eat. My mother, Ginny cuts them in crazy, random chunks. Place the beets in a plastic container that has a secure lid. Next, in a measuring cup pour about 1/2 cup of red wine vinegar and a splash of balsamic vinegar. To this, add about a 1/2 tsp sugar. Mix it up and pour over the beets. If you need more coverage, simply use more vinegar and sugar to suit the amount you are making. Cover tightly and shake it around so all the beets are nicely covered. Put in the fridge and every so often, shake it up to let the marinade do its happy dance all over the beets. I think they taste better the next day, but you can eat them the same day if you give them a few hours to set.
Enjoy as a side dish, on top of salad with some goat or feta cheese and your beet is back, baby!