I loathed them as a kid, but beets have long been one of my all-time favorite vegetables. I love their earthiness and toothsome bite, and I love that—here in south Louisiana—you can get them fresh several months out of the year. They’re fantastic anchors for salads, in which you don’t need much more than fresh greens, a little cheese of some kind, and a splash of good olive oil and balsamic vinegar. But if you’re worn out by the ubiquitous beet salad, deploy them as a colorful and versatile side dish. They’re delicious served simply with a little butter and some salt and pepper.
Finding uses for fresh beets is easy, and so is cooking them. The only issue is that it takes time. Dense and hard, beets need a long roast to soften them up. You also need to let them cool so you can peel them with ease. Roast a big batch when you have the opportunity, and pull them out when you’re ready. They keep nicely in the fridge for up to a week.
• 6-8 medium fresh beets, stems and roots trimmed and scrubbed clean (do not peel)
• Enough water to just fill the bottom of a 10-inch cast-iron skillet
Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the cleaned beets in the skillet, cutting the larger beets in half if necessary to ensure each beet is about the same size. Add the water to the skillet. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Place in the oven and roast for one hour.
Remove from the oven, remove the foil and remove the beets to cool. Once the beets are cool, use your fingers to help the skins slide off easily.
Maggie Heyn Richardson is regular 225 contributor. Reach her at hungryforlouisiana.com.