Having grown up in the Midwest, I was taught at an early age to revere beets.
As a child, I attended Fourth of July picnics, family reunions, graduations, and other assorted events. More often than not, these events included beets. There were beet salads. Pickled beets. Boiled beets. Beet borscht. Beet relish. Beet soup. There were even candied beets with marshmallows for dessert.
Truth be told, I wasn't quite sure what to make of beets. Sure they had a beautiful bloody color, and were easy enough to grow. But I had hardly ever tasted a beet recipe that I liked. As a grown man who had mastered changing diapers, marketing websites, and framing out buildings; the prospect of preparing, cooking, and serving beets had me spooked.
This summer, we decided to give our local CSA a try... and low and behold, along with entirely too many scallions and fennel, up showed a steady influx of beets.
As luck would have it, my beet salvation arrived shortly thereafter.
We were up at Chatauqua poaching some Beethoven through the open doors and having some wine and sandwiches when it happened. Our friends Leslie and Ryan had joined us, and after a strenuous uphill battle on bikes, we spread out on the lawn for the drinks and grub. Leslie opened a tupperware containing a dark, chunky, vaguely salady concoction, and my wife asked for a bite.
"That's good. Those are beets?" she asked, somewhat incredulously.
"Yeah, I just roast them with salt, pepper and herbs, and they can kind of go anywhere," Leslie replied.
My beet salvation had arrived.
When we got home (after a few bottles of wine and a really "interesting" bike ride down the hill), I dove into the vegetable drawer in search of beets. I was not disappointed.
The next morning, here's what I did:
Preheat oven at 350 degrees F.
Wash the beets, cut off the tops and bottoms, peel, and then cube them. Toss the beet cubes with oil, and spices. Place seasoned beets in an appropriately-sized cast iron skillet to avoid crowding.
Place in the oven, and roast until they're done. Keep turning them every 10 minutes or so to avoid burning... and after 30 minutes be sure to eat a larger-sized chunk each time you stir to test doneness.
Once they're tender, caramelized, and tasty; serve hot immediately as a side dish to any savory poultry, beef, or pork dish.
As my beet salvation suggests, you can also refrigerate the roasted beets and add to salads, soups, or casseroles. If you're really feeling randy, mash the roasted beet cubes into a paste and use on sandwich bread in place of mayo or mustard.