The Burning Truth…about beets

Leave it to me to blab about a vegetable that’s out of season. Or is it just coming into season? Beets, apparently, are not in season in northern California, at least according to Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Vegetables cookbook. I bet they’re not in season in Kalamazoo, Michigan at the moment, either. Or, are they? Anyone?

All I know is that I can still get beets at our farmers’ markets, so technically, they’re still in season, at least in Arizona.

(I should know what’s in season. I write for Edible Phoenix for cryin’ out loud, and it clearly says in the Spring 2009 issue, on page 12, that beets are in season. Along with asparagus, fava beans and a dozen or so other vegetables.)

I love beets. Adore them. Especially pickled beets, like the candy sweet ones from Cotton Country Jams. But my hubby won’t eat pickled beets.

Roasted beets, now that’s a different story. He laps up roasted beets like a puppy with a bowl full of chow mix.

Here’s how you roast beets: heat the oven to 375 degrees while you snip off the stalks, leaving about an inch above the beet (save the greens if you like braised beet greens).

Scrub-a-dub-dub the beets to get rid of any grit. Dry them. Put them on a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil, drizzle with a good extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Wrap those babies up tight and place in the oven until they’re tender, but not mushy, about an hour if they’re on the large size.

Roasting beets is super simple, but there’s a deep, dark secret that you need to know about.

They’re only easy to peel when they’re burning hot, straight out of the oven. Oh, you can wait five minutes, maybe, but if they cool too much, the skin doesn’t want to part from the flesh.

I thought chilling them would create a little pocket, you know, between the skin and the flesh, like it does with roasted sweet potatoes.

Nope. Has the opposite effect, the coldness acts like glue.

So, here’s what you need to do.

Get some plastic, disposable medical gloves. Grit your teeth, and dive in.

It won’t take long, and it’s worth it. All the beet flesh stays with the beet and the skins slip right off (with a little help from a paring knife).

Roasted Beets on Foodista

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