How to make the Perfect roasted beets every time
Beets are an iconic root vegetables in the gardens of North America and I grow a generous amount of this crop in both the spring and fall season.
My family loves to eat beets, from the sweet, colorful roots to the edible, delicious greens. It wasn’t always like this, though. I remember my early gardening days, where I would proudly place a beet salad plate on the table only to have my children scrunch up their faces at the sight to the shockingly red dish.
They didn’t like it, they said. It tastes like dirt, they complained.
I didn’t understand. I loved the taste of beets and grew up eating a lot of this cold-weather root vegetable that is so abundant in my home-country.
I tried many ways to make my children love beets and failed until I found out about the proper way to roast them.
The trick to successfully cooking beets is to soften them while also concentrating their sweet flavor. The roasted beets can then be turned into a vast array of salads, side dishes or even soups. I now grow a lot of my favorite varieties, from the shocking yellow of Golden Detroit Beets, to the whimsical candy-can stripes of Chiogga beets and passing by the classic Early Wonder Tall Top beets and Cylindra beets.
A little trick there: don't wait too long to harvest your spring beets. Large roots may look and feel more rewarding, but beets that stay too long in the hot weather of early summer tend to become woody and have a lesser sugar content. Most spring sown beets have better flavor if harvested when 2-3 inches in diameter.
My Spring harvest of beets, a medley of Golden Detroit, Chiogga and Early Wonder Tall Top heirloom beets. Notice I don't allow any root too become larger than 4 inches and ideally keep them under 3 inches.
Since properly roasting my crops of beets, I no longer face moans and shrieks when I place them on the table!
So, without waiting, here’s my favorite way to properly roast beets.
Perfect Roasted Beet RecipePreheat the oven to 400°F.
Thouroughly clean your beets and trim the top. Don't waste them! Beets tops are not only edible, but delicious!
Wrap each beet in aluminum foil with a drizzle of olive oil and generous pinches of salt and pepper. Yes, each one individually.
Place the wrapped beets on a baking sheet and roast until they’re fork-tender. Mine usually take 35-60 minutes – the time will depend on the size and freshness of your beets. Spring sown beets usually have peek-flavor at 2-3 inches in diameter and can become woody if left too long in the garden. If you want large beets, I suggest planning for them as a fall crop instead, when the cold weather will help concentrate the sugar and prevent woodiness in the larger roots.
Unwrap the beets and set them aside to cool.
When they’re cool to the touch, rub off the skins. I like to do this step under running water for easy cleanup! If you grow Chiogga Beets or Golden Detroit, you’ll also be happy to know those varieties won’t stain your fingers! Just don’t wait for too long to peel them as the sometimes bitter compounds are located below the skin and can seep in the flesh if you neglect to peel them at this point.
And… that’s it! You now have perfectly roasted, non-bitter and non-soggy beets, with their sugar concentrated to perfection.
You can turn them into anything you need. Toss them with chives and green onions, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper for a quick salad. Quickly sear them in a hot pan with garlic and butter for a hearty side-dish.
You can also keep them, peeled, in the refrigerator and marinate the beets up to 2 days in advance, which makes this recipe really easy to assemble and serve.