You can’t beat this cooking technique: My favorite way to eat beets (Or, how to roast beets)

How to roast beetsImage credit: Beet it by darwin Bell, on Flickr. CC BY 2.0. (modified)

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve developed a fondness for eating beets and have developed a hobby of finding new recipes with beets as a featured ingredient. A few years ago, the technique of roasting vegetables came my way, and I was grateful for this new way to enjoy vegetables. Since then, it’s been my go-to method to prepare any fresh beets that come my way, but roasting vegetables is a technique that can be used on most types of vegetables.

Why roast vegetables?

Roasting vegetables is a simple technique that helps bring out the deliciousness of vegetables. Roasting vegetables brings out their sweetness, which makes vegetables like Brussels sprouts more palatable to many.

You can roast just about any vegetable. Hearty root vegetables (like onions, garlic, carrots, parsnips, turnips, potatoes and beets) and winter squash (think butternut squash) tend to work best, because they hold up to the high heat roasting requires and contain more natural sugars to support caramelization, but I also like to roast peppers, squash, cauliflower and tomatoes.

How to roast vegetables

To roast vegetables, cut them into similarly sized pieces and toss them in a little olive oil and any seasonings you wish. Then, spread your vegetables out on a baking sheet, leaving a lot of room between the pieces. The temperature you use will vary depending on how hearty your vegetables are and how brown you want them to get, but somewhere between 400 and 450 degrees (vegetables with a higher water content, like tomatoes, should be cooked a the lower range).

Cooking time will vary as well, but generally 30-45 minutes is the average. You’ll want to toss your veggies a few times during the roasting process, to ensure everything cooks evenly. You’ll know your veggies are done when they start to get a pleasing brown color on the outside and, for vegetables like butternut squash, a fork pierces through easily.

It’s that easy!

My favorite way to eat roasted beets

My favorite method for preparing beets is slightly different from the method I just described. I clean the beets and trim the tops and bottoms, then I put them on a piece of aluminum foil. I take a second piece of foil and place on top of the beets. Then I fold the edges of the two pieces of foil together, to create a pouch to cook my beets in.

Next, I place the pouch on a baking sheet and bake it in a 400 degree oven. After 20 minutes, I flip over the pouch and bake for 20 minutes more. Then I check the beets for doneness, by piercing a beet with a fork, if it passes through easily they’re done, if not, I reseal the foil flip them over and check again every 10 minutes until the beets are the desired tenderness.

Once they’re done, I leave my these little gems in the foil pouch to cool. Once they have cooled to room temperature, I peel and slice the beets into a bowl. Next I drizzle with a nice balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. This preparation makes a nice dish own its own or atop a nice salad.

What about you? Do you love roasting vegetables? What’s your favorite way to eat them? Let me know in the comments or take your discussion to Facebook!

Get this all up in your grill: Vegan beet burgers

Vegan Beet BurgersWhen I met my beloved, I had no idea he would open up a whole new world of eating to me. At the time, he had a small specialty produce business, growing heirloom vegetables such as tomatoes and fingerling potatoes and selling the fruits of his labor to local restaurants. One of the most popular sellers in his lineup was a surprise to me: beets! (They were second to heirloom tomatoes, because who doesn’t love a good homegrown tomato amiright?)

During the early days of our dating, I learned two things: I love beets and small-scale farming is hard and takes a lot of time (so don’t scoff if the prices at farmers market are a bit higher than what you’d pay at your local grocery).

As time has marched on, I’ve become increasingly interested in finding tasty, satisfying vegan recipes. Eventually I stumbled upon Isa Chandra Moskowitz and her website The Post Punk Kitchen, a great source for vegan recipes (though it isn’t updated as frequently as I’d like).

When I was first gifted beets, I was puzzled what to do with them. The PPK came through, with a wonderful vegan beet burger recipe. I’ve tinkered with the recipe a bit, and thought I’d share it (also, Christine has been bugging me to share the recipe ever since she tried my version).

The only downside I can find with this recipe is that it’s basically impossible to make it without a food processor (unless you have a lot of time on your hands and endless patience). I find my food processor to be as essential to my kitchen adventures as my refrigerator–so if you don’t have one, drop some hints to your loved ones that you’d like one as a gift!

Have you tried The PPK version of this recipe? Have you tinkered with it?

Beet Burgers

Makes 6 burger patties, or 12 slider-sized patties

1 c.  shredded beets

1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice

1 c. cooked brown lentils

1/2 c. dry bread crumbs

2 cloves garlic

2 T. ketchup

1 t. dried thyme

1/2 t. fennel seed

1 t. dry mustard

1/2 t. salt

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Hamburger buns (optional)

Prepare your food processor to use the metal cutting blade. Add all ingredients to the food processor bowl and blend, until all ingredients are well incorporated (it will resemble bright red Play-Doh). Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, cover and chill in the refrigerator for one hour.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. While the oven is heating, form the burger mixture into patties and place on a nonstick cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, turning patties once halfway.

Alternate cooking methods: I always bake my burger patties to keep the fat content low. If you like a nice burger-y charred crust on your burger, you can cook the patties in a well-oiled skillet (instead of baking them) or if you bake them, you can lightly oil the patties and broil them for a few minutes on each side. I think these burgers would probably hold up to grilling, if they are baked first, but I haven’t tested that method to know for sure. (If you try grilling them, let me know if are successful.)