Monday, July 16, 2007

Roasted Summer Vegetables

golden beets

Until recently, I thought that I would never, ever like beets. There was something about their earthiness that was too much like actual dirt, and I don't mean the moist, luxurious, rich, fragrant black-earth type of dirt.

Then, we went to dinner at The Elephant Walk, a fabulous Cambodian and French restaurant in Cambridge.
I decided to give beets another try and ordered an extraordinary warm goat cheese and roasted beet salad. The salty tang of the goat cheese perfectly showcased the delicate, earthy sweetness of the tender beets, and it was the first time that I was able to really, truly enjoy them (happiness of the, "I'd definitely order these again!" variety). I started to think that I might secretly like beets after all! I'm always grateful when someone proves me wrong about these things.

Last week, we brought home bunches of tiny beets from the farm, and I wanted to recreate the flavours of that salad.
I know it seems absurd to roast anything at the height of summer, but it really does bring out the best flavours of these vegetables. And best of all, this is the time when beets, onions and carrots are tiny, tender and at their summer peaks. Try these on one of those rare cool summer nights when you can bear to turn on the oven.

Red beets stain anything and everything; unless you don't mind violet-stained hands and clothing, be sure to wear an apron.

These vegetables are particularly good alongside roast chicken or as part of an antipasto platter. I love them as finger food- no forks needed, and on top of toasted, goat-cheese-smeared baguette slices, if they last that long!

Roasted Summer Vegetables
serves 4 as a side course

6-8 small red beets, peeled* and quartered
6-8 small golden beets, peeled* and quartered
2 small yellow onions, peeled and quartered
2 small red onions, peeled and quartered
6-8 small carrots, peeled and cut in half widthwise
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon orange juice (optional)
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
3 sprigs fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 400’F.

Toss the beets, onions, carrots, olive oil, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and rosemary sprigs in a roasting pan until everything is evenly coated.

Roast for 35-45 minutes, tossing once or twice, until the vegetables are tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven and toss with the orange juice, if you wish.

Taste and correct for salt. Serve hot or at room temperature.

*To peel the beets, use a sharp vegetable peeler. If you have rubber or latex gloves handy, wear those while you peel and slice. If you don't have gloves, you can hold the beet firmly, while you peel it, in the palm of your hand with a folded paper towel between your palm and the beet. Otherwise, just hang onto them barehanded and enjoy the gorgeous red stains on your fingers!

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