Thursday, October 15, 2009

Baby, it's Cold Outside! Citrusy Roasted Beets

According to the weather reporters around here, we're having one of the coldest Octobers on record.

The lovely people at the The Old Farmer's Almanac who are, incidentally, known for their amazingly accurate weather prediction skills, are telling us to expect a colder-than-average winter this year.

And I'm the only person I know who is genuinely gleeful about this- I adore harsh winters, snow shoveling and all!

I'm sure this is due, in part, to all the body-and-soul-warming cooking that can happen only when the kitchen isn't 102'F and/or dripping with the nasty, oppressive humidity that Boston likes to dump on everyone each spring and summer.

Naturally, something I really love coming back to each fall is roasting. We roast everything around here- meat and vegetables, obviously, and often fruit, too. It's such a beautifully easy technique, and best of all, roasting (in this case) gives you foolproof caramelization, which catapults humble vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, parsnips, celery root and beets from dry and fibrous to sweet and succulent.

I can't think of a better way to discover that you like beets!

When in season, blood orange juice lends a lovely tart zip. These are particularly good added to winter salads.

Citrusy Roasted Beets
serves 4 as a side dish

1 pound beets, trimmed, peeled and quartered*
3 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon orange zest
pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 425'F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat baking mat OR use a cast iron skillet large enough to hold the beets in a single layer.

Stir together orange juice and orange zest. Set aside.

Toss beets in olive oil and tip onto baking sheet/into skillet. Sprinkle with salt.

Roast, tossing occasionally, until the beets are soft when pierced with a fork, usually around 30-45 minutes depending on the size of your beets.

When done but still piping hot, toss roasted beets with orange juice + zest mixture.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

* There is some debate as to whether beets should be peeled before or after roasting. I like to peel and cut them up first because this way, you get great caramelization on the cut sides of the beets.

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