We got the most lovely bunch of purple beets at our last CSA pick up. I used a few by grating them raw into salads (yum!), then proceeded to ignore them in order to focus on some of the more time-sensitive veggies that needed to be dealt with quickly. Luckily, beets keep for quite a while in the fridge if you remove the greens and this batch seemed perfectly content to cool their heels in the crisper for nearly two weeks while I dealt with more pressing culinary concerns.
I typically roast beets – they’re DELICIOUS that way – but I was not feeling excited about waiting quite that long for them to cook so I decided to try baking them, instead – something I’d never tried before. With baked beets, the cooking time is sped up by putting a small amount of water in the bottom of the baking dish to steam the beets while they cook. Then you slip the skins off just as you would with roasted or boiled beets. It’s a bloody-looking business but it washes right off.
I was also attracted to the simple idea of tossing the warm beets with butter, herbs, salt, pepper and a little lemon juice. So I ran out to our little container garden and gathered up oregano, thyme and basil and chopped them up.
The results were both quicker and less messy than roasting and also deliciously flavorful and light. The baked beets are a little bit softer than roasted and the fresh herbs complement their natural sweetness while the butter (you could sub in olive or walnut oil if you don’t eat dairy) makes it feel just a wee bit decadent and the salt, pepper and lemon juice give it a little extra brightness and jazz.