“Beets? Beets? Who in their right mind eats beets,” I hear you say. The answer is my daughter, apparently. She recently saw a roasted beet in a teacher’s lunchbox, asked to try it, and reported that she absolutely loved it. Which means she ate something that I myself had never tried in my life, which is kind of embarrassing. The truth is they’re pretty good. You may have noticed in your assiduous ingredient-reading that many natural products are sweetened with “beet sugar,” so you can guess that beets are actually sweet, in a vegetable-ish kind of way, sort of like sweet potatoes are.
Not the prettiest vegetable around, to be sure, though the color is pretty cool. So first let’s improve the look by scrubbing them clean and cutting off the ugly ends.
You now have a choice to make: peel before cooking, or after? Peeling before is a fair amount of work; peeling after is very easy, but very messy. I always choose after, but I can wait if you want to get out your vegetable peeler and have a go at it.
Place your roughly-chopped pieces on a layer of foil on a baking sheet, and toss them with a little olive oil.
Lay another piece of foil on top, and fold the edges up like a little boat. This will hopefully prevent any beet juices from leaking onto your pan, because those are kind of a pain to clean up. There is a reason beet juice was one of the very first clothing dyes ever used. It is bright and it is strong.
Roast them for about an hour at 350 degrees. They’re done when a fork pokes in easily.
Now, if you still need to peel them, let them sit until they’re cool enough to handle, then pick up a piece and just slide the peel off with your hand. You don’t want to be picking at it with your fingertips, it’s more like you wipe it off with all your fingers at once, pressing downward and dragging at it. You can wear plastic gloves to keep your hands clean, or display your red-stained fingers with pride, as if to say, “Yeah, my family eats beets. What of it?”
One more thing to note. There’s no polite way to say this… but for some people, eating even a moderate amount of beets can make their pee turn bright red. It’s not a big deal. Don’t panic. Though it might be a good idea to warn any caregivers ahead of time. I’m just sayin’.