Many of us grew up being forced by our well meaning parents to eat certain vegetables. For me, this form of parental torture was evident whenever my Mom served her dark red, slippery beets. (sorry Mom!). In the lowly beet’s defense, it packs one heck of a nutritional punch – potassium, magnesium, fiber, iron, vitamin A, B and C. And the health benefits continue – cleanses the liver, boosts your mental health, gives you energy. The ancient Romans even used them medicinally as an aphrodisiac. (Oh, those Romans are so cute.) One of my favorite food memories is that first time I tasted the magical sweetness of a fresh blistery roasted beet – its intense flavor simply paired with the bite of earthy extra virgin olive oil and the crunch of coarse sea salt. BOOM! Mother Nature, you sly fox, how could I have missed this??
This is one of my favorite ways to serve beets – tossed simply with olive oil and fresh herbs and roasted alongside any other veggies that happen to be nearby. I pumped up the WOW factor a tad by grating some raw beet into the vinaigrette – a technique I learned from one of my favorite local chefs, Ian Knauer from The Farm Cooking School. (Go follow him on Facebook immediately if you do not currently – he hosts a fantastic cooking show fittingly called The Farm.) The raw beet adds interesting texture and bite to the creamy roasted veggies. Feel free to play around with this dish – switch out the gorgonzola with goat cheese; almonds for walnuts; rosemary for the thyme. Go for it and don’t forget – eat your beets!
Turns out Mom was right after all.
Roasted Beets and Carrots with Gorgonzola and Beet Vinaigrette
- 1 bunch beets (about 5-6 small to medium beets)
- 1 bunch carrots (about 6)
- Olive oil
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt, plus additional
- Sprigs of thyme (or other favorite herb
- For the vinaigrette:
- About 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Chopped walnuts, toasted
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cut the tops from the beets leaving about 1 inch of stems. Trim any greens from the carrots, also leaving about 1 inch of stem. Reserve one smaller raw beet for the dressing. Place the remaining beets in a medium saucepan and add cold water to cover both the beets by about an inch. Add about 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil over medium high heat then reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered. Meanwhile, peel the carrots and the small raw beet. Add the carrots to the boiling water and blanche for 3 minutes or so until crisp tender. Remove the carrots and place under cold water. Set aside.
Continue to check the beets for doneness. Test by inserting a fork into the beets – if no resistance, the beets are ready to go. (You may need to add additional water to keep the beets submerged.) When cooked, remove the beets from the water and cool. Peel the beets using your fingers.
Halve the carrots. Trim the tops off the beets and cut into 6 or 8 segments. Toss the carrots with a bit of extra virgin olive oil and thyme. Set on one side of a baking sheet. Do the same to the beets and set on the other side of the baking sheet. Sprinkle both with sea salt. Place in the oven. Roast for 15-20 minutes, until veggies begin to brown.
Make the beet vinaigrette. Grate the raw peeled beet into a small bowl. Add the salt and toss. Add the oil and vinegar. Toss again. Add freshly ground black pepper to taste. Stir and adjust seasonings if needed.
When the veggies are done roasting, remove from oven. Plate the veggies on a platter. Drizzle with the vinaigrette. Crumble the Gorgonzola on top and sprinkle with toasted walnuts and serve!