They were the kind of thing you ate because you had to. They were the kind of thing that you ate as quickly as possible while holding your breath, eyes squeezed tightly shut.
Beets and I are better now. And although I must admit they're very similar, I would currently claim the flavor as more earthy than dirty.
They're much better fresh and roasted than they are canned. There's more character, more possibilities to choose from when amping up the flavor.
Plus with fresh beets, there's the added advantage of things looking suspiciously like a massacre took place at the cutting board. It's a nice addition to the repertoire of stain possibilities, so take care not to let the beets hit any white tablecloths (or shirts).
This particular beet recipe is a little sweet, a little roasty, savory and aromatic.
They're great on their own, but are also nice as an addition to a salad.
Adapted from a recipe by Giada de Laurentiis in Giada's Family Dinners
Balsamic Roasted Beets
serves 6-8 as a side dish
6 large beets
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
3 T minced shallot
1 T honey
1/3 c olive oil
1 1/4 t kosher salt
1/2 t pepper
10 sprigs fresh thyme
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Peel the beets, cut them in quarters lengthwise, then cut each quarter into thirds (it's easiest if you cut off the pointed end as an approximate third and then cut the larger piece that's left in half lengthwise... I hope this makes sense!).
Place the beets in a large bowl.
In a smaller bowl, combine the balsamic vinegar, shallot and honey. Whisk until the honey is dissolved then whisk in the olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Add the salt and pepper and again whisk the vinaigrette.
Pour the vinaigrette over the beets and toss well so that all are coated with the dressing.
Place a large piece of aluminum foil on a large sheet pan, and fold up the edges a bit. Pour the beets and dressing onto the foil and tuck the sprigs of time in amongst the beets. Try to make sure the beets are in a single layer. Place another large piece of foil on top of the beets, and crimp the edges of both pieces of foil together so you're left with a tight seal around the edge of the packet.
Roast the beets about 30 minutes. Remove the foil from the top of the packet, being careful not to burn yourself. Place the pan back in the oven and roast another 30 minutes (or more), shaking the pan and gently tossing the beets occasionally, until the beets are easily pierced with the tip of a knife and the outside is caramelized a bit.
Let cool a bit and remove the thyme stems before serving.
Season to taste as necessary.