I got this technique for roasting beets from the classic The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters years ago and have used it ever since. If it’s good enough for Alice, it’s good enough for me! Roasting beets enhances their natural flavor; once roasted you can use toss them in salads with a smattering of your favorite cheese (I’m always partial to feta), throw them in the blender to make a refreshing borscht or serve on a vegetable platter.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
¼ cup water
2 cloves of garlic
A few sprigs of thyme
Pinch of salt
Wash and dry beets. Cut off the green part, but leave the stems. I harvest early because the smaller beets tend to be more flavorful.
Place beets in a pie plate with ¼ cup of water, 2 cloves of garlic and a few sprigs of thyme. I simply smash the garlic cloves leaving the skin on, because the point is just to perfume the air with garlic and thyme while the beets roast. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over the beets. Cover tightly with foil and place in oven.
Beets take awhile to roast— anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half depending on their size—so you’ll have to test them for doneness. Try to group your beets by size for roasting, so they they’ll cook evenly. Pierce the beets with a knife. If you can stick the knife to the center cleanly, they’re finished. If there’s any resistance though, they need a little more time.
When ready, remove beets from oven. Allow to cool. To remove skin, simply hold beet in a paper towel and rub; the skin will come off easily. After they’ve been peeled, they’re ready. I like to cut them, toss in sherry vinaigrette and store in the fridge. When they’re still on the warmer side, it’s good to mix them with other flavors because they’ll absorb better.