In a very exciting moment of personal development, I made beets for the first time a short while ago. I had previously associated beets only with eating out -- either at a gourmet restaurant or casino salad bar. In other people's kitchens, I'd seen them dump slimy beet slices out of a can. The beauties here are from the Alemany Farmers' market.
With help from Judy Rodgers and her beautiful The Zuni Cafe Cookbook, I roasted the beets to nutty perfection. (Yes, that is the sound of a horn tooting.) As with most new things I cook, I was surprised at how simple the process was.
Part 1: Preheat the oven to 375°. Scrub the beets, then cut off the top and bottom ends. Place them in an oven-safe baking dish with a lid and fill it with 1/4-inch of water. Cover the dish and pop it in the oven for about 25 min., until they are just tender. To test, you can stab to the center of the beet with a thin paring knife or whatever other thin, sharp, long, foodsafe object you can find. When you remove them from the oven, let them sit with the lid on for another 5 min. to finish cooking.
Part 2: When cool enough to touch, rub or peel the skins off and trim the ends again. Then slice the beets into wedges. Your fingers will look like Lady Macbeth's, but the beets are so worth it. Toss in a bowl with red wine vinegar, salt, and olive oil.
I tossed my wedges into a salad with the random assortment of produce in my fridge and herbs from my garden. This included: fennel slivers, bean sprouts, cherry tomatoes, kumquat slices, mint, thyme, basil, plus more salt, vinegar, and oil. My cat, Osiris, meowed his approval.