Being of Polish heritage I’d spent most of my life thinking that eating beets was an Eastern European thing. Growing up, absolutely no one I brought home at dinner time had any idea what borscht was, nor they had ever eaten beets before. I’d be thrilled to tuck into one of my faves, while my unsuspecting friends had no idea of the deliciousness lurking in the bright red colour… or for my mom’s ability to make you eat! Make. You. Eat. Once they dug in, they loved it…and got mom’s approval!
Fast forward many years and I’m on vacation in Italy. Rome to be exact, and food shopping to make dinner for some new friends. They were hosting and supplying ‘drinks’, while we agreed to make dinner, with my responsibility being the first course.
“What will you make..?” my sister asked me.
To which I replied “I’m not sure, will have to see what’s good in the shops…” That’s when I found out eating beets was also an Italian thing! As if I needed another reason to fall in love with this beautiful country’s philosophy on cooking and eating… for the first time anywhere I’d found cooked whole beets, packaged via the cryovac method, and ready to eat!
These are from Lady York Foods in Toronto. If you can’t find them pre-cooked it’s easy to roast them in your oven (on on the barbecue!) If you think you don’t like beets, read about their health benefits to help change your mind. Especially when roasted, and much like other root vegetables, their natural sugars render them very sweet… very delicious. Just remember to handle them with care: wear gloves and mind the splatters!
For the oranges, trim the rind and slice them into pretty wheels.
After that, it’s just a matter of assembly – arranging things nicely on a serving plate. This easy to put together sweet & salty, refreshing salad makes a great starter on a warm day. It also translates into Italian: insalata di barbabietole e arancio. Buon appetito~
- 2 - 3 whole small to medium sized beets, pre-cooked/*roasted
- 2 medium sized oranges
- 1/8 approx. cup feta cheese
- Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
- Drizzle of fresh OJ (use 1 or 2 of the end pieces)
- A sprinkling of something green (arugula, spinach, parsley, in small pieces)
- Pinch of Kosher salt
- Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
- Wearing gloves, slice the beets into approx. 1/4” wheels, place in bowl and set aside.
- Trim the rind from the oranges, slice into approx. 1/4” wheels and set aside.
- On a serving plate, arrange the beet & orange slices in any pattern to your liking.
- Crumble over the cheese, drizzle over the olive oil & OJ.
- Sprinkle over whatever green you’re using and season with salt & pepper.
- It’s good if this sits at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving.
- Preheat your oven to 400º and wash & dry the beets, trimming both ends but leaving a bit of the root & stalk attached. Drizzle with oil, season with salt & pepper and double wrap individually in foil. They'll take around an hour to cook - test by piercing with a sharp thin knife. Once cooked let them cool, then using gloves or tongs remove from the foil. (These can be prepared a day or two ahead and stored in the fridge.)
- *Do take care handling the beets after cooking, as mother nature's most exuberant colour will stain clothing, wooden cutting boards, possibly your counter tops... (I use gloves and cut beets on a plate - carefully!)