Experimental baking: Beets

A month or so ago, I signed up for Local FarmBags (LFB) at work. It’s like a farmers market that’s delivered right to your door and it’s AWESOME. I pick up my bag at work every other week and it’s been fun. There have been things that we already know and love, like strawberries and sweet potatoes, and then there have been things like Boston lettuce (amazingly sweet) and beets.

I don’t recall ever actually having beets. I think maybe someone offered me some from a can once and they smelled so awful that I didn’t eat any and ever since, I have refused to eat any.

Well, they came in the bag this week and I decided to give them a try. LFB does offer to remove things from the bag if you won’t eat it and substitute something else instead. But I had been told that having them fresh is a totally different experience than any other way of having them and if I’d never had them fresh, I should at least give them a try.

So I gave them a try and what do you know?! They are not that bad.

Since I’d never had them before, I did a bunch of research into what I should expect. How are they prepared? Are they pealed or eaten with the whole peal on them? Do you have to soak them first? That sort of thing. And there are are a lot of ways to make them. I found a recipe that I could make and if it turned out that I really don’t like beets, at least I would like the rest of the dish.

I made this Roasted Beets ‘n’ Sweets recipe from AllRecipes.com

Now, I completely eyeballed the whole recipe because I’m crazy like that.

I used the 3 big beets that came in the bag. Apparently they’re “candy striped” beets, but they didn’t have the big white sections like I saw in the photos. They just looked red. VERY red. But I peeled them and cut them into bite-sized chunks.

I put them in a bowl, coated them in olive oil, put them on a jelly-roll pan (a cookie sheet with edges that are 1/2″ tall or so) (I covered the pan with aluminum foil because I wasn’t sure if they would stain my pan red) and put them in the preheated oven at 350 degrees F.

Then instead of using garlic powder, I took 2 cloves of garlic and pressed them into the bowl that I’d just used to coat the beets. I added several shakes of salt and several turns of ground black pepper. I added a spoonful of brown sugar (somewhere between 1 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon, but I have no idea how much).

Then I took 2 of the big sweet potatoes that had been in the bag a couple weeks ago. I peeled them and cut them into bite sized chunks.

I took about half of a big sweet Vidalia onion and chopped it into big chunks.

And then I put the sweet potatoes and onions into the bowl with all the seasonings, poured more olive oil over everything, and stirred it up until everything was coated.

By then, nearly 15 minutes had passed with the beets in the oven, so I added the onions and sweet potatoes to the pan and mixed it up some more.  I let it bake for 20 minutes, when I gave it a stir. And then baked it another 20 minutes (40 minutes total), when I checked to see if they were all tender. Since they were, I took them out.

I still wasn’t sure if I was going to like the beets, but everything looked pretty yummy! I paired it with a slice of fresh bread (because why not?!) and gave it a taste. The onion, garlic, and sweet potatoes were fantastic. And the beets were not bad! They have a sharp flavor to them that I can’t really compared to anything. It’s different. But paired with the sweet potatoes and the onions, it toned down their sweetness and they toned down the sharpness of the beets. So it was good!

I think I’ll use less oil next time — I over estimated how much was going to be necessary to coat everything. And if I wanted to be really good about the oil, I could probably spray it with oil instead of coating it in the bowl.

 I’m quite pleased with the results! I’m always pleased when my experimental baking/cooking turns out well. 🙂 And I’ll have to give other beets recipes a try when I get more of these in my FarmBag.