Beets are one of my favorite foods. Whether purple, yellow, orange, or pink-and-white, these babies are phytonutrient heaven. Some people are partial to the smaller-sized beets, considering these the sweetest but, no matter what size you like, you’ll want to make sure to get ones with firm, dark green leaves on top. Beet greens are absolutely the best! When I buy beets, I cut the green tops off right away so I can slice them into short lengths, rinse them well, and saute them quickly in olive oil. They usually get eaten fast.
Then I toss the beet roots themselves into a saucepan, cover with water, bring to a boil for 10-15 minutes, turn off the heat, and leave them covered and undisturbed all night. By morning, they are cool and their skins slip off easily. A splash of white vinegar, and into the fridge they go. You can also roast beets in foil. Some people say this gives beets a sweeter, more complex flavor. Either way, it’s probably a little less messy. That’s the strategy for this week’s Rainbow Beet Salad, whose name comes not from the beets themselves, but rather from the rainbow created by the greens, oranges and beets all together.
6 medium beets, with greens attached
2 oranges, medium
1 small red onion, diced fine
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. grated orange zest
1/2 tsp. sea salt, more to taste
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut greens from beets, chop the leaves coarsely, rinse thoroughly, and set aside. Rinse each beet well, and wrap in foil. Place beets on oven rack and roast for approx. 1 hour until tender when pierced. Unwrap and set aside to cool. Peel the beets, cut each into 6-8 wedges (depending on their size), and place in medium-sized, white serving bowl.
Add beet greens to a large pot of boiling water and cook 1-2 minutes. Working quickly, pour the contents of the pot through a colander, and then flip the greens into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and keep their bright green color. Empty this bowl of ice water through the colander as well, and spread the greens onto a kitchen towel. Leave for a few minutes to remove excess moisture, and add the greens to the beets.
Zest the orange with a sharp knife or a real zester if you have one. Peel the oranges completely with a sharp paring knife. Cut between the membranes of the orange to remove each segment individually, and catch them all in a small bowl. Add diced onion, salt, and pepper, and mix well. Add oranges and onions to the beets.
Whisk together the olive oil, garlic, and orange zest in a small bowl. Add to beets, and toss well. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour to allow flavors to develop. Serves 6.