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Oven: Baked Beets with a Mediterranean Dressing

July 03, 2024

Oven: Baked Beets with a Mediterranean Dressing

HAPPY 4TH OF JULY
. This hearty beet salad with a simple Mediterranean dressing should be your go-to contribution to any picnic and potluck this holiday and beyond. It's not only easy to make, it also holds up incredibly well even once dressed. It drives me nuts when salads sit and get soggy. This one just gets tastier. I also added a touch of turmeric powder to the dressing to give you some easy anti-inflammatory effects. Remember to alway add turmeric powder to your food and combine it with a fat and black pepper for best results. My first instruction for this recipe is to get over the fear. I always used to be afraid of beets! 
 
I promise - I'm not scared of much, but cooking beets has always been a personal challenge. I love eating them and always order the thinly sliced beet salad on the summer menu at our favorite Lincoln Park eatery Gemini. The added crumpled feta and dash of nuts is purely addictive. I would even buy them precooked from the grocery store - but I've been trying to do that less. I no longer like the idea of food sitting around in plastic wrap and those beets don't taste fresh to me. So, I reigned in my inner fear and started my scratch beet cooking journey. My first step was to reach for my go-to veggie cooking anthology - 'The World's Healthiest Foods' by George Mateljan. I love this book, because he does the work for you by cooking an ingredient in all sorts of ways and then providing the healthiest cooking methods. About beets, he says steaming them sliced gives you the best flavor and nutrition. That is all well and good, but I did not want to deal with red hands for days nor do I like steaming veggies after cutting them - I feel like you lose some of the nutrition. Instead, I baked my beets whole. A couple of things I discovered with this method: 1. Beets need to cook at a higher temperature than some other bloggers' recipes - but less than potatoes. I settled in on 400 degrees Fahrenheit as M. suggested in his directions. Potatoes are always at 420 degrees F. Other recipes say to cook beets at 375 degrees F. 2. I cook them longer than potatoes - 1.5 hours versus 1 hour for potatoes. 3. While M. in his explanation says the peel will come off easily if rubbed with a paper towel, I found I still had to use a paring knife. I also forgot to brush the beets with oil before cooking so that may make the difference. I will update the recipe below as I experiment. 

2 pounds raw beets (6-8 medium-sized)
avocado oil, for brushing the outside

1. Position your oven rack in the second-from-the-top rack in your oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 

2. Scrub the beets completely clean with a scrub brush reserved for veggies or a vegetable scrubber. Dry them well with a clean dish rag. Trim the ends. Be careful not to tear the skin so the color and nutrition does not bleed out. It's a good idea to keep the peel on during cooking as well for the same reason. If your beets are very young and fresh, you may not even need to peel them post cooking. 

3. Place the beets on a wire rack positioned on a baking tray. You can put them right on a tray as well, but this wire rack method helps cook them from all sides. I do the same for potatoes. There is also no reason to wrap them in aluminum foil. Lightly brush them with a high-smoke point oil like avocado oil. You can also use coconut oil or ghee

4. Cook the beets for 1.5 hours. Once finished, pull the tray out and let them cool. Once they are cool enough to handle peel them with a paring knife. Use kitchen gloves if you want to avoid staining your hands. 

Mediterranean Dressing*
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder 
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a glass jar with a lid and then shake furiously until well combined. That's it! Pour this mixture over your beets and enjoy. You can add crumbled feta cheese or toasted nuts like pistachio or pine nuts. In his recipe, M. uses this dressing for 1 pound of beets, I found it was enough for 2 pounds, so I adjusted the recipe. I also add a pinch of turmeric - why not? It's perfect in this recipe paired with olive oil (a fat) and black pepper. 

* This dressing recipe is from Mateljan's book. Though it was my idea to add the turmeric - super easy way to get it in. 
Mateljan, George. 2007. The World's Healthiest Foods. George Mateljan Foundation. Click here to order from Amazon.
I do not benefit in any way from you ordering this book except to know that it will change the way you cook and eat. I don't have any relationship with the author and simply know this book has helped me so much in my personal food journey. I hope it can do the same for you. Read the reviews. You'll be convinced. 



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