Wednesday, October 6, 2010

French baby beets

The produce at the farmer's market is changing.  If you're a seasonal cook, you've said goodbye to the tomatoes, the courgettes, the stone fruit, the sweet corn.  What you'll find instead are the cool weather vegetables: varieties of greens, squash, brussel sprouts, and beets.

I discovered beets a few years ago; my friend Laura, a personal chef, shared her recipe for baked beets and I couldn't believe the flavor!  Since then, I've experimented with my own recipes and discovered what I really like are baby beets.  About the size of a radish, these petite beets yield a sweeter flavor than mature beets, and they cook much faster, which makes them ideal for weeknight meals.

Roasting baby beets in a bit of olive oil brings out their natural sweetness; add a strong herb like rosemary, and finish them off with butter is the simplest way to enjoy this root vegetable.  Recipes for French baby beets usually call for the addition of balsamic vinegar, which reduces to a velvety sauce while the beets are baking.  Beets can stand up to strong cheeses so you can toss them with a handful of nutty mâche and add chèvre or bleu for an entree salad.  And this recipe from Epicurious pairs roasted baby beets with haricots verts and lemon; I haven't tried it, but doesn't it sound delicious?

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