Beets are my wife’s favorite food, which means, by extension, that they’re the vegetable I roast most often. When done right, they become candy-sweet, while maintaining an intense earthiness. I like to do everything I can to accentuate those flavors.
Form a tight foil pouch, and roast the beets inside with a little oil and some herbs. Once roasted, they slip right out of their skins under running water.
The Full Story
There may be more than one way to cook a beet, but there’s only one way that I go back to again and again. Boiling beets is fast and efficient, but it pains me to see all that wonderful beet juice going down the drain when I finally dump the liquid. Roasting them plain works all right, but they can end up dry and shriveled, and it takes literally* forever.
* Not literally.
My method of choice is a hybrid. By placing the beets in a tightly sealed pouch of heavy-duty foil and putting them in a hot oven, you create a sealed, steam-filled environment. This gives you the fast-cooking benefits of moisture (moist air is far more efficient at transferring heat than dry air), along with the flavor and texture benefits that come from trapping all of the aroma in that pouch along with the beets. Just make sure to seal the ends really well, so that no steam escapes.
A moderately hot, 375°F (190°C) oven is the way to go with beets.
Bonus: As soon as they’re cooked, their peels will slip straight off.
To accentuate and play off the beets’ sweetness, I almost always add a touch of sweetener to whatever dressing I’m making for them—honey is my go-to. Nuts and citrus also pair well with beets, as do cheeses (particularly goat cheese).