Roasted Beet Salad with Eggs and Dill
Do you avoid cooking beets because of the leaking colour and the long cooking time? Granted, it can be a messy job but with your hands protected with thin kitchen gloves it shouldn’t be too bad and if you use fresh beets they cook in no time, really. You can use larger beets or baby ones, red, yellow or candy beets. They are all gorgeous and make a beautiful dish for the eye and the palate.
There are so many ways to serve beets, a truly versatile veggie. Borscht is probably the most famous of the beet dishes but there are many more. You can use any cooking method from roasting, boiling to steaming and can even eat them raw when thinly sliced or grated. You can cook them whole, cut them up or grate them. Once cooked you can add them to salads, serve as a vegetable, make pickled beets (I should really post this, it’s is a good one), and even use them in some desserts. I have had meringue coloured with beets, producing a gorgeous pink meringue that was crumbled on the plate as a garnish to a salad.
I have posted a few beet recipes: Pear and roasted beet salad and Roasted baby beets and vegetables with honey balsamic glaze among them, see images below.
On a recent market foraging outing I picked up these large beets, four of them, destined to be roasted and served as a beet salad with lots of fresh dill and hard boiled eggs chopped on top. Since I don’t like a mess in the kitchen either (although it happens) I line the baking pan with foil and then place two of the beets in another pocket of foil, loosely wrapped and sealed, to which I add about 1/2 cup of water to help with the cooking and prevent them from drying. I do the same with the other two beets so I have two packages, each containing two beets. I find that cooking them this way contains the red juices from spilling all over.When they are done you can throw the packets away with minimal cleanup. Convinced?
I have had a beautiful beet salad at a recent long table dinner in the orchard prepared by chef par excellence Mathew Batey formerly of Mission Hill Estate winery. We are all watching with anticipation to see when he is going to come out of his sabbatical and start cooking again. For that lovely lunch he prepared a beet salad for twenty something guests. I don’t have his recipe but here is mine. My secret ingredient here is a balsamic reduction. This time I had a strawberry and fig balsamic reduction that I picked up somewhere and used that as the main dressing ingredient but you can certainly try something else. Other than that all you need is a light drizzle of olive oil (or not), a squeeze of lemon (or not) salt, pepper and lots and lots of fresh (not dried) dill. Careful, I’ll be watching.
And don’t forget the beet greens, never discard them. They are wonderful steamed or cooked in a little butter or oil and served alongside the beets.
2 large beets
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup balsamic glaze or as needed
A large handful of fresh dill, roughly chopped
4 hard boiled eggs, roughly chopped
Line a baking sheet with foil leaving the edges slightly raised to avoid spilling.
Wash the beets but keep the skin intact, only removing the longer part of the root if any, cutting it not to close to the bulb. This will reduce releasing too much of the red beet juice as they cook.
Create a foil packet with one or two pieces of foil and place the beets in the packets.
Add 1-3-1/2 cup of water to the packet with the beets and seal it up.
Place in a preheated 400℉ oven and cook until they are done. Depending on their freshness it can take from 30-60 minutes. to test them open the packet a little, careful not to get burnt by the steam, and insert a knife into the beet. If it goes through smoothly then they are done.
When they are cooked through remove for the oven and let cool in the packet.
When cool enough to handle open the packet and with gloved hands slice off the flour end and then slip off the peel. It should come off quite easily when the beets are still warm. Let cool completely.
Cut the beets into medium size cubes and place in a bowl.
Add olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and then drizzle with the balsamic reduction. toss gently to combine.
line individual plates or a larger serving platter with butter lettuce leaves.
Spoon some beets into the center.
Top with one chopped egg per person and garnish with additional dill.