Beets are something I usually save to make cake (no, really — they let you make red velvet cake without any food coloring, and that’s not even getting into how surprisingly well they go with chocolate), but this time I’ve just roasted them and put them together with three complementary flavors. The tang and sweetness of the orange and the pickled ginger bring out the best in the beets, and the sesame oil takes it to the next level with its distinctive, almost smoky taste.
This dish also just plain looks good, with the contrasting colors that brighten up a late winter day. A couple of words about that: If your sushi ginger isn’t the pretty pink kind, just rub the slices with a piece of cooked beet before you chop them. (If it is pink, it may have been dyed, just so you realize.) Also, be warned that golden beets don’t stay golden after you roast them, but turn pale and start looking, though not tasting, like miniature potatoes. I’ve never roasted candy cane beets, but I have steamed them, and yes, the stripes tend to fade in that process. So if visuals are important, better stick with old fashioned beets for this one.
As for roasting beets — some people prefer not to peel them first, saying the skins come off more easily after cooking. I’ve honestly never tried cooking them with skins on, so I can’t give an opinion on that. If I have to get purple stains all over my hands, I like to do it at the beginning, wash up, and get it over with. Golden beets are better for avoiding stains, but as I said above, their color when cooked makes it a tradeoff.
Sesame oil is best used sparingly, and toward the end of cooking, or even — as here — after it’s done.
- 4 medium beets
- 1 tsp. dark sesame oil
- 1 tsp. finely chopped sushi ginger (gari)
- 1 small mandarin orange
- Roast the beets (peel, wash but don’t dry, wrap individually in foil, cook at 400℉ for about 45 minutes or till tender).
- Meanwhile, separate the orange into sections and take the skins off the sections. (Cut them in half first to make this easier.
- Cool beets slightly.
- Cut into quarters or other bite-size pieces.
- While still warm, drizzle with the sesame oil and toss to coat.
- Add the ginger and orange sections.
- Serve at room temperature on lettuce leaves.