Oven roasted beet.
I grew up a very picky eater. When I was quite young, I loved tomatoes but hated the skin. My Grandpa Sam would actually peel the tomatoes for me. Tomatoes with skins have been my favorite food for at least fifteen years. Mushrooms were icky and not to be eaten. I was probably about twelve when my dad somehow convinced me that the dark specks on my pizza were actually chopped mushrooms, not spices. That tag cloud to the right clearly shows I now cook with a lot of mushrooms. I thought that mustard was the most disgusting thing on the face of the planet and would refuse to eat anything it had touched. You couldn't even take off the bread and get me to eat the untouched patty of a mustard-ed burger. Well...that one's still true, but you can blame a combination of my brother's disgusting eating habits and sibling harassment for my lasting distaste of mustard. At the very least, I no longer throw a fit if a bottle of it is sitting on the table while I eat.
Clearly, tastes change, and as you get older you hopefully become more adventurous with food. College was really a turning point for me and my food issues. I didn't want to embarrass myself by turning down invites to the many ethnic restaurants nearby, so I'd keep mum about my pickiness and order the most benign item on the menu. Most of the time it turned out great, which prompted me to try other dishes. I now eat all sorts of things I never thought I would and the list keeps growing. And now no one can fault me for ordering everything without bell peppers because I've actually tried them.
I do have a point, and it's that a month ago, I probably would have sneered at the idea of eating beets. But after my introduction to home-cooked beets with the Beet & Goat Cheese Pizza, I have become a convert. This salad, inspired by different recipes around the net, is full of flavor. The beets provide an initial sweet note, followed by hints of mint and lemon, ending with the spice of the radish lingering on your tongue. If you really want to kick it up a notch, try adding some goat cheese crumbles. I clearly think goat cheese and beets belong together.
Beet & Radish Salad
(makes 1 lunch entree, or 2 sides)
1 large beet
5 radishes, sliced thinly
3 Tbsp. fresh mint, chopped
2 Tbsp. beet greens, chopped
1 large shallot, finely chopped
2 tsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 450F. Cut the stem and greens off of your beet and wrap in tinfoil. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes to an hour. Beet is done when you can poke a knife into it and it is tender. (Note: I used my toaster oven's convection oven on 350 and it took approximately 30 minutes).
2. Unwrap beet and let it cool for 10 minutes. Cut off end and peel the beet. Cut into chunks and let cool fully. Tip: Rip off a piece of tinfoil, ball it up, and rub it against the beet to help remove the skin.
3. When your beet chunks are cool, place in bowl along with sliced radishes. Toss with lemon juice and olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste.
4. Gently mix in chopped mint, beet greens, shallot and zest. Make any salt and pepper adjustments.