I used to hate beets, but I couldn’t tell you why. “They taste like sweet dirt,” I would say, as if that were a bad thing. The truth is, the earthy sweetness of a beet is delightful, perfect for summer salads and simple sides. A beet is, however, kind of a pain to prep while raw. Luckily, a box of kosher salt is all you need to make a whole mess of flavourful, easy-to-peel, beautiful beets.
Peeling a raw beet is messy (while oddly beautiful), and attempting this task after you cook them makes it a whole lot easier. Baking the beets in a layer of salt not only permeates them with flavour, it softens the skins, which you can then slough off with a little rubbing. It really is the most streamlined approach to prepping beets.
You can salt roast just a couple of beets, or you can salt roast a whole bunch. The only limiting factor is the size of your roasting pan and the amount of salt you have. You can add other herbs and spices to the salt, but keeping it plain salt makes for a more versatile batch of beets.
Lay down a thick layer (about 2cm) of coarse kosher salt in your roasting pan of choice, then trim and scrub your beets. While the beats are still wet, roll them around in the salt to coat, then nestle them in their bed of sodium chloride. Press more salt onto any bare beet spots, then cook in a 220-degree-Celsius oven for about an hour, or until a paring knife slides into the beets with little to no resistance.
Remove from the oven, let cool completely, then rub the skin off. (You may have to pry some small bits off with your fingernail.) Serve the beets in a salad, to the side of a roasted chicken, or wrap them in a piece of prosciutto for a salty sweet snack (I did this last night and I highly recommend it).
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