You may recall that I recently wrote about coming to love both beets and figs. Pickled beets are a delight, thinly shaved raw beets are beautiful and add a lovely, light crunch to any salad, and roasted beets are incredibly simple, versatile and satisfying. There are myriad varieties of Beta vulgaris, and as far as I know, I love them all: bull's blood, chioggia, golden, baby, red. This humble root is crunchy yet soft, sweet but not overly so. You can dress it up or down, make it shine or serve in a supporting role.
For short-term pickled beets, my go-to recipe hails from Gramercy Tavern and is a combo of beets, chard stems, sugar, water, rice wine vinegar and some spices. This is a great recipe, and I've adapted it only to go 50-50 with the beets and chard. For long-term storage however, the chard stems should be left out because after a while they turn mushy.
For shaving beets, I highly recommend the use of a mandoline. Raw beets are hard and slicing them into paper-thin rings with just a knife and your steady hand is not the simplest of tasks. A mandoline makes quick work of it!
Roasting beets is really the easiest way to deal with them, and though there are several roasting methods you can employ, my favorite is to wrap each washed, trimmed, unpeeled beet tightly in foil, place as many packets as you made on a baking sheet, and roast at 385° (F) or so for 30 or 40 minutes. Larger beets will take a bit longer, baby beets might be done sooner. I like the foil system because they are steamed while being roasted, and because you've not added any water to them, their sugars caramelize and the flavors intensify in such a yummy way. You want to place your packets on a baking sheet because although you'll swear you sealed them completely, juice will seep out and start burning and smelling in your oven. This is a mess and the stench isn't great. After they're done, you should be able to slip the skins off easily, either with your fingers or with a veggie peeler or paring knife.
And don't discard the greens! They are totally edible, tasty and good for you. Use them as you would most other greens: steamed, stirred into soup, sauteed with some olive oil and garlic, wilted and served with their beetroots...
Beets are marvelous with red onions, orange segments and juice, and balsamic vinaigrette. They adore both feta and goat cheese too.
Try one of these recipes, and if you're not in love already, I feel sure you will be soon!