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Article by Chef Linda Weiss
Photo by Robert Shober

The first time I remember having beets was on a visit to my maternal grandmother�s home in Mobile. Mommy, as we called her, served the beets with orange sauce in an oblong china dish. They were the prettiest dark color and I could see the rind of the orange that had been grated over the beets. Now days the rind would be known as zest, but back then she didn�t have a zester, and everyone used a grater for taking the rind off without getting any of the bitter white part in the food. Today we know it as zesting.

I learned to love the earthy flavor of beets back then but when I got older, I was always afraid to cook them. I guess I thought that I wouldn�t know how to peel them or wouldn�t cook them long enough. But, you know the little red jewels are easy to work with and to cook.

Beets with orange sauce, also known in some areas as Harvard Beets, have been around for many years, still as good today as they were over 55 years ago on my grandmother�s table. But, I also have a new recipe for you that�s really pretty and really good. It�s a beet salad. I used roasted beets on a bed of baby greens, topped with feta cheese and raspberry vinaigrette. Mmmm, very good and very fresh tasting. Even my visiting granddaughter, Rebecca, liked the salad.

Enjoy the recipes this week and if you have any cooking questions, need a recipe or just want to e-mail me, by all means please do, at [email protected].



Roasted Beets on Baby Greens with Feta

2 medium beets or 1 large beet per person
Baby salad greens
1 (8-ounce) container Feta cheese
Orange juice and zest

Preheat the oven to 350. Place unpeeled, trimmed beets on foil in an ovenproof dish. Cover with foil and bake the beets until they are tender, 45 to 60 minutes depending on size.

When the beets are done (tender), remove from the oven to cool. When ready to peel, put on rubber gloves to peel the beets, otherwise your hands will be stained deep red from the beet juice. The peel should slip off but if it doesn't, just use a knife and peel as close to the meat as possible. When the peel is off, cut the beets into slices or cut each beet into 4 wedges. Salt the beets.

Place 1 ½ cups baby greens on each salad plate. Place the beet wedges or slices in the center of the greens. Crumble feta or cut into cubes and distribute among the four salad plates. Drizzle the beets lightly with orange juice, and then drizzle the salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette. If you like, you can use some of the zest of the orange over the salad. Serves 4.

Raspberry Vinaigrette

1/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves, or jam
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 teaspoons rice vinegar
4 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon dry white wine
1 teaspoon Country Dijon Mustard

In a small bowl, mix the preserves, vinegars, white wine and mustard. Slowly drizzle the oil into the dressing while whisking. Store in the refrigerator. Better yet, use a jar to mix the dressing and keep in fridge in that same jar.

Since I don't have my grandmother's recipe for Beets with Orange Sauce (or Harvard Beets), we'll use an orange sauce recipe to put over roasted beets. You can use the same recipe for roasting as we used for the salad. Instead of cutting the beets into quarters after roasting and peeling, cut beets into slices.  This recipe comes from Charleston Receipts, published by the Charleston Junior League in 1950.

Roasted Beets with Orange Sauce

1 cup orange juice
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter
2 level tablespoons cornstarch
Salt to taste
*Add the zest of the orange

Combine sugar, salt and cornstarch, blending well. Add juice and butter. Cook in top of double boiler 5 minutes. Serve over sliced boiled beets. *I changed this to roasted beets, and added some of the zest over the top of the beets with Orange Sauce. The oils in the orange zest give it such a good fresh flavor.

Posted October 16, 2009

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