Dear Alice Waters: All is forgiven. Welcome home.
Even though my Apple Jellies catastrophe proved to be my own fault, I was still somewhat miffed about the whole thing. It’s a bit hard to jump back into a cookbook that has resulted in a kitchen fail, whatever the reason.
But, summer has arrived in the Pacific Northwest – tentatively, to be sure, but still, it’s warm enough that I can no longer hide under big sweaters and the one pair of jeans that I’ve been wearing that fit and are also on the verge of disintegrating under burden of daily wear. In short, it’s time to diet, and that means veggies and salad.
I figured I should start with my favorites, so I chose beets, which I love, for being bright red, tasty, and filling, all rolled into one. I have a very simple recipe I usually use, but since I’d come across some blood oranges (finally!), I thought it would be nice to use those, too. So I poked around a bit and ran across several references to Alice Waters’ recipe for Marinated Beets, from The Art of Simple Food – the same cookbook as the Apple Jellies recipe. The cookbook I have not opened since I bought it.
The recipe is brilliantly simple – roast the beets, marinate them in orange juice or vinegar, and toss with salt and a little bit of olive oil. That’s it: you’re done and they’re delicious.
I didn’t add any herbs to mine, an option Waters suggests, but I think a bit of fresh rosemary would be spectacular. I made a large batch of beets, using the juice of blood oranges, and made a couple of lunch salads with the beets: the first with walnuts and oranges; and then when the oranges were gone, tossing the beets with some crumbled goat cheese and walnuts. I made another batch of beets using fig vinegar instead of oranges – it was lovely too (somewhat sweeter). Walnut oil would be an excellent substitute for olive oil. Waters suggests a couple of other simple variations in the cookbook, or you could make up your own.
Or just keep it simple.
- 1 pound beets (any kind)
- 1 tsp orange juice
- grated zest of ¼ orange
- 1 to 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
- Trim the greens to ½ inch from 1 pound beets.
- Wash thoroughly. Put them in a baking dish with a little water (enough to cover the bottom of the dish to a depth of ⅛ inch) and sprinkle with salt.
- Cover tightly and bake the beets in a 350°F oven until they can be easily pierced with a sharp knife, 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on their size. Uncover and cool. Cut off the tops and roots and slip off the skins. Cut the peeled beets into small wedges or ¼-inch dice and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon orange juice, zest, and salt.
- Let stand for a few minutes to allow the beets to absorb the flavor. Taste and add more salt or juice as needed. Toss with 1 to 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil.