Growing up we never ate beets in our household, it was just one of those vegetables that my mom never cooked for dinner. Daikon, natto, gobo root- sure...beets? Nope. So, my first encounter with beets didn't come until I was well into college and unfortunately it wasn't on a plate...it was in a diaper. A rather full and overflowing diaper at that. Let me back up a bit.
When I was in college, I lived with my ex-husband (who was at the time my boyfriend) and along with going to school full-time and waiting tables five nights a week, I would pick up the occasional babysitting shift for my neighbor across the street. She was a nice enough lady, one of those hippie-ish types that ate a lot of granola and organic yogurt and unbeknownst to me liked to feed her baby beets---LOTS of beets. So one of the first times I babysat for her and went to change the kid's diaper, I opened the tabs and found what looked like a cross between massive hemorrhaging and a dump made by Barney. I completely freaked out...and you have to remember that this is before everyone and their mother was carrying a cell phone around 24-7, so I couldn't just call the woman up. I hosed the kid off in the kitchen sink and looked to see if he was bleeding still from any orifices and then called a friend who was in the nursing program at Sac State...at first she was concerned and then there was a pause and she said, "Wait! His sh*t is PURPLE? Do you know if his mom fed him beets?" I looked in the fridge and sure enough, after some digging around there was a Tupperware container of some sort of chunky dark purple vegetable jammed in the corner. Mystery solved...and the start of my beet enlightenment. For the longest time after that though, whenever I came across the words "beets" on a menu or a recipe, I'd cringe and remember that diaperful of glowing burgundy colored #2. It wasn't until about five or six years ago that I allowed myself to be talked into trying the vegetable in a simple roasted beet and goat cheese salad. Since then I've gotten over my aversion and have had beets prepared in numerous ways but this simple salad is still one of my favorite ways to eat beets.
Roasted Beet Salad with Feta
4 medium beets, trimmed & washed
4 oz. feta cheese (I like to use Trader Joe's Feta Cheese with Mediterranean herbs)
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Trim and wash beets. Place beets in aluminum foil. Fold the foil over and crimp the sides closed. Place wrapped beets in a baking pan.
3. Bake for about an hour. Beets should be tender when done.
4. Set aside and allow to cool.
5. Remove from foil. When beets are cool enough. Slip skins off (you may want to wear latex gloves or do this under cold water as the beet juice will stain your hands).
6. Slice or cube the beets, depending on which you prefer. Lightly drizzle with olive oil (just enough to coat). Season with salt and pepper (optional). Toss. Top with crumbled feta.