I love beets. I didn't eat a fresh beet until well into adulthood. It took me several years to discover that I could actually eat those green leaves on top too. I used to make the grocer cut them off! Now beets are a family favorite. This is how I first prepared beets for Dwayne. He was skeptical but ended up really enjoying them. This recipe is adapted from the Better Homes and Garden's Vegetable Cook Book, first published in 1965. This is one of the many cookbooks that belonged to my great grandmother and came to us when we moved into her home. I've only made two changes - I reduced the salt and added orange zest. I don't know how people avoided high blood pressure back in the day if they cooked with all the salt I see throughout this book. This recipe actually calls for a full teaspoon of salt! I use just 1/4 teaspoon and that is plenty.
If the only beets you know are the little pickled ones at the local salad bar, I hope you will give fresh beets a try. Also, if you've never eaten fresh beets before, do not be alarmed by any colorful changes in your digestive habits. One friend of mine took himself to the emergency room after his first helping of fresh beets!
6 medium beets
3 tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. orange zest
1/2 cup orange juice
Wash beets and cut the greens off about 1 inch from the crown of the beet. (This prevents all of the color leaking out while cooking.) Place in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to slow boil. Cook until tender when pierced. This will take 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the beets. When tender, remove them to a plate to cool.
For the sauce, place the sugar, cornstarch, salt and butter in a medium saucepan. Melt the butter over a medium heat, stirring constantly to make a roux. Do not brown. When smooth, pour in the orange juice and zest. Continue to cook and stir until smooth, thick and glossy. Set aside while you slice the beets.
Cut the tops and bottoms off the cooked beets. Cut into quarters lengthwise, then slice. Add beets to the sauce and heat through. Sprinkle with additional orange zest before serving.
Makes 6 servings.