Beets have never been a favorite veggie of anyone we know. They are a kind of in-your-face tuber-like plant product with strong taste and serious color issues that set it apart. Americans have weird Thanksgiving dish associations with beets where only the color is a dead giveaway of the source of the food ingredient. Russians make borsch soup out of them, delicious by the way, and again the color is unmistakable. No other food item comes close to that color. Sometimes they are found cooked and sliced up in salad bars. Apparently they are really healthy for us, which is the reason bob has acquired a taste for them at the salad bar in recent years by always adding a few into the mix when available. Just in time for the trendy beet recipes that started impinging on our consciousness in 2005. Ani never took the healthy salad addition advice from bob, but maybe the food network opened her mind enough to risk trying a trendy beet dish in a restaurant situation. Or maybe she trusted her sister who had already been converted and produced some plain cooked beets at a family dinner, and they turned out pretty tasty. Then a sophisticated beet dish turned up on the menu at a local relatively new but very positively reviewed restaurant: cooked beets with an orange vinaigrette topped with goat cheese finished in the oven with a little form to keep each portion vertical and elegant.
So Trader Joe's found a ready to use beet product and made an exception to offer it with its brand name instead of the generic Trader Joe label: steamed and peeled baby red beets (is there any other color?). We snatched it up. But a few nights passed before the occasion presented itself to try a knock off of the restaurant dish. Bob is home exercising on the Tony Little gazelle (20 minutes only, bob is a wimp these days) when traffic reporting in his NPR ear-feed alerts him to massive gridlock on all local roads because of a tractor trailer accident on I-76 blocking totally the city-bound traffic, causing gridlock spillover to all the local roads, promising to make ani's commute home a bit lengthy, so a ready dinner would be in order upon her arrival. How thoughtful, bob.
A little salad to fill out the veggie quota and some chicken tenders done up in a way inspired by Rachel Ray's previous night's show for the major protein item (sorry, chickens) and the deed is done. As for the beet dish, no oranges around, so lemon will have to do. A little hit from a yellow plastic container did the trick. And vinaigrette... hmm, isn't that like a mixture of oil and vinegar? How about some fancy balsamic vinegar? (bob is not much of a vinegar fan, so this is the most acceptable route down that road). Keep it simple. Drip the dr bob interpreted vinaigrette over the beets, spread some goat cheese on top and stick it in the oven.
And the result, though not impressive in appearance like in the restaurant, and certainly not a reproduction of the unknown ingredients, is very successful. Hope you think so too. Take your own liberties if you wish. But open up to beets. You're worth it.