My approach to cooking something "whole" is to divide and conquer. I use the same approach with beets as I do with swiss chard. I separate the roots, the stems, and the leaves. They all have different textures and thus, different cooking times. I wash and dry all three parts very thoroughly (for the leaves, I use the salad spinner). While cleaning the roots, I trim the tops where the stem are coming out and the long skinny tails that come out of roots' bottoms.
Before you stop reading and run away thinking that this will be some fussy preparation requiring 3 pans, let me first assure you that it will only require 1 pan and 5 minutes active time (30 minutes total cooking time). The results are seriously yummy.
Roasted Whole Beets
1 bunch young beets (5-8 small roots with stems and leaves)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 whole unpeeled garlic cloves
2 Tbsp heavy cream
Handful of finely grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
- Clean and prepare beets according to above instructions.
- Preheat the oven to 400F and set a rack in the bottom third.
- Cut the beet roots in half (or small wedges if they are larger than 1.5 inches in diameter). Cut the stems into 1/2 inch long pieces. Cut the leaves into 1 inch pieces.
- Place the roots in a 10 inch skillet (or oven-safe baking dish). If your roots are 1.5 inches in diameter or smaller they are tender enough to roast with the stems, so you can toss the stems right in. Otherwise, give the roots a head start in the oven (as long as 20 minutes before adding the stems for beets that are 2.5+ inches in diameter). Drizzle the roots and stems generously with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, add 2 whole unpeeled garlic cloves and toss to distribute oil and salt evenly, then turn beet roots cut-side down. Place in the bottom third of the oven and roast until tender and browned, about 20 minutes.
- Stir in the leaves and return to the oven until the leaves start to wilt, about 3 minutes. Stir and return to the oven until the leaves are completely wilted, about 5 minutes.
- Add heavy cream, season to taste with salt and stir well. Sprinkle with finely grated parmesan cheese and return to the oven. Cook until cream bubbles, and cheese melts, about 5 minutes.