Recipe: Honey Ginger Balsamic Glazed Beets

Like many people, I spent my childhood arms-crossed, head-shaking, floor-stomping vehemently hating beets. They were weird, and slimy, and tasted of dirt. They made people's mouths look bloody (also kind of cool.) Yuck. But then, like many people, I grew up and discovered that beets are absolutely delicious. Today they are one of my top five most favorite vegetables. So how did I get from stomping my feet to eating beets twice a week? This recipe for glazed beets played a big part.
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I'm not sure what prompted me to first give this recipe a try. It's been several years since I opened Perla Meyers' wonderful Spur of the Moment Cook book and for some reason decided that her glazed beets sounded really good. (I think it had something to do with the alluring combination of ginger, honey and butter.) But I did and my relationship to beets has forever been transformed.
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I unfortunately cannot locate my beet-spattered copy of Spur of the Moment Cook to compare the exact recipe to the one I'm offering here. I've long since gone on my own with this one, adjusting quantities as my tastes have changed. The honey, for example, is optional these days. I always taste the beets first before adding it and have found that often less, or none at all, is needed.

If anyone has a copy of Spur of the Moment Cook, I would sure appreciate a comment on how this recipe differs from the original. I can't remember if it had fresh basil, for example.

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Honey Ginger Balsamic Glazed Beets
Serves 4-6 as a side dish or 2-4 as a luncheon salad

1 pound medium-sized beets, trimmed and scrubbed (about 6)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons peeled and chopped ginger
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey (optional)
basil leaves for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place beets in an oven-proof pan with sides, such as a cake pan. Splash in about 1/4 cup of water and seal the top with aluminum foil. Place in oven and roast until tender, about 45 minutes. Test by piercing a beet with a sharp knife -- it should glide right in.

Remove beets from oven and allow to cook a few minutes, just enough to handle them comfortably. Peel beets using a sharp paring knife, or have a little fun and just slip the skins off using your hands. (A very sensual kitchen experience!) Cold beets won't peel easily, so be sure to do this while the beets are still warm. Slice beets into chunks. At this point you have the option of refrigerating the beets until you are ready to use them.

Heat the butter over medium heat in a large frying pan and add the ginger. Cook the ginger for a minute or two, just until it becomes fragrant. Add the beets and the balsamic and stir. When the beets are hot and glazed, test for sweetness. Add honey if needed and cook a little longer to glaze. Hint: Adding honey and upping the sweetness of this dish is a good way to introduce beets to the haters.

Remove from heat and serve hot. Alternatively, these beets are also really good served at room temperature as a salad.

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Related: How to Roast and Peel Beets

(Images: Dana Velden)

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