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Roasted Beets with Fennel Oil

Updated February 23, 2016
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This image courtesy of JosephDeLeo.cookstr.com

Fennel seed’s licoricelike flavor complements the candy-sweet young beets you can find at the farmers’ market in late spring and early summer. To capture the flavor, I crush the seeds in a mortar, then heat them gently in olive oil just until they impart their fragrance. The strained oil makes the beets glisten, and the subtle fennel flavor is captivating. For a particularly beautiful salad, try to buy small red and golden beets. Their tops will probably still be attached; if they are perky, you know the beets were just pulled. Save the greens, steam them, and dress them with olive oil and lemon.

If using both red and golden beets, bake them separately or the red beets will stain the golden ones. Dress them in separate bowls, using half the oil and vinegar for each. Serve them alongside each other, in separate mounds.

Serves4

Cooking Methodbaking

CostInexpensive

Easy

Total Timeunder 1 hour

OccasionCasual Dinner Party

Recipe Coursevegetable

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, healthy, high fiber, lactose-free, low cholesterol, low saturated fat, vegan, vegetarian

Equipmentmortar and pestle, spice grinder

Five Ingredients or LessYes

Taste and Texturesavory, sweet, tangy

Type of Dishvegetable

Ingredients

  • ¾ teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed in a mortar or spice grinder
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1½ pounds small beets, preferably a mix of red and golden (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh chives, optional

Instructions

Heat fennel seeds and olive oil in a small skillet over low heat until oil is fragrant with fennel, about 5 minutes. Cool, then strain through a sieve.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. If greens are attached, remove all but ½ inch of the stems (so as not to pierce the beets) and reserve for another use. Put beets in a baking dish and add ¼ cup water. Cover tightly with a lid or aluminum foil and bake until a knife slips in easily, 40 to 45 minutes.

Cool slightly, then peel. Cut into quarters or, if very small, in half. Toss with strained oil and sherry vinegar. Season with salt. Transfer to a serving bowl or platter and top, if desired, with chives.

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