Most recipes for roasted beets call for cooking them still in their skins, then peeling after they’re soft and supple. But I prefer peeling first, then roasting.
This allows the beet flesh to take on a slight char, and it condenses their honeyed juices.
Plus, I find it easier to slip off their skins with a vegetable peeler while they are still quite firm, rather than maneuvering a paring knife over their slick, slippery flesh after they’re cooked (I’ve ruined many a T-shirt that way).
And, since you don’t have to wait for them to cool in order to peel them, you can toss the hot-from-the-oven beets directly into your waiting bowl of vinaigrette, which helps them absorb the maximum amount of dressing.
In this very colorful recipe, the roasted beets are paired with caraway-scented crème fraîche, arugula, and toasted nuts for crunch.
It’s a substantial salad that works as first course to a lighter dinner or as a side dish to grilled meats or pasta.
Beets: You can roast the beets and toss them in the vinaigrette up to 1 week ahead; store, covered, in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before using.
Vinaigrette: You can make this up to 7 days in advance and refrigerate it in an airtight container. Bring it to room temperature and whisk it together before using.
Caraway crème fraîche: You can make the mixture and refrigerate it, covered, up to 8 hours in advance. Drain off any excess moisture before spreading it on the platter.
2½ pounds beets, peeled and cut into ½-inch-thick wedges
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more as needed
½ teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 cup (8 ounces) crème fraîche
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
1 small garlic clove, finely grated or minced
3 cups (3 ounces) baby arugula, washed and dried
⅓ cup hazelnuts or walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
Flaky sea salt, for serving
Heat the oven to 400°F.
Prepare the beets: On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the beets with 2 tablespoons of the oil, the salt, and the pepper.
Roast until tender, 45 to 60 minutes, tossing them halfway through.
Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette: In a large bowl, whisk together the white wine vinegar, mustard, and a large pinch of salt and pepper.
In a slow steady stream, whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons oil until emulsified. Pour half of the vinaigrette into a medium bowl and set it aside.
In the large bowl, toss the warm beets with the remaining vinaigrette and let them cool.
Make the caraway crème fraîche: In a small dry skillet over medium heat, toast the caraway seeds until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
Transfer them to a mortar and pestle and pound until coarsely crushed, or crush them on a cutting board with the flat side of a knife.
In a small bowl, stir together the crushed caraway, crème fraîche, dill, garlic, and a big pinch of salt.
Toss the arugula with the reserved vinaigrette in the medium bowl; if the mixture seems a bit dry, drizzle with a little more olive oil.
To serve, spread the caraway crème fraîche over the bottom of a large serving platter and mound the beets, and then the arugula, on top.
Scatter the hazelnuts over the arugula. Garnish with some dill and flaky sea salt, and finish with a drizzle of oil. Serve immediately.