Beets are my Winter Tomatoes

Beets Posing as Tomatoes

When supermarket tomatoes aren’t at all worth eating and the tomatoes we’ve canned and frozen won’t fit the bill, what’s a person to do?

From Halloween right up til the start of peak tomato season, I use cold, roasted beets in their place.

Like tomatoes, beets have the gift of being red. True, it’s a different red, not tomato red, but the carmine red of roasted beets will still set off most other colors very nicely.

Additionally, tomatoes and beets share a certain quality that manages to be at once meaty and sweet. If you wish, you can choose to accentuate that by adding an extra splash of umami, in the form of soy sauce, to the masquerade.

And while the tang of a fresh tomato can’t be faked, you can approximate it with a splash of good balsamic vinegar. A very good balsamic vinegar gets pretty close, certainly better than grocery store tomatoes.

Cold, Roasted Beets for Salads

1 to 3 pounds beets, any color

1 tablespoon cooking oil

1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or green salt

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

a splash of soy sauce, whatever kind you like, optional

To prepare the beets, I do chop off the necks and tails, but I never, ever peel them. Why do people bother to peel beets? I just cut them into a convenient size, usually about 1” cubes, and that’s it.

Toss with salt and olive oil.

Roast at something like 400 degrees for something like 30 minutes. When the beets are easily pierced with a sharp knife, they’re ready.

I like using parchment paper because it makes clean-up so easy.

I dump them into a pyrex storage container, toss them with olive oil, and then cover them with a lid. When I'm ready for a salad, I dip in. I’d say our family uses about 2 to 3 pounds of beets per week in this way.