Are you a beet lover or hater? I used to be a hater. Growing up all I knew were canned beets. At some point I tried fresh beets and they tasted like dirt. Gradually I developed a taste for these vibrantly-colored veggies. To my surprise, they’re actually sweet. Not pickled and dirty as I previously thought. Roasting them brings out their sweetness. They’re even sweeter with a maple balsamic glaze drizzled on top. Pillowy clouds of soft goat cheese and delicate cucumber-flavored borage blossoms add sophistication and decadence to this down-to-earth root vegetable. What is borage? Glad you asked…
Borage is a prolific edible and medicinal plant. It happened to take up residence in the walkway off my back porch, re-seeding itself throughout the season. The bees buzz around it all day long. I can hardly blame them for being drawn to these star-shaped purple flowers. They are a great companion plant for fruit trees, attracting beneficial insects and providing nutrients to the soil. I highly recommend planting some in your garden this year.
Go ahead. I’ll wait while you place your seed order for borage…
Did you know that beets are a natural antidepressant, liver detoxifier AND an aphrodisiac? They contain a seratonin-supporting amino acid called tryptophan (also found in chocolate), which boosts mood. The liver-cleansing properties of beets are best derived by juicing or eating raw, but they are also effective cooked. Because beets contain high amounts of boron, which increases sex hormone production, they have been used medicinally as an aphrodisiac since Roman times.
So, let’s rinse these off. No need to scrub, we’re going to peel the skins after we roast them. Do not dry them. The moisture helps steam them once we’ve wrapped them in foil and put them in the oven preheated to 400 degrees. Roast them for about an hour, but start checking them at 45 minutes, especially if your beets are small. While they’re roasting, you can make the balsamic glaze by reducing 1 cup of balsamic vinegar and a 1/4 cup of maple syrup (see directions).
When the beets are fork tender, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool before handling. While they are still warm, remove the skins by rubbing them gently with your thumb. They should peel right off.
Slice the beets and arrange them on a plate. Drizzle with balsamic glaze. Crumble goat cheese on top and place a few borage flowers as your creative genius sees fit. Voila! This is one of those dishes you can eat with your eyes.