Prep Cooking: It’ll save your sanity

Fact of life: When the fridge is empty, take-out is on the menu.  We’ve all fallen prey to the “it’s 430p and I haven’t got a thing to cook for dinner” disease.  Or my favorite, the “I’m running late (again) for work and there’s nothing to grab for lunch” syndrome.  (Confession: today was one of those days…)

Hopefully my little confession won’t make this post less authoritative.  But I swear I made up for it by prep cooking my a$$ off last night.  Actually, that’s an exaggeration.  I needed to make some pizza dough for dinner tonight and since my kitchen was “freeze off your digits” cold, I needed to turn on the oven.  And if the oven’s on…  Well, you should probably throw something in it.

So, in an hour and a half (most of which I spent playing Wheel of Fortune on Facebook), I ended up with six honey wheat pizza crusts (that’s three meals worth, folks) and a bunch of roasted beets.

But what do you do with beets??  I mean, who eats beets?  Aren’t they nasty?  And they stain everything they come in contact with, right? 

If you are of the impression that beets only come in a can to be consumed by people that lived through The Depression, you are sorely mistaken.  But it wasn’t until I was exposed to some genuine, home grown roots that I discovered the glory that is the roasted beet.  They are rich and sweet, taste great hot or cold, and uber good for you.

To roast beets…  Get yourself a long piece of foil.  Trim off the greens (which can be used for a variety of things themselves) and tails.  Place them on the foil (on a sheet pan) and drizzle a little olive oil on them.  If you’re feeling extra-ambitious, throw some whole (unpeeled) garlic cloves in there, too.   I mean, who couldn’t use a little roasted garlic in their life?  Now fold up the edges of your foil, pouch-like, and throw it in the oven.  (I’m sorry, I know a picture would be really helpful here.  Wait!  Here’s one courtesy of Crazy Aunt Purl.)  About 400°F for an hour to hour and 15.  Or until you can insert a fork easily.

Sounds easy enough, right?  But what about peeling them?  Don’t you need HAZMAT gear to keep everything in your kitchen from staining red?  I’ve tried a few different methods and my favorite by far is a paper towel.  (If your house is paper-free, I’m sure you have a rag that wouldn’t mind being sacrificed for the cause.)  Take the paper towel and fold it in half.  Pick up the roasted beet, root end towards the middle of the paper towel.  And rub from the top (where the greens were attached) down.  It should peel off pretty easily.  Then throw the paper towel with the skin in the trash.  (Or compost.  Whatever your style is.)

And voila!  Roasted beets to dress with butter, cut up and serve on a spinach salad (mmm…goat cheese), or puree with some white beans for a beautiful hummus.

My only advice: if you’re going to be serving them to a toddler, get out the HAZMAT gear.
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