Roasted Beets Perfect for Salads

Beets are a high-fiber food that have been found to increase the production of special immune cells that destroy cancer cells in the colon. They also contain antioxidants and help the liver to produce additional natural antioxidants. Eating beets on a regular basis can lower LDL cholesterol by as much as 30 percent. Furthermore, beets contain a compound known as betaine that can reduce inflammation in joints, bones, the throat and blood vessels by 20 percent which helps people who suffer from ailments such as osteoporosis and asthma, and beets are high in folate, a type of B vitamin that helps with natural tissue growth, which is especially beneficial to children and pregnant women.

Roasting beets intensifies their flavor, brings out their earthy sweetness, and makes them as easy to peel as a banana while maintaining their high nutrient content. Roasted beets are delicious eaten plain with olive oil, salt and pepper, and are particularly tasty in a variety of Spring salads.

3 medium beets (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Select beets that are firm and heavy for their size. Rinse the beets thoroughly some beets may need to be scrubbed clean.

Place the beets in a small roasting or baking dish in one layer. Drizzle with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Roast until tender and easily pierced with a knife, about 45-60 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel using a paring knife or by pushing the skin with your fingers. Slice the beets and serve over fresh arugula that has been tossed with olive oil and red wine vinegar and then sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese for a refreshing Spring salad.  We also like to serve the roasted beets with grated ricotta salata (dried and aged ricotta). Toasted or candied walnuts are also a wonderful accompaniment.