Grilled beets

It’s true. You can grill beets. Let me take that a step further: you should grill beets.

I learned this from my dashing husband’s college roommate. He’s a gregarious fellow who likes to eat. He likes to come to our house because I cook. I cook real food and plenty of it. He’s great to cook for simply because he’s so appreciative. A dinner of roast chicken, garlic buttermilk mashed potatoes, and a salad once elicited a wonder-filled “do you eat like this every night?!?!” from him.

During one visit to California from the chilly East a few years ago he was so excited about being here and about me cooking that he wanted to get involved in the kitchen. I had a meal planned. I am used to being the boss of our kitchen. I say “our kitchen” because I am a generous person. The kitchen at this house is mine. My kitchen.

My kitchen isn’t big. Two – even three – people can work in it (and four have done so), but those people need to be fairly aware of those around them. There has to be some communication at work. I say this with love, but this particular house guest, while a great talker and fun conversationalist, isn’t the best communicator I’ve ever met. He isn’t, in short, the very best of listeners. That made me wary about letting him help with the meal; it also made him fail to heed my initial reluctance.

Had our lend-a-hand visitor been my friend originally instead of one I inherited from my dashing husband, I might have said, “hey, let me do my thing” or forced a specific task upon him. He was *so* enthusiastic and his desire to soak up my cookin’ mojo was *so* palpable that I dug deep and found a morsel of generosity and empathy and let him peel and slice some beets and put them on the grill.

It was not what I had planned for the beets. But again, he was just *so* very extremely beyond belief excited, I felt like too much of a killjoy to stop him. Whatever, I thought, let him burn, undercook, and generally ruin the beets. Who cares.

Yes, that was my idea of generosity.

He didn’t burn them. He didn’t under cook them. He didn’t ruin them in any way. The grilled beet slices were tender on the inside, caramelized on the outside, with a nice bit of bitter char that off-set their sweetness beautifully.

Grilled beet salad

Peel beets and slice them about 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick. Brush them with oil and place them on a medium to medium hot grill. Cover the grill (especially if it’s a gas one), flip the slices after the beets get grill marks, 8 to 10 minutes. Continue cooking on the other side until the beets are tender and grill-marked on the other side. Put abut a beet’s worth of slices on a salad plate (or put all the slices on a family-style platter), dollop some soft, creamy cheese here and there (I used ricotta here, because that’s what was in the fridge, but a creamy chèvre would have been delightful). Some toasted walnuts or thinly sliced shallots wouldn’t have been out of place, if you wanted to add them. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, toasted walnut oil, or pine nut oil. Sprinkle with salt.