A splash of balsamic vinegar gives an interesting twist to roasted beetroot, which on its own can become almost too sweet to qualify as savoury food.
BOIL THE BEETROOTS without trimming them or cutting them in any way. This will help to preserve their extraordinary colour. How long a beetroot takes to cook will depend, among other things, on its size and how long it’s been stored since taken out of the ground; it can be from 20 minutes to an hour-and-a-half or more. After 20 minutes, gingerly pierce one with a fork or a sharp knife to test for tenderness. A beetroot will never cook to soft, but it will change from unyielding rawness to a cooked tenderness. Drain the beetroots and put them, pot and all, in the sink. Cover the roots with cold water and, with the cold water running over them, use your fingers to rub off the skin. If the skin doesn’t come off easily, the roots are probably aged, gnarled old things and the only remedy is to take a peeling knife to them. The roots are now ready to be eaten or subjected to a second stage of cooking.
For balsamic-roasted beetroot, slice the small roots in half (bigger ones should be sliced into four or six orange-segment type pieces), put them on an oven tray, brush them with just enough olive oil to coat them and roast them in a moderate-hot oven (325-400°F, Gas Mark 3-6) until the roots are crisping and caramelizing at the edges. Turn them once or twice to get an even finish. Towards the end of the cooking, as the roots caramelize, pour in the balsamic vinegar and toss the roots in it. Cook for five minutes more.
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