This time of the year I like to have the oven on as much as possible. It fills in for the coziness of a fireplace. Recently I fired up the oven to make roasted and pickled beets. This simple recipe makes some delicious quick pickles. Though there is not as much roasting flavor as I would like, these are really tasty and have just a bit of bite. Tweak the flavors as you like — some fresh ginger, dried cherries, or dried chilies would be wonderful I’m sure.
Pickled Beets (adapted from the Diner Journal)
2-3 bunches of beets (10 or so medium), trimmed and thoroughly washed*
2 cups vinegar
2 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup salt
3 tablespoons whole peppercorns
2 tablespoons mustard seed
2 tablespoons coriander seed
1/2 tablespoon fennel seed
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees, and wipe a small amount of oil onto a cookie sheet. Place the cleaned and trimmed beets onto the sheet and cover tightly with foil. Checking every so often, roast the beets for roughly 1 to 1 1/2 hours. You will know the beets are done when you can easily pierce them with a fork. Once roasted, cool slightly and remove the skins. They should come off easily under cold running water.
Combine the rest of the ingredients in a sauce pan and heat until sugar and salt completely dissolve.
Cut the beets into 1/4 to 1/2 inch rounds and stack tightly into pint ball jars.* When the jars are relatively full, add the hot pickling liquid and seal the jar. Allow the jars to cool and then store them in the refrigerator. Pickles will be ready the next day and should keep at least a week.
* I used two varieties of beets, red beets and chioggia, a variety with red and white striped flesh. To highlight the contrast I staggered the beets colors in various orders. Because of the color of the beet infused pickling juice, the contrast is only faint now, but I think it gives the jars a polished look.