Beets are a food that conjures up strong emotions for some people. I happen to be a person that enjoys their earthy flavor.
Growing up, we occasionally had beets at home. My mom would buy the canned version and slice them up for us to eat on the side. After all, beets were good for us. And surprisingly, I liked them that way.
But fresh beets are so much better. I came across this recipe in Marilyn Tausend’s cookbook, La Cocina Mexicana: Many Cultures, One Cuisine.
What I like the most about this recipe is that the flavors are as bright as the colors in this version of pickled beets.
Betabeles en Escabeche
4 – 6 red beets, with some stem attached and well-scrubbed
1 small or medium red onion, thinly sliced
¾ cup mild white vinegar
¾ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
¼ cup Spanish dry (fino) sherry
¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
½ teaspoon whole allspice
¾ teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Strips of orange peel, without the white pith
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Put the beets in a small baking dish and add ¼ cup water and cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for an hour or until the beets are soft when squeezed (15-20 minutes more depending on the size of the beets).
When they are done, remove the beets from the oven and place them in an ice-bath and let them cool until they are ready to be handled. Peel the skins off the beets and cut the beets into ¼-inch thick rounds.
Place the slices in a glass bowl.
Add the slices of red onion, preferably using rings that are no larger than the diameter of the beets, along with the vinegar, orange juice, sherry, and lime juice. Rub the Mexican oregano between your palms and add it to the beets along with the rest of the ingredients.
Toss gently and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Stir regularly. When ready to serve, drain the slices you are using and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.