Oven-Braised Beets with Citrus Yogurt

Oven-Braised Beets with Citrus Yogurt

Slowly braising beets in the oven with plenty of olive oil renders them perfectly tender and delightfully caramelized.  Served over orange and saffron-infused yogurt and drizzled with a beet-infused vinaigrette, this is a surprisingly simple recipe with a lot of visual star power.  Pro-tip: make the yogurt the day before to save on time.   
 

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb beets, tops and ends trimmed flat, and skin scrubbed and left intact. 
  • 1 head of garlic, top removed
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1¼ cups Greek yogurt
  • 1 pinch saffron threads soaked in 1 tablespoon boiling water
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs (thyme, parsley, and mint all work well)
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp orange zest, plus 1 tbsp orange juice
  • ⅓ cup slivered almonds
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • Salt, to taste

      Preparation

      1. Heat oven to 400. Nestle the beets tightly into one or two baking pans. Place the garlic cut side up in one corner of the pan (or split it between the two).
      2. Combine the olive oil and the butter and drizzle the mixture over the beets and garlic. Cover the baking pans with aluminum foil and roast for about an hour, turning the beets over half-way through.  The beets should be completely soft.  Remove the foil and allow to cook for an additional 10 minutes. 
      3. Remove the pans from the oven and allow to sit until the beets are cool enough to handle. Once cooled, carefully remove them from the oil.  Peel and discard the skin and transfer them to a large bowl. Toss them with a pinch of salt and a little bit of the oil mixture from from the baking pans. Set aside. Reserve the cooking oil mixture for another use. 
      4. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skin and into a medium-sized bowl. Mash them with the back of a fork.  Add the yogurt, honey, saffron threads (and their water), the lemon juice, orange zest, and a few good pinches of salt to the bowl. Stir well and hold in the refrigerator until needed.  Adjust the salt and honey to taste. 
      5. In a heavy sauté pan over medium heat, heat a few tbsp of olive oil.  Add the almonds and sauté until golden brown, frequently.  Add the red pepper flakes and the orange juice and continue to cook until the liquid has evaporated. Spoon the nuts onto a plate to cool.
      6. While the nuts cool, make the vinaigrette.  Combine the remaining cooking oil from the pan, red wine vinegar, and a pinch of salt in a food processor.  Blend until smooth and fully emulsified.  Transfer to a sealed container or bottle. 
      7. To serve, spread the yogurt mixture over the bottom of a wide plate or shallow bowl. Top with the beets, the follow with the the almonds and the herbs.  Drizzle with the red wine vinaigrette.   
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