A Beet Stunner That Will Win Over the Haters

BY Lynda Balslev TIMEJanuary 31, 2022 PRINT

Beets: People either love them or hate them, and this can create a divide at the dinner table. Now, I can’t promise that any of your beet-averse family members or friends will do a complete 180-degree turn on their opinion when it comes to these earthy roots.

I can suggest, however, that this gratin might be your best chance to convert them.

Baby beets are mild and sweet, and their flavor is less assertive than their grown-up relatives. In this recipe, they are thinly sliced and blanketed in creamy layers of garlic, orange-infused sour cream, and nutty, piquant Gruyere cheese. If you must cloak a vegetable, this is the way to do it.

Happily, all the flavors meld together, and while the beets are undeniably present, they are not overwhelming in flavor. As the beets roast, they release their juices, resulting in a dish streaked with vibrant flourishes of color. At the very least, everyone can agree that it makes for a stunning vegetarian showstopper. So, go ahead and give it a try. Let the skeptics eat with their eyes, and just perhaps, they’ll be convinced to pick up a fork.

I prepared this recipe with a variety of red, golden, and Chioggia beets. As long as you scrub them well, you don’t need to peel them. (Their skin is a great source of nutrients.) Assemble the gratin in a casserole dish, or divide it between smaller vessels, such as individual ramekins or small cast iron skillets, for fun family-style dining.

Baby Beet Gratin With Orange and Thyme
If you must cloak a vegetable, this is the way to do it: with creamy layers of garlic, orange-infused sour cream, and Gruyere cheese. (Lynda Balslev for Tastefood)

Baby Beet Gratin With Orange and Thyme

Active Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes

Makes one (8-by-8-inch) gratin, serves 4 to 6

  • Unsalted butter
  • 2 cups (16 ounces) whole milk sour cream
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds baby beets, about 12, trimmed and scrubbed clean
  • 4 ounces finely grated Gruyere cheese
  • Chopped fresh thyme leaves

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter an 8-by-8-inch gratin dish.

Whisk the sour cream, garlic, orange zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a bowl.

Thinly slice the beets, preferably with a mandoline.

Arrange one-third of the beets slightly overlapping in the baking dish. Spoon one-third of the sour cream mixture over the beets, carefully spreading to cover. Sprinkle one-third of the cheese over the top. Lightly season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of thyme. Repeat with two more layers.

Transfer the gratin to the oven and bake until the beets are tender and the gratin is bubbly and golden, 50 to 60 minutes. Serve warm.

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Lynda Balslev is a cookbook author, food and travel writer, and recipe developer based in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives with her Danish husband, two children, a cat, and a dog. Lynda studied cooking at Le Cordon Bleu Ecole de Cuisine in Paris and worked as a personal chef, culinary instructor, and food writer in Switzerland and Denmark. Copyright 2021 Lynda Balslev. Distributed by Andrews McMeel Syndication.
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