Beets were always one of my grandmother’s go to comfort foods and now they are one of mine.
I smoke different foods often, and nothing is really off limits including beets or vegetables in general. Yesterday it was baby eggplants, a few weeks ago it was whole cauliflower, today its these fresh red beets. One of the benefits of having a Traeger pellet smoker is it has the convenience of a gas grill as far as ease of start-up and produces a clean wood smoke flavor like your traditional smoker. Given this and weather permitting I treat the situation like an outdoor kitchen which means I cook vegetables outside pretty frequently. Note a Traeger grill is not required for this meal, but I mention it purely as context given the frequency of my veggie smoking.
Beets for me is that soul food ingredient that doesn’t get enough love and attention. It’s always gotten a bad rap in my opinion as grandparents food. And though this was my grandmother’s comfort food, I appreciate the fact that my kids have no reservations about eating beets. This beets recipe made with love, is simple and straight forward, but also has a cool factor and works for any generation’s pallet.
There is no reason to dress this much as the beets speak loud enough on their own. Smoke to me is like bacon, it makes most things mo better. The earthy flavor and natural sweetness of the cooked beets pair well with apple wood smoke. The goat cheese acts as a salty accent to the beets, while the balsamic vinegar ensures there is a mild level of tartness. All these ingredients work to create a dish that is really balanced in flavor despite the different taste profiles.
I ate these beets as a stand alone dish, but you could easily add lettuce or greens to build a more traditional salad. Lastly remember these are red beets, so be careful as they stain everything they come into contact with. I keep plastic bags around to mitigate the staining.
Great beats, better eats. Enjoy!
Lightly Smoked Beets with Goat Cheese
- 4 medium beets scrubbed and sliced in halves
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tbsp Kosher Salt
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp. Kosher Salt
- 4 oz. goat cheese
- 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh herbs parsley, cilantro, tarragon, etc. (optional)
Place beets in a large saucepan. Add salt and cover with water by at least an inch. Bring to a boil and cook until beets are easily pierced with a knife, 25 to 35 min.
Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking. Once cool, peel beets.
Meanwhile, preheat smoker/grill to about 375 degrees. Brush beets with oil and add a pinch of salt.
Once ready add beets to a "vegetable grill basket" and place in the smoker cooking over indirect heat for 15 to 30 min. depending on how smoky you want them. Remove beets from smoker/grill and cut into smaller slices
Make the glaze by mixing balsamic vinegar, sugar, and salt together in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce to simmer, stirring as needed, until thick and syrupy and reduced by about half.
Remove from heat and allow to cool; glaze will thicken as it cools.
Serve beets with balsamic glaze drizzled or brushed on and topped crumbled goat cheese and herbs.