Recipe: Balsamic Pickled Beets

Jacob and I discovered our fondness for beets two years ago when we arrived in Romania and realized that it was all we had to eat. The cellar was stocked with dirt-caked beets and jars of fermenting who-knows-what arranged like science experiments in a secret lab. 

It took a while to work through those beets, during which time we discovered several favorite recipes and decided that they should become a permanent part of our cooking roster. 

Balsamic Pickled Beets

Truth be told though, beets are a bit intimidating. They are tough, dirty, and if you are a messy cook (like I am), you run a very real risk of looking like you fell into a vat of food dye by the time you are done. With a bit of finesse and a good long boil or roast in the oven, those tough beets transform into meltingly tender, ever-so-slightly sweet and earthy gems. Best of all, once cooked the rough skin will slip right off the beets.  

Which brings us to this recipe. The sweet earthiness of beets is best complemented by strong flavor profiles such as vinegars, citrus, and blue cheese. I recently discovered the beauty of "quick pickles" - sweet and sour pickled vegetables that can be made in a snap and added to any number of dishes. No fermenting needed! A bit of balsamic and apple cider vinegar, spices, and brown sugar produce a delightful brine for the beets, enhancing the natural sweetness while balancing the flavor palate.  

Oh, and did I mention how pretty they look?