This will quickly become your favourite method for baking beetroot.
Medium-sized red, yellow or chioggia beetroot (beets)
1 Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F). Trim beetroot leaving most of the tapering ends intact and a few centimetres (an inch or so) of stalks attached to the crown. Wash beetroot under running water paying particular attention to the leaf end but don’t nick the skin. Wrap each beetroot in tin foil and transfer to a shallow dish in case the foil springs a leak. Bake the beetroot for 45-60 minutes, depending on size, or until a skewer inserted into the centre offers just a little resistance. Another test is to see how easily the skin peels away. Undo one of the packages and run a paper towel over the skin; it should peel away easily.
2 When the beets are cooked, unwrap and leave until cool (or use them hot if they are for a hot dish). If not for immediate use, rewrap the beets in the foil, transfer to a dish and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
To cook conventionally
Wash beetroot under running water, scrubbing gently around the roots without nicking the skin. Put beetroot in a roomy saucepan, cover generously with cold water and bring to the boil. Lower heat, partially cover with a lid, and cook for about 30 minutes, until tender. To test if beetroot are ready, lift one out of the water on a slotted spoon and rub your thumb over the skin with paper towels – if the skin wrinkles, it’s ready. Drain and cool. Remove skin and roots then grate coarsely (food gloves will prevent purple fingers!).
Small-medium sized beetroot leaves can be used in salads – they taste earthy, lemony and just a little (pleasantly) astringent. Or use them as a garnish for a beetroot dishes.