I find it impossible to resist beets. Their colors are magnificent – it’s a miracle that nature can provide something edible that is so vibrantly hued. With the vivid color, of course, comes nutrients. Beets are a nutritional powerhouse, rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and beta-carotene. I purchased these beets at the farmers’ market, without knowing how I would prepare them. I was happy to simply look at them.
Prompted by a batch of fluffy ricotta in my fridge, I decided to layer the yellow beets with the cheese as a riff on lasagna, with the beet slices replacing the lasagna sheets. Yellow beets are milder in flavor than red beets, and their nutty, buttery flavor wouldn’t overpower the cheese. I also feared the red beets would completely saturate the dish with their magenta color, which, while lovely to look at, threatened to irrevocably tint my pristine ricotta. This is a visually motivated dish.
Roasted Yellow Beet and Ricotta Tian
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 10 minutes
Serves 4; Makes one (8-inch) tian or 4 individual ramekins
1 pound yellow beets (about 4 medium)
12 ounces whole milk fresh ricotta, drained of excess liquid
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for sprinkling
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil, plus extra for garnish
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Trim the greens and ends of the beets and peel the skin. Thinly slice the beets, preferably with a mandoline, about 1/8-inch thick.
- Combine the ricotta, Parmesan, basil, garlic, lemon zest, salt, and the black pepper in a bowl and whisk to blend.
- Arrange the beets in one layer, slightly overlapping, in an 8-inch diameter gratin dish (or 4 individual ramekins). Lightly brush the beets with olive oil. Smear a layer of the ricotta over the beets. Repeat the layering process, finishing with a thin layer of ricotta on the top (some of the beets should be showing). There should be about 4 layers. Sprinkle 1 to 2 teaspoons Parmesan cheese over the tian.
- Transfer to the oven and cook until the beets are tender when pierced with a knife, about 50 minutes. If the top begins to brown before the beets are fully cooked, loosely cover with foil. Remove from the oven and let stand at least 15 minutes before serving.
- Serve warm or at room temperature garnished with fresh chopped basil.