If you don't have fun with this dish, you're not doing it right! Go wild with the many different beets out there. I took all I could find at a local farmer's market and made an extraordinary and colorful salad, which I later pared down for an amuse, using colorful beets supplied by Ton Cornille and Sons, my produce vendor, with whom I have worked for more than a dozen years. I serve this in a small paper cup, like the ones you might find at a fast food restaurant for ketchup or relish, and arrange the beets according to color and shape: This amuse is very much about visual appeal. The beet juice reduction provides a little extra kick. Because this holds well, you can make it ahead of time, or you can increase the amounts and take it along on your next picnic.
- 2 cups red beet juice (see note)
- Kosher salt
- 3 baby red beets
- 3 baby gold beets
- 3 baby white beets
- 3 baby candy-striped beets
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Fresh thyme leaves, for garnishing
Put the beet juice in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and simmer for about 25 minutes or until the juice is reduced to a syrup. Remove from the heat.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lay out a large piece of aluminum foil. Make a 1/2-inch thick bed of kosher salt on a jellyroll pan.
Rinse and dry the beets. Remove all but 1 inch of the stems (leaving the roots and part of the stems prevents the beets from bleeding). Coat the beets with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and place them on the jelly-roll pan. Wrap the beets with the foil to form a package and set it on the bed of salt.
When the beets are cool enough to handle, cut off the roots and stems. If you wish, keep the stems on a few beets for presentation. Slip the skins off the beets with your fingers.
Cut the beets into quarters and put them in a medium-sized bowl. Toss with the remaining olive oil and season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
To serve, place a few assorted beet quarters inside a small cup, positioning the ones with stems near the top. Drizzle with the red beet juice reduction and garnish with thyme leaves. Repeat to make 5 more servings.
Note: 12 ounces of beets make about 3/4 cup juice.