This preparation is scrumptious. Steam, boil or oven-roast whole beets until they are crisp-tender. Transfer them to a bowl of cold water and rub firmly to remove their skins. Halve the beets and slice them into 1⁄4-inch slices. The earthiness of the beets and the richness of the cream combined with the horseradish for zest and balance results in great flavor. SERVES 8 TO 10
• About 6 generous cups cooked beets
• Salt and freshly ground pepper
• 3⁄4 cup whipping cream or half-and-half
• 3⁄4 cup sour cream or crème fraiche
• 3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced fine
• 1⁄3 cup freshly grated horseradish or deli-style horseradish preserved in vinegar
• 1 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange half of the cooked beets in a buttered ovenproof dish and season lightly with salt and pepper. In a bowl, combine cream, sour cream or crème fraiche, garlic and horseradish. Pour half of the mixture over the beets and repeat layers with the remaining beets and horseradish cream. Bake for 20 minutes.
2. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top and bake for 10 minutes more until the top is golden brown and the mixture is bubbling. Serve hot.
Susan Belsinger is a long-time herbal enthusiast who wrote Dill, Herb of the Year 2010 for the International Herb Association.
To read more, see the International Herb Association’s book, Horseradish, Herb of the Year 2011, edited by Susan Belsinger. To purchase, visit www.iherb.org or write to Marge Powell at the International Herb Association, P.O. Box 5667, Jacksonville, FL 32247-5667.
Click here the main article, 2011 Herb of the Year: Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana).