Herbed Beets with Fennel

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I made this for a dinner party recently and it was a huge hit. One of my guests, a woman in her 80s, said these were the best beets she’s ever had! I steam the beets, rather than boil them. I also use paper towels to rub off the skin after steaming the beets. Cut off the stem and root end and rub with paper towels–the skins just slide off (make sure beets are super well cooked for this.)

  • 6 medium beets
  • 2 large fennel bulbs
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup dry vermouth (I used white wine)
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain Dijon mustard
  • Juice of 1 medium lemon
  • 1/2 bunch chives, finely chopped
  • 1/2 bunch tarragon, leaves picked, finely chopped
  1. Place the beets in a large pot, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the beets are fork tender, about 30 minutes. Drain, then peel under cold running water. Set the beets aside to cool.
  2. Trim any green tops off the fennel and slice the bulbs in half lengthwise. Remove the core from each half and slice the bulbs lengthwise in 1/4-inch-thick strips.
  3. Return the large pot to the stove, add the olive oil and butter, and heat over medium heat. When the butter foams, add the fennel, season well with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the vermouth, mustard, and lemon juice and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, slice the peeled beets into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Add the beets to the pot and cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes more. Stir in the herbs, taste, and adjust the seasoning as desired.