Okay, so yes, beets are dirty. They grow in the ground. They come caked in dirt sometimes. It's a pun! But they are probably my favorite salad accessory other than avocados (mmm...). And they are easy to make. You can roast them, but I think boiling is quicker and you don't have to preheat anything, which is especially nice when you want a nice spinach, beet, and goat cheese salad when it's hot outside.
What you need:
Trim off the stem end and if the skinny root tip is very long, chop that off too. You can save the greens. I always do, thinking I'll use them for something, but it hasn't happened yet. I just keep throwing them out when I buy my next batch of beets. But one day...
Now place them in a sauce pan and fill with cold water. Try to cover the beets, but if the pan isn't big enough, it's not the end of the world.
Cover the pan and boil them for anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. The cooking time differs depending on your stove and the size of the beets. What you are trying to achieve is a beet that surrenders promptly when you stab it with a fork. It's hard to overcook them, unless, like I did a few weeks ago, you put them to boil then go watch and episode of Grey's Anatomy on your computer and forget about them until your housemate declares on the phone to her boyfriend "Something smells like it's burning but I can't figure out what it is!" at which point you leap up and run to the stove shouting an impressive variety of swear words. The water had all boiled off and the beets were beginning to burn on the bottom, but I reached them before too much damage was caused. And the saucepan was fine, which is what i was really worried about. I really like that thing!
Anyway, when your beets are tender, place them on a cutting board and let them cool. I like to use a plastic cutting board for this because the juice can stain, and plastic is easier to clean than bamboo.
When they are cool, start peeling the beets. This requires very little effort. Just hold it in your hand and squeeze it slightly with your fingers. The peel will come right off. Forgive the quality of this image. For some reason, my camera was refusing to focus. I need a photography camera, not just a snapshot one, for these pictures. They would be so much prettier. But such is the tradeoff of being a student.
Now quarter and slice them, or dice them, or if you are a certain type of person, take a big bite out one and lick your chops, pretending the beet juice is blood. Or not.
By the way, I think beets are probably the prettiest color I've ever seen in a vegetable. I also like the color of the inside of a butternut squash, but that's a different post.