This is the grown-up, sophisticated version of pickled beets, which I l-u-v-ed as a kid.

The sauce is based on Muhammara, a spicy Turkish sauce, but I didn’t want anything spicy at the moment–I wanted to recreate the pleasure of eating pickled beets!

For best color, use golden beets.  Red sauce on red beets just isn’t as pretty.

Golden Beets with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

3 medium-sized golden beets, washed and greens removed*
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T olive oil
3 T pomegranate molasses (or about 1/2 c pomegranate juice reduced to 3 T)
1 roasted red pepper (I got mine out of a jar; it was fine), minced
salt
freshly-ground black pepper

Quarter the beets and put them in a microwave-safe dish and cover either with a sealable lid or plastic wrap to trap moisture.  You will think to yourself, “I should roast these in the oven.”  It takes forever, and you can’t quarter the beets to speed things up, or you’ll lose a lot of moisture.  Just nuke them.  Nuke them until they are tender all the way through and the skins slip off, or until they’re almost tender all the way through and you don’t care about the skins slipping off elegantly.  This will be about 10 minutes, but I advise doing this in 2-3 minute increments because I’m paranoid about things exploding in the microwave, which these beets shouldn’t do, because you’ve cut them in quarters.

Take the skin off, either by slipping it off or by cutting it off with a paring knife, if the magic beet skin trick doesn’t work.  Let cool and slice into 1/4-inch quarter-rounds.

Okay, that’s enough crazy talk about the beets.

Add the olive oil and garlic to a saute pan and cook over medium heat until the garlic is golden but not brown.  Add the red pepper and molasses and cook through, until the smell crawls up your nose and tells you some sweet nothings.  Add salt to taste.  The flavor should be a balance of tangy, salty, and garlicky.  The red peppers will add something, but it won’t be the main flavor.

Place the sliced beets on small plates and dollop the red pepper sauce on top.  Grind black pepper on top and serve.  Good at room temperature during the summertime.  You could add a crumbled white cheese like goat cheese or feta to make it heavier, or some real sour cream (the kind with the ingredient list:  cultured cream.)

*Beet greens are good.  Treat them like a heavy form of spinach or a light form of kale.  Saute with garlic and pine nuts, add a sauce of your choice.