Every family has a salad that is trotted out at all gatherings. It may be a favourite, or maybe someone thought it was a favourite and it’s been on the menu ever since, even though no one really likes it that much. It’s a dish that has become such a stalwart of the family table that it feels like a relative is missing if it’s not served.
The family I married into loves a good BBQ and will serve, without fail, a pyrex bowl (the same bowl, always) of sliced tomato and onion in a pool of brown vinegar. At my grandparents’ house you could rely on a simple plate of tinned, sliced beetroot. Grandma would decant the tin of crimson brine and rounds of beets into a jar with a pink lid, and it would sit in the fridge, ready for any meal that required a “salad”.
It wasn’t until I was well into my 20s that I ate beetroot any other way. Cooking it can be intimidating, as it has a habit of bleeding over everything. But roasting beetroot is simple, practically mess-free, and leaves you with a bunch of dense, sweet, earthy goodness to work with. If you’re roasting or baking something else, throw some beetroots in the oven too, and you’ll have something interesting to base meals around for a few days.